Language for the Baby
Hi everyone, may I ask if someone here has an experience regarding language learning with a baby? My husband speaks a foreign language and a lot of our friends are telling us that according to their experience, a baby who hears two or more different languages being spoken around him will have a delay in terms of his ability to talk. Is there any scientific basis to this claim? My son will be celebrating his first birthday this coming Sunday and I think that he is starting to really understand spoken language (because he shows an attitude when I say No!), and so my husband is insisting on teaching his own mother tongue to the little bub. I just wan to make sure that we are not contributing to any developmental delay in our child.
There are a lot of myths surrounding children who grow up in bilingual homes. But in general, hildren who learn two languages in a loving, supportive environment develop very well. Children who learn two languages in a stressful environment may have language development problems or developmental problems, but so would a child learning a single language.
What's most important here is that your child be raised in a non-stressful, loving and supportive environment. Children can learn 2 languages easily, when both are spoken regularly in the home.
You will find that your son will understand language before he can speak. This is very normal and is very healthy.
I think it's wonderful that your husband wants to teach your son his mother tongue and your son should pick it up easily if he is exposed to it regularly. A child who goes to school and hears one language all day in school, but whose family speaks a completely different language at home will learn both languages very well and it won't cause a developmental delay unless the child is in a stressful environment. There are families that also teach their young children sign language, and this is something you could teach your son now so that he can communicate easier with you. He will be able to sign the word "more" before he will be able to speak the word.
Learning two languages... it's a good thing :-)
I appreciate your reply, Kate. Your suggestion about teaching my son how to sign is genius. :)
We have just finished 'baby signing' classes. As Kate says, children can comprehend language before they can express it so this is a great way of helping your son to communicate what he wants. You may also find it helps his behaviour to settle down as he is no longer frustrated.
As I as a certified English teacher, I can assure you that children growing up in bilingual homes rarely show delays in language development. On the contrary, they tend to grasp it sooner and have higher reasoning skills. I think that baby sign language is a great suggestion for helping your little one to cope with frustration regarding communication. Didn't I read in a previous thread that he is only 11 months old? He sounds to be in the perfectly normal range for that age. Getting an attitude and refusing to obey is part of testing limits and something that all children go through, by the way.