Ask the Expert – Language Acquisition

This post is a reply to a discussion posted in our Facebook group.  Click here for the original thread.

 

Thank you for your questions.

The topic of questions seems to be generated around language acquisition and its effect on speech development. For a typically developing child, using two languages simultaneously does NOT have a negative impact on the child’s development. Your child’s brain is meant to absorb new information and filter it appropriately. After age three, children should be able to discriminate between two different languages appropriately. Mixing two languages within a sentence is also normal when used in appropriate sociolinguistic settings (i.e. using two different languages when speaking to someone who understands both; then using only one language to someone who is monolingual).

In my clinical opinion, you can use both languages simultaneously with a typically developing child. Please see supporting evidence below. “However, there is no scientific evidence to date that hearing two or more languages leads to delays or disorders in language acquisition. Many, many children throughout the world grow up with two or more languages from infancy without showing any signs of language delays or disorders. These children provide visible proof that there is no causal relationship between a bilingual environment and language learning problems. In addition, there is no scientific evidence that giving up one language automatically has a beneficial effect on the other. In fact, the abrupt end of the use of the home language by a child’s parents may lead to great emotional and psychological difficulties both for the parents and for the child. “ This excerpt was adapted from the CAL article “Two or More Languages in Early Childhood: Some General Points and Practical Recommendations” (Annick De Houwer, University of Antwerp and Science Foundation of Flanders, Belgium) http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/earlychild.html

As far as speech development is concerned, all children develop differently. Your child’s environment, social setting, family history, and interaction plays a crucial role as to how quickly they will begin to speak. To help with your child’s speech development, I would encourage a lot of conversational speech with your child. While the ‘ooh and aahhs’ is encouraged to bond with your baby, it won’t help them build vocabulary. You should show excitement and use different intonations, however, don’t forget to speak with them in normal adult conversational speech. The oldest method of helping your child build on words is of course, READING. Read as much as possible with your child. Engage them in the story by points and asking questions, even if they cannot answer them yet. Eventually they will respond. For more information on appropriate speech development, please refer to the American Speech and Hearing Association development chart. In addition to a general time line, it gives detailed methods and strategies on how to help your child with their speech development.

Please note this a general guideline. As mentioned previously, different factors affect children’s speech differently.

As part of this topic, I would like to incorporate a few detailed developmental charts that were adapted from scholastic. Please follow the links below to see the  charts for different developmental domains.

Children’s Creative Development

Motor Skills

Developmental Thinking

Development of Play

I hope that the information above will answer all of your questions. For further assistance or information, please email me at olga.chernomaz@duallanguageacademy.com