This post is adapted from an article by Wendy Brant, OTR/L.

If you have never heard the You Tube video of 4 year old Bella fluently answering questions in 7 languages, German, English, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and French, you can listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azcQZHthcKI. While this presents an obvious atypical case or possibly a prodigy, it brings up an interesting question: Are children predisposed toward bilingualism?

Children may learn languages simultaneously, both from the time of their birth, or sequentially, learning one language first, then the other, even before the age of three. Research indicates that there is no evidence that bilingual language learning causes delays in the development of language. (DeHouwer, 2009; Paradis, et al., 2011) Presently, more than 20% of school-aged children in the United States are bilingual.

If your child is learning two or more languages, consider the following:

Do not worry if the child mixes up languages, as this can be part of the learning process. A child may answer a parent or teacher in the incorrect language. While this may be discouraging to a parent, especially if the parent does not speak the other language, it is important to maintain patience and consistency.

Be aware that some language milestones may appear delayed in young children who are learning multiple languages, and this can be normal. If you have concerns about your bilingual child’s language development, here is a great resource: https://bilingualkidspot.com/2017/03/06/speech-delay-bilingual-kids-expert-advice-speech-therapist/

References and resources for more information:

http://thebilingualadvantage.com/advice-for-parents-2/