Myths About Teaching Kids a Foreign Language

June 24, 2020

As research increasingly reports the benefits of raising bilingual children, more and more parents are starting to wonder if language lessons make sense for their kids. Unfortunately, when it comes to teaching kids a foreign language, many misconceptions are still circulating. Let’s debunk the most common misconceptions together!

Myth: Exposing Infants and Toddlers to Kids Language Lessons Can Cause Speech Delays and Cognitive Confusion.

Fact: Studies of bilingual children show that, similar to monolingual infants, most begin to speak their first words around the age of one. By age two, both monolingual and bilingual children are generally beginning to piece together two-word phrases. As children develop, bilingual children do sometimes mix part of a word from one language with part of a word from another. But, while this does sometimes lead to difficulty in understanding them when they speak, it has not been shown to be indicative of any cognitive delays.

Myth: Bilingual Children Experience Greater Academic Struggles as They Age

Fact: While a commonly held belief, the exact opposite has been repeatedly proven to be true. Study after study shows that kids who either learn a second language at home or participate in language programs for toddlers perform markedly better in school settings. Specifically, these studies cite an increased ability to focus on tasks, a higher level of social-emotional skills, and higher scores on high-stakes exams in bilingual or multilingual children.

Myth: Teaching Young Kids a Second Language is an Expensive Luxury

Fact: Somehow the myth that language lessons for kids are a luxury reserved for those with hours of extra time and endless amounts of discretionary money continues to circulate. While, yes, elite private language schools can be pricey, technology has provided for a number of options that make language learning accessible to every family. From virtual, one-on-one lessons with an experienced instructor to downloadable animated videos in a target language, learning a second language is alarmingly affordable these days.

Myth: I Can’t Teach My Child a Second Language If I Don’t Speak It

Fact: A common concern among parents, teaching your child a language you don’t speak can seem like an impossible proposition. In reality it’s not nearly as challenging as it sounds. The key is immersing your child in the target language as often as you can. From language immersion lessons to virtual and in-person playgroups and summer camps, there are nearly endless ways to surround your child with the language they’re learning. Additionally, there are hundreds of bilingual books, movies, and musical options that facilitate daily learning opportunities without you taking on the language yourself. But, if you want to get in on the adventure and model the learning behavior you’re encouraging in your child, learning a second language at the same time as your child makes for a fun and exciting bonding experience.

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Looking to get started or find out more about how the Language Workshop for Children can support your children in their language learning adventure? We’d love to answer all your questions — just reach out!

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