Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Worried about speech delay in your bilingual child?

Well, don't worry! Bilingual children all over the world are growing and developing just fine. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has some great advice for worried parents.
Will learning two languages cause speech or language problems?

No. Children all over the world learn more than one language without developing speech or language problems. Bilingual children develop language skills just as other children do.

What should I expect when my child learns more than one language?

Every bilingual child is unique. Developing skills in two languages depends on the quality and amount of experience the child has using both languages. The following are some basic guidelines:

•Like other children, most bilingual children speak their first words by the time they are 1 year old (e.g., "mama" or "dada"). By age 2, most bilingual children can use two-word phrases (e.g., "my ball" or "no juice"). These are the same language developmental milestones seen in children who learn only one language.
•From time to time, children may mix grammar rules, or they might use words from both languages in the same sentence. This is a normal part of bilingual language development.
•When a second language is introduced, some children may not talk much for a while. This "silent period" can sometimes last several months. Again, this is normal and will go away.
If my child is having trouble communicating, should we use only one language?

In this case, it's best to talk to your child in the language you're most comfortable with. This is true even if he or she uses a different language at school. But try not to make a sudden change in your child's routine. This can be stressful.

Children who are having problems in both languages may need professional help.


Gabrielle said...

My husband and I are working parents. Our 15 month old daugther spends the work days with both grandmothers. One grandmother speaks Spanish/English and the other speaks Hindi/English to her. My husband and I speak only English to her. My doctor is worried about a speech delay. Thoughts? She can say mama/dada. She immitates sounds and babbles, but no words. She's reached all other milestones for her age. Do you think its just confusion/use of these three languages?

Mon said...

Hello Gabrielle,

Your daughter is most likely confused with the 3 languages, which is normal. I would not worry at all. My child is exposed to English/Spanish and is taking time for him to speak, but the main issue is the fact that they are advancing. Multilingual children often experience speech delay. In the long run, it is better for their development. My son is 3 years old and still working on speaking. Your pediatrician might not be familiar with multilingual speech development. My son's pediatrician never thought this to be an issue. In fact Einstein never spoke until 4 years of age. If your daughter has reached her milestones fine, then she is most likely fine

Mrs.Huerta said...

My son is 3 years old and will be 4 in November I speak english my husband speaks spanish. the My son had his checkup today and the doctor said his speech is delayed he said that he is speaking spanish and english together. what can I do to teach my son to speak more slowly in english and in spanish.

Camilla Brandel said...

My son is 27 months old. My husband and I both speak only Portuguese at home, but my son constantly hears English in Early Centers, cartoons, etc.
I'm a little worried because his words are still very crude and are all 2-syllable words. He doesn't speak 3-syllable words, even if he knows all the necessary sounds.
Also, he's not putting 2 words together to make sentences. I mean, he has about 5 "sentences" (where are you?, got you, não mais- means "no more"...). Most of them in English.
Anyway, just wondering if we should seek any help.

Daniella said...

My daughter is 25 months old. My husband only speaks English to her and I only speak Spanish since we were advised that each of us should stick with only one language. I am the only one she learns Spanish from but I don't get to spend much time with her as I am a working mom. She understands everything in both languages but is behind on the speaking milestones. Also, when I read a book in Spanish to her she gets frustrated with Spanish and for instance tells me NO when I say "perro" because she was told it is "dog". She is probably saying only like 20 one-sylable words. She is far from saying 2-word sentences. I wonder if this is normal for a bilingual child or if I should take her to see a speech therapist. Thanks for your help.

Hedges said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hedges said...

My son is 7 years old and he occasionally has this odd out-of-breath speaking, which is on the verge of stuttering slightly. It typically happens when he is in a rush or excited about saying something quickly. Should it be checked out? He is otherwise fluent in 2 languages (Hungarian/English) and an English tutor sees him once a week to improve his speaking. We speak Hungarian in the house as we would like him not to lose it either.

ee said...

My husband and I both speak Russian to our daughter, who is now 18 months old. However, we speak English to each other, and take her to Music/Gym classes and play dates that are in English. She babbles a lot and understands a lot, but no intentional words (sometimes her babbles put together words, but she has no idea what she is saying). Do we need to seek help?

jowdjbrown said...

Every bilingual child is unique. Developing skills in two languages depends on the quality and amount of experience the child has using both languages. The following are some basic guidelines:speech recognition program