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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 their dominant language. Over time, the dominant language may change. For example, a child who speaks Spanish at home may start to use English when they start school. Their 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.
There are a number of ways to teach your child to speak more than one language. You can:
Every bilingual child is unique. Learning two languages depends on the amount and type of practice your child gets. The following are some basic guidelines:
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 they need to learn other languages. But try not to make a sudden change in your child’s routine. This can be stressful.
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, they may need help from a speech-language pathologist, or SLP. To find a speech-language pathologist near you, visit ProFind.
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