Will learning two languages make my child confused?

No! More people in the world speak two or more languages than one language. Learning two or more languages has lots of benefits.

Young children’s brains are like amazing computers. They learn a lot very quickly.

For example:

  • At birth, babies can distinguish between two languages that are quite different, e.g. Japanese & English
  • At birth, babies can tell the difference between most human speech sounds, even in languages they haven’t heard yet
  • By about 12 months old, children have learned which sounds are in the languages that they hear regularly.

Children start to hear important information about languages early. This shows up when they start making sounds. For instance, when 6 months-olds babble, some of the babbling is the same from every child, but some is different because of the different languages they speak. Children who learn a sign language babble too.

Our brains are very capable of learning several languages! As children grow up, they learn to tune into aspects of each of their languages, and learn about how they are similar and different.

When children learn more than one language, they usually mix words in the languages at some point. Does this mean that they don’t know that there is more than one language? Probably not. It probably means that they are still learning all of their words. It’s very common to mix words together.

A bilingual can communicate with more people, in more cultures, and be part of more social contexts.

Studies show that being bilingual or multilingual has advantages for cognition, or ways of thinking. Bilinguals do better on some activities than people who speak only one language do.

(Reference: De Houwer, Annick. Bilingual first language acquisition. Multilingual Matters, 2009)

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