After almost 18 months nurturing SpanglishBaby into the incredible useful online resource for those raising bilingual and bicultural children it has become thanks to all our readers, I tend to think that everyone knows about the myths and misconceptions associated with bilingualism (or multilingualism). I guess after such a long time reading, researching and learning about the benefits of bilingualism, it’s easy to forget that not everybody is aware of them.
So I was bit surprised last week when I was approached by a mom who was really concerned about her daughter’s lack of vocabulary for her age and was starting to think that maybe growing up bilingual was the culprit. She mentioned how in her daughter’s daycare the only other child who’s vocabulary is not as developed as the others is also being raised bilingual. She wanted to know if maybe they were confusing her daughter by not sticking to just one language. As we’ve mentioned in the past, the “confusion myth” is one of the most prevalent and popular ones, but it has been debunked over and over by bilingualism experts including our very own.
First of all, I must say that I really appreciate having the opportunity to share the truths behind bilingualism with other parents. It’s crazy how much harm myths and misconceptions can create and how easily they spread. After asking a few key questions, such as the age of the child and her language development so far, I assured her she shouldn’t worry at all since it sounded like her daughter was doing perfectly fine—especially after finding out she’s actually exposed to THREE languages, thanks to her Asian grandmother.
Since I really don’t have all the answers—even after all the months spent learning about bilingualism—I suggested this mom go through some of our archives to get more information from our experts. I then decided to do the same search myself and came up with the following posts which I’d like to share with you in case you have the same concerns or know of someone who does:
- Ask an Expert: Does my Son Have a Speech Delay Because he’s Bilingual?
- Should my Daughter’s Speech Delay Prevent her from Learning Two Languages?
- My Bilingual Son Has a Language Delay
- How Many Languages are too Many for my Child?
- Will Introducing a Third Language Confuse our Child?
Although some of these articles were posted a while back, I was pleasantly surprised when I revisited them and found out that there continues to be activity in the comments section as recently as last week. I think it’s always a great idea to check out the comments since other parents like to share they’re own experiences and have even come back a few months later to update us on how their children are doing.
At the end of the day, and as I told the mom who asked me for advice, the best thing to do if you’re really concerned about your child’s language development is to consult with a speech therapist or specialist. I would just make sure that they have experience with bilingualism because if not—and I know this is hard to believe—they might not be prepared to deal with your bilingual child.
What were some of your worries when you started thinking about raising your kids bilingual? What’s the biggest or most popular misconception you’ve heard regarding bilingualism? What’s the best piece of advice you have related to bilingualism?