Bilingual is Better

“Is it too late for my 3 (and three months) year old daughter to naturally acquire Spanish?

I am the only Spanish speaking parent, and English is spoken in the home. Her exposure to Spanish is limited, and I do what I can, but end up speaking in English to her.

I heard some of the theories that I might be approaching the point of no return at around 4 when she will no longer be able to acquire the language. True?


Dear Veronica,

Not true.  People of all ages acquire languages.  Exposure to the language is what is required.  The more Spanish your daughter hears, the more she will understand and use it.  I acquired Spanish at the age of 21.

There is research that suggests that people have a more difficult time acquiring the sounds of a language after a certain point.  People disagree on when that point is.  At 3, I think your daughter stands a great chance of acquiring both the sound system and the structure and vocabulary of Spanish.

Ellen Kester

Ellen Stubbe Kester, Ph.D, CCS-LLP – A bilingual (English/Spanish) speech language professional who earned her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from The University of Texas at Austin. She has provided bilingual Spanish/English speech-language services in schools, hospitals, and early intervention settings. Her research focus is on the acquisition of semantic language skills in bilingual children, with emphasis on assessment practices for the bilingual population. She is the President of Bilinguistics, which is “dedicated to enhancing speech and language services for Spanish-English bilingual children, enabling those children to achieve their highest communicative and academic potential.” You can read her answers here.

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