How do kids learn a second language?

Bilingual Language Development

Should I introduce my child to a second language?
When is the right time?
How do I do it?

As Speech Pathologists, we understand that as parents you want to do what’s best for your child and may feel unsure about if, when or how to introduce your child to a language other than English. Here at Cooee Speech Pathology, our team of Speech Pathologists frequently support families who are teaching their children more than one language.

So what are the important things to know about bilingual language development?

Firstly the term Bilingual refers to the ability to understand and or use two languages.

The language development of bilingual children is similar to that of children who are only learning one language. They go through the same developmental milestones and make similar mistakes. However, if your child is experiencing delays in reaching their language milestones, then they may require support from a speech pathologist.

All children are capable of learning another language.

This includes children who have developmental delays or learning difficulties. Learning another language does not cause language and speech difficulties or make them worse.

You can teach your child to speak more than one language in a number of ways. You can:

Use two languages from the beginning and teach your child both languages at the same time.
Use only one language at home and support your child’s second language development through other means such as childcare, playgroups or school.
How well your child is able to understand and use a language will depend on the type and amount of exposure they get to that language.

Mixing up languages is typical.

It is typical for children who are learning more than one language to use words from both languages in the same sentence or mix up grammar rules. This is called Code-mixing or code-switching.

Speaking the language you feel most comfortable and confident with is best!

Providing your child with a good language model will help support their language development. Provide your child with lots of opportunities to speak, hear and play with language.
Check out a Speech Pathologist Tips for Early Language Toys blog for toys and game ideas to help support your little ones language development!

If you would like to find out more, have any questions or are concerned about your child’s language development please get in touch with us at our north Brisbane Speech Pathology clinic either via phone (07 3265 4495) or email ([email protected]). Our Brisbane-based Speech Pathologists love to support children to become confident communicators, and we would be delighted to help your child with their speech and language development.

Kimberly Killick
Speech Pathologist