Does Learning Two Languages Cause Speech Delay?

Canada is a wonderful mosaic of different cultures, traditions, and languages. According to the statistics from 2012, Canadians speak over 140 languages other than English and French. This means a lot of people have questions about teaching their children a second or third language. Since there are so many myths about bilingualism, let’s take some time and talk about them.

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First, the facts!

FACT# 1:  The world is becoming increasingly multilingual.

In Canada, 30% of the population speaks a language other than English and French in the home. Worldwide, there is a slightly higher number of bilingual children than monolingual children. Bilingualism is a norm!


FACT # 2: Learning two languages is beneficial! 

Consider this: Research has found that bilingual children have a better attention span, are better at problem solving activities, and are more creative than their monolingual peers. Bilingualism has also been found to delay the onset of dementia by 4 years!


FACT # 3: Bilingual children can have the same speech delays as children who learn one language. 

Bilingualism doesn’t necessarily cause language delay but it doesn’t protect from delays or disorders either. If you are concerned that your child has an underlying speech or language disorder, it is important to get it checked right away.


Now, some myths surrounding bilingualism. 

Myth # 1: Growing up with more than one language is confusing for children. 

False. This was a very prevalent misconception in the past and many therapists and teachers encouraged parents drop their native language. However, we now know that even as early as 6 months, children can tell the difference between two different languages. They are not going to confuse two languages even if they are taught both at the same time.


Myth # 2: Bilingualism causes speech delay.  

While some children who learn two languages at once take a little bit longer to start talking, this delay is temporary and bilingual children catch up to their monolingual peers very quickly. Even if a child has been diagnosed with a speech delay, exposing him/her to two languages will not make speech any more delayed

Now that we have separated fact from fiction about bilingualism, we want to know what you think. Do you think it’s a good idea to learn two languages? Have you ever been told bilingualism causes speech delay?

Share your stories in the comment box below!


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