Five common myths about raising bilingual children

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Surprising as it may be, I was once a child, but one who happened to grow up in a multilingual environment but dominated by English.

That I actually ended up having a career using my languages from childhood did not come easily. I had to overcome some major hurdles 🚧 in the form of widely-accepted myths that many in society, including “experts”, applied as policy, particularly when I started school in Australia.

👉🏾 Here are 5 myths debunked about multilingual parenting:

🗣 Children are confused hearing more than one language

💡It wasn’t for me! It’s cliched to say but children are sponges. Just because some adults find multiple languages confusing because they were not raised in a multilingual environment doesn’t mean that it’s the same for children.

🗣 Raising children bilingually delays their speech

💡So what? And what makes you sure that hearing multiple languages is the cause. Whether a child starts speaking at 2 or at 5 is no barometer of their future skills and prospects.

🗣 ‘One parent, one language’ is the only method that works for mixed-language families

💡There is never any one or sure-fire method that works. We’re all individual.

🗣 Starting school without [the language of instruction] is a disadvantage

💡If this was really the case, then in the first few years of school all monolingual children would be excelling and the bilingual and multilingual children faltering. However, the reality is often the opposite.

🗣 Mixing languages leads to children not speaking any language well at all

💡Does anyone really speak a language ‘well’? Even monolingual children don’t speak their sole language well – making mistakes is part of any learning process, and children go to school so as to learn things such as spelling, grammar, irregularities, etc.

➡️ If there is one piece of advice I give to parents, it’s that they speak to their children in the language they feel most comfortable in.

☝️ And remember that people speak languages foremost out of a need to communicate in that language.

✍ Brilliant quote here from Dr Anikó Hatoss:
It’s important to remember that languages are a lifelong journey. There is no ‘never’ when it comes to learning.

👇🏽 More details about how these myths are just myths in the article in the comments.

❔ What advice do you give for raising children in a bilingual or multilingual environment?