Our opinion on second (sometimes even third or fourth!) languages is the earlier the better! The sooner you expose your child to the sounds, words, and intonation of a language the more likely they will become fluent in the language. This is because it becomes second nature speaking the language since the sound system is ingrained in them. For them to be able to possibly hold a basic or even advanced conversation in the country of their ancestors in the future is such a valuable experience! Many people ask us if bilingualism causes language delays and the answer is NO! If a child has an expressive and receptive language delay it is in both languages. Yes, children learning more than one language at a time might be slower in acquiring language, but that is just because they are processing more simultaneously. They can present with a >25% delay during testing, which is considered normal.
Research says that if your child has a language delay greater than 25% to stick to one language, but this is of course determined on a case by case basis. We advise parents to pick the language they are strongest in to nurture their child’s development – you want them to learn appropriate vocabulary, grammar, and even slang/sayings that sound natural. Often children catch up around 2-3 years of age and are proficient in both languages by age 5. Some parents choose to get speech therapy not due to a delay, but if they want to see an increase in language and vocabulary – it is always an option! Overall, culture and backgrounds are a beautiful thing… and we encourage people to embrace where they are from since it adds so much meaning to our lives!