The Advantages of Being Bilingual
Most children have the capacity and facility to learn more than one language. Researchers say that there are advantages to being bilingual. These advantages might include;
- Being able to learn new words easily
- Playing rhyming games with words like "cat" and "hat"
- Breaking down words by sounds, such as C-A-T for cat
- Being able to use information in new ways
- Putting words into categories
- Coming up with solutions to problems
- Good listening skills
- Connecting with others
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than one in 5 school-aged children (21%) speak a language other than English at home. That number of bilingual speakers is projected to increase in the coming years.
Children who are learning to speak two languages follow patterns of learning. The sounds of the first language can influence how children learn and use a second language. It is easier to learn sounds and words when the languages you are learning are similar. Over time, the more difficult sounds and words will be learned.
Fact: Communication disorders affect more than 42 million Americans. Of these, 28 million have a hearing loss and 14 million have a speech or language disorder.
If a child has a speech or language problem, it will show up in both languages. However, these problems are not caused by learning two languages. If you know a child who is learning a second language and you have concerns about speech and language development, ASHA recommends contacting a bilingual speech-language pathologist (SLP). If you are unable to find a bilingual speech-language pathologist, look for a SLP who has knows the rules and structure of both languages and who has access to an interpreter. For more information or for a referral to a SLP, contact ASHA at 800-638-TALK (8255) (Spanish-speaking operators available)
Brochure on Bilingualism Available
A brochure, "Teaching Your Child Two Languages," is available to consumers free of charge from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This brochure is written for parents and describes how children learn to be bilingual, and what parents can do to facilitate the learning process.
A Spanish brochure "El niño y el bilingüismo" answers questions about raising a bilingual child and provides tips and resources for parents on teaching a child a second language. For a free brochure, consumers may call 800-638-8255 (Spanish-speaking operators available).