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Children can learn to speak more than one language. They can learn
languages at home, at school, or in the community. Some children can
speak both languages easily. But sometimes they know one language
better than the other. The language your child knows better is her
dominant language. Over time, the dominant language may change. For
example, a child who speaks Spanish at home may start to use English
when she starts school. Her dominant language could change from
Spanish to English.
Speaking two languages is like any other skill. You need a lot of
practice to do it well. Without practice, your child will have a
harder time using both languages.
Teaching Your Child To Be Bilingual
There are a number of ways to teach your child to speak more than one
language. You can:
Use two languages from the start. Many children grow up learning two
languages at the same time. Use only one language at home. Your child
can learn the second language when he starts school. Give your child
many chances to hear and practice both languages during the day.
Learning More Than One Language
Every bilingual child is unique. Learning two languages depends on the
amount and type of practice your child gets. The following are some
Most bilingual children speak their first words by the time they are 1
year old. By age 2, most children can use two-word phrases. Phrases
like "my ball" or "more juice" can be in one or both languages. From
time to time, children may mix grammar rules. They might use words
from both languages in the same sentence. This is a normal part of
becoming bilingual. Some children may not talk much when they start
using a second language. This “silent period” can last for several
months. Again, this is normal and will go away. Ways To Help Your
Child Become Bilingual
Books. You can read to your child in both languages. You can find the
books you need at bookstores, at libraries, and on the Internet.
Music. Singing is a great way to introduce a second language to your
child. And, it can be a lot of fun! TV and videos. Children’s
programs are available in many languages. These programs teach
children about numbers, letters, colors, and simple words. Language
programs. Children can learn other languages at camps or in bilingual
school programs. These give children the chance to use two languages
with other children. Talking With Your Child
Your child might have trouble using both languages. In this case, talk
to your child in the language you know best. You should do this even
if your child uses a different language at school. A good language
model gives your child the skills he needs to learn other languages.
But try not to make a sudden change in your child’s routine. This can
Remember, children all over the world learn more than one language all
the time. Learning another language will not cause or worsen speech or
language problems. Bilingual children develop language skills just as
other children do.
If your child starts having trouble in both languages, he may need
help from a speech-language pathologist, or SLP. To find a
speech-language pathologist near you, visit ProFind.