Some bicultural families have to deal with the decision of how, when, and if they should make their children be bilingual. They worry that if instead of helping their kids doing so, it may hurt them. Most people agree that in long terms, being bilingual is a great tool. Since most parents agree on that, not all agree on how early kids should be introduce to a second language. Should it be as soon as they are born, or first learn one language and then a second?
Growing Up in a Bilingual Family
Educators and psychologists will advice to introduce a second language when kids are under the age of 3. De Houwer, (1999) says “Brain imaging studies show that languages in bilingual infants are stored closer together in the brain than in later bilinguals. This means, learning another language after the age of 3 both takes greater effort and is treated differently by the brain compared to the child who acquires them simultaneously.” The earliest a child is exposed to a second language, the better. Contrary to what many parents think that their kids may get confused and end up not learning completely either language. For instance, there are cases of kids who were exposed to two languages and by the age of 6 they know very well both languages. And the people that learn a second language in an adult age, they are most likely to have an accent after several years of been speaking a foreigner language, and most likely they will have their accent for a lifetime. Although, researches show that “The main reason for dominance in one language is that the child has had greater exposure to it and needs it more to communicate with people in the immediate environment” (Grosjean, 1983, p.209), and it is not usual that kids are exposed to two languages equally. There is usually one dominant language or mother language, and the minority language. This is why the minority language, should be balance by reading, dancing with music that has lyrics of the...
References: Cunningham, U. & Anderson, S. (2002). Growing up with two languages: A practical
Guide. New York: Taylor and Francis Group.
De Houwer, A. (1999). Two or more languages in Early Childhood. Retrieved from
Grosjean, F. (1992). Life with two languages. Massachusetts: Harvard University
Harding-Esch, E. & Riley, P. (2008). The bilingual family: A handbook for parents.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
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