Eight Myths About Multilingual Kids
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People are well-meaning, but they often operate from their beliefs rather than the facts. When you talk about raising a multilingual child, you will no doubt hear some of these myths and misconceptions.
“Multilingualism is nice but uncommon.”
Estimates suggest that 75 percent of the world’s population speaks more than one language. That means that despite the fact that most western cultures are monolingual, the majority of the world is multilingual. Many children learn one or more regional or tribal language at the same time they learn the official language of the country where they live.
“Learn one language properly first and teach other languages later.”
This is not only wrong, but totally counterproductive. After having already learned one language, it takes effort, more interaction, and motivation to learn a second language. Studies have concluded that learning them simultaneously is magnitudes easier for both baby and parents.
“At this age, becoming multilingual is too late.”
Children can always learn another language, at any age—as can adults. Granted, it is easier during the early critical period. But, creating a more stimulating learning environment will jump start your little language student no matter when he starts.
“You will confuse a child by raising it with two or more languages.”
This is an old belief prevalent in monolingual countries, and it’s a belief that has almost become political. Rest assured that your child’s little brain has more than enough horsepower to cope with two languages (or more) without affecting the dominant language. This has been proven by decades of research and countless families around the world, including the many bilingual countries where multilingualism is the norm, not the exception: Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and Finland, just to name a few.
More multilingual myths—>