Changing environment, learning new language and new culture,being a wife and a mother, living far away from families and friends, I have come to share my views, thoughts, feelings, ideas on so many things that I cherish.

June 26, 2013

12 Common Myths And Misconceptions About Bilingual Children

As an Expat woman and a mother who is raising two Bilingual Multilingual children, I'm always concerned about the development of my kids especially when it comes to language. Several parents that I know who are also raising bi/multilingual kids are worried because of many misconceptions they hear. These misconceptions mostly come from neighbours, friends, kindergartens, schools, paediatricians, e.t.c. As a child developer myself, I know that they are just common myths. I know what to believe and what not to even when its an idea from a school teacher. 
I just read a book "Raising a bilingual child" by Barbara Zurer Pearson Phd. and she wrote about the  12 Common Myths And  Misconceptions About Bilingual Children. I can't just keep it all to myself, I feel I have to share it with my readers and whoever and everybody that is raising bi/multilingual children. Hope this helps.

These are 12 Myths and Misconceptions ........

1. Myth: Bilingual Children start to speak later than monolinguals.
    What We Know: There is no specific evidence supporting this. Bilinguals and monolinguals share the same wide window for normal development. 

2. Myth: Bilinguals starts out school behind monolinguals and they never catch up.
    What We Know: In fact, bilingual children tend to have faster growth curves than monolingual children.

3. Myth:Young children soak up languages like sponge.
    What We Know: Children seem to have easier time learning languages than adults, but we should not underestimate the effort it takes and should not expect them to learn perfectly from the beginning.

4. Myth: Bilinguals are just like two monolinguals in one person.
    What We Know: There are special capabilities that bilinguals have and monolinguals do not.  Bilinguals most often have one (dominant) language that is comparable to that of a monolingual, and another weaker one, which they use less often. In any conversation, bilinguals choose whether to operate in a monolingual or
bilingual mode.

5. Myth:You have to be gifted in languages in order  to learn two languages at once.
    What We Know: Early language learning is not like a talent and does not require a special gift; it's part of being human, like walking or seeing with two eyes.
6. Myth: If  bilinguals scores lower on standardized test, it shows they have lower aptitude than the average monolingual child.
    What We Know:  Standardized tests examine just a part of bilingual's language aptitude (i.e. just one language) and compare it to monolingual's entire language aptitude. Average scores for bilinguals do not take into account different patterns of language dominance.  There are, as of this writing, no standardized tests that are appropriate for use with bilingual children.

7. Myth: Latino immigrants in the U.S. resist learning English and want everyone to learn to speak Spanish.
    What We Know: Very few Latino immigrants do not speak English; there are not enough programs that teach English to accommodate the demand for them. Programs that use Spanish as well as English do so in part because helps children learn English faster and better.

8. Myth: Some languages are more primitive than others and therefore easier to learn. The reason so many people can speak English is that English has less grammar than other languages.
    What We Know: There is no such thing as a primitive language or language without a "Grammar". All languages are infinitely complex and yet learnable. 

9. Myth: Speaking a second language is it's own reward.
   What We Know: This may be true but we cannot expect children to see it that way. We must make it meaningful for them to know by providing contact with interesting people doing fascinating things in the second language.
10. Myth: Parents who do not speak a  language  perfectly will pass their errors and accents on to their children.
      What We Know: This might be true only if the child never heard any other speakers, which is unlikely to happen with parents who are non-native speakers of either a majority or  a minority language.

11. Myth: If a bilingual child experiences any language problems in one or both languages, dropping one of the languages will fix the situation.
     What We Know: There is no evidence that this  is so. Children who have problem with two languages generally also have them with one.

12. Myth: There is only one right way to raise a bilingual child.
      What We Know: Parents are the experts in this field. The only wrong way to raise a bilingual child is not to do it. If you haven't already, now is time to start.

Are you raising bi/multilingual kid/s or do you intend to do so? What's your opinion. Share with us.

1 comment:

Glenda Gee said...

I found this very interesting. I am sure that bi lingual children have a great advantage in that they develop concepts accourding to the nuances of the language. I also wonder if it is easier for children if each language has similar grammatic rules e.g. Italian and English.

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