Guide to raising bilingual kids

Concerns about raising bilingual kids

Even in a modern globalized world, many parents are reluctant to expose their infants to more than one language mostly because this is not the way they used to grow up, they have no idea how to do it, how it works, and are afraid to harm their babies. First, here are the main concerns regarding bilingualism in total and raising a kid bilingually in particular:

1. Multilingualism isn’t normal

According to the latest statistics more than the half of the planet can speak more than one language. And historically early humans were multilingual too. Every tribe used to speak their own language, and in order to communicate with neighboring tribes they had to learn their language and vice versa. Monolingualism wasn’t the usual state of things until the emergence of national states in the 19th century, and it had to be imposed upon those groups of population, who spoke languages and dialects other than the capital of the state. You can look at the history of Great Britain, France, Spain, Russia, etc.

2. It causes an impairment deficit, stunted intelligence

These concerns were an academic consensus, but were debunked because contained methodological flaws. Studies without these flaws proved that there is no impairment, conversely, bilingual kids were more intellectually capable in certain tasks, mentioned in the “Advantages.”

3. Confusion and language mixing

At the age of 3-4 bilingual kids tend to mix, which scares parents and many give up one language, just to discover that now it has to be learned as a second one with all aforementioned difficulties. By the age of five all bilingual kids already can discriminate the languages. It’s not a real concern, but parents tend to be anxious about everything.

4. Kids cannot handle so much information

Many uneducated people tend to project their experience over their kids’ future. They think it’s too much to learn more than one language for a kid at once – kids’ brains are not capable, or it can result in lesser vocabulary. However, the truth is that the human brain is capable of many amusing things, baby brain can even more. Due to the physiology of the brain development, baby not only can handle two and more languages, but starting as early as possible is the best strategy. There are millions of natural bilinguals in the world, yet no one had language development problems because of bilingualism. As for the vocabularies – it’s just a matter of exposure. As long as it’s qualitative and takes at least 30% of child’s time, the vocabulary size in each language is going to be equal to that of a monolingual kid. [Link #10]

And we are finished with concerns, time to move to theory of brain development and language acquisition