When Should We Establish A Bilingual Environment For Our Kids?

    We knew there’re so many parents keep thinking about: when and how to let their children learn native language and 2nd (foreign) language simultaneously? The answer is: the sooner, the better!

    Some studies have shown that infants have already started to learn languages before their birth. They will try to find out what languages sounds like outside mothers’ wombs. Actually, mother’s voices are the most frequent and important one can be heard for babies. That’s why they could recognize mother’s language right away after birth. Moreover, they may also be able to differentiate other languages.

    Research also indicates that it is the best opportunity to initiate learning of the 2nd language for kids before their first birthday. We found children who learn two languages simultaneously after birth could also be native speakers of these two ones. On the contrary, if any adults start to learn their 2nd language after grown-up, their language skills and fluency could not be equal to any native speakers.

    ◢ Golden Period: before one year old

    Scientists said many newborns are capable of distinguishing more than 800 different pronunciations. They also have the ability to learn any languages can be heard around. According to related researches, babies growing up in monolingual environment would focus on the pronunciation of their native language while 6 to 12 months. After they become one year old, they could even lose the abilities to tell different pronunciations from foreign languages.

    In the meantime, what about those babies in bilingual environment? Is it truly possible that babies could specialize in two different languages simultaneously? Some researches show babies from English families would easy to receive and handle voices of English, but barely recognize voices of Spanish; on the other hand, babies from bilingual families of English and Spanish are better processing the voices of the two languages. Which means, brains of babies will adapt themselves naturally to environment of multi-languages.

    ◢ Switching over languages won’t confuse babies.

    Another common concern of parents is: would bilingual environment make their babies feel confused in learning?

    Some studies reveal that children in bilingual environment could feel easy and comfort to switch over between different languages. Bilingual parents or adults accompanied around are probably the main reason. Consequently, the abilities of switching over languages should be considered as a normal development for those bilingual kids. Studies also point out: so-called “advantage of bilinguals” might actually originate from those “normal developments”.

    The process of switching over won’t confuse those bilingual kids, but also bring “advantage of bilinguals” and cognitive abilities to them. More than that, child growing up in bilingual environment owns a better comprehensive mind than fellows in similar ages. These kids also show that they are good at executing multi-tasks. It could be easier for them to devote themselves into new tasks. Some studies said bilingual kids perform even better while learning their 3rd language.

    From here it can be seen that if any parents expect their kids skilled more than one language, they should initiate the bilingual-learning as early as possible. In fact, some educational experts suggest parents may start it even in the age that their kids don’t know/speak any languages.

    In the meantime, if the kids are still too young, experts remind that parents should let their kids learn languages by their own naturally. Feel free to try any possibilities. Merits or demerits, advantages or disadvantages should be the last thing parents worry about.

    ◢ Five notices to parents about bilingual-learning:
    1. The early learning of languages is not exactly “winning at the starting line”.
    2. The original intention, aka your first thought, of language-learning is for communication, not for showing off!
    3. No stress! No stress! No stress!
    4. Let them make their own choices.
    5. Never give up your mother language at any time.

    Now, parents! Do you gather up all the threads of bilingual-learning for kids? Conclusion: let your child learn it as early as possible! And you guys should find the best way---and the most comfort way for your kids to start their journey of bilingual-learning.

    You don’t want to see them to hate studying just because of the wrong way parents forced them to. Let your kids try their best to find a proper way of learning. And the most important thing you should remember is: enjoy the learning while trying it!