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18 Mar '17

Can my little baby learn two languages at the same time?

Posted by Sandra Sosa
In the modern world where the globalization has facilitated the establishment of couples from different cultures and languages besides the fact that some families raise their children in countries different of those where they were born, parents usually face a hard cross roads decision about what language must their kids learn first.

Is it better to talk them the language of the country they life in? Or perhaps is it better to teach since the very beginning the parent's country of origin language?, even worse, when both parents have a different mother tongue, which one should be taught to the kids first?

The fact is that these concerns should not be a major issue because there's an easy, practical and feasible solution: Make no differences!

During the first two years of life, a little baby is able to learn much more than we can imagine, in fact, during this stage of language development babies' brain don't work as adults associating word = language = meaning; instead they are making associations sound = things; thus the same thing may have more than one sound.Bilingual Kids

Just to figure it clearly; a doll might me named by a little girls as "du-du" and when little baby says "du-du, du-du", the mother says "Oh! You wish your doll, here it is!" And the baby will be happy, otherwise if the mother says: "Are you looking your your teddy bear?" The little baby will cry because teddy bear is not du-du.

Hence, even when she uses a particular phoneme (du-du), her brain is able to associate a second sound "the word used by mommy" to the same object and it's this figurative process which leads to language development, something like this:

For the baby: doll = "du-du", but the baby knows that the same object is called "doll" by mom; thus du-du and doll are the same thing; that's a very simplified explanation of human language development during the early childhood but ... Is it possible to include another variable on the aforementioned equation?

YES! Of course! If daddy names the doll as "mueñeca" (in Spanish) thus the baby will do the following association:

For me this object is "du-du" and for mommy is "doll" but for daddy is "muñeca"; at the end all three sounds refers to the same thing.

Later on the language development the primitive sound (du-du) will be left aside as a primitive language and the baby's brain will begin to organize formal language on this way: How mommy names things and How daddy does.

The process is too easy for children and completely natural; in fact, it has been demonstrated that little kids could handle up to three languages simultaneously without any issue; furthermore, during the adulthood they will manage all languages learned this way (during early language development process) as mother tongues! Thus, a child may have more than just one mother tongue!

As you see, there's nothing to be concern about regarding languages and no hard decisions must be taken; moreover talking your little ones more than one language will allow them to grow up with more than one mother tongue which implies an edge on the adulthood, even more, some researches indicate that kids raised on multilingual environments tend to have better academic outcomes, are smarter and have more success on their lives; thus, are you still worry about choosing a language to teach your offspring? No way! Teach them as much languages as you can! They will be able to learn all of them for sure.

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