- To enrol my child in BAPS (or BES) do I need to be fluent in English?
- If parents are fluent English speakers, do they have to speak English to their child at home?
- Can bilingualism cause children delays in first language acquisition or confusion?
- What is the best age to become bilingual?
- How long does it take to become bilingual?
- What happens if my child does not understand the language spoken by teachers and schoolmates?
- Do children mix languages?
- What are the advantages of bilingualism?
- How can I support my child’s second language development or help him with his homework, if I do not speak English?
- How do I know if my child is making progress?
- Will my child have any academic or linguistic difficulty compared to his monolingual peers?
- When I ask my child to say a word in English, he replies he can’t; however, he has been attending this school for three years. I think he is not learning...
No, children have an innate ability to discriminate between language and non-language sounds. They have no difficulty in learning the sounds of two or more languages. First language acquisition takes place before the age of three. After this age the child’s brain plasticity enables them to learn a second language - with correct pronunciation - without any confusion between first and second language.
The best age goes from birth to pre-school. To grow bilingual children it is important to expose the child to both languages as early as possible: the longer you wait, the bigger the risk to miss the cognitive benefits that bilingualism gives to the child’s brain, which is highly plastic in the earliest months of life. In other words, children are able to manage multiple languages from birth.
It depends on different factors, including individual characteristics. Various studies show that it takes children in bilingual programs about two years to develop verbally, and from 5 to 8 years to implement their second language skills academically. Infant bilinguals have an advantage: they can speak their second language without an accent. For this reason it is important to expose children to both languages as soon as possible. This is also why, it may be limitative to start a bilingual path and interrupt it in Year 5.