Bilingualism for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

There is growing evidence that not only is learning two languages possible for children with developmental delays but that by supporting the child’s home language, the child can acquire a second language just as quickly if not more so than children whose home languages are not targeted in therapy. A child can generalize language skills and map on the second language more quickly if therapy is provided in the child’s stronger language, which is usually the child’s primary language, primary meaning the language the child was first exposed to. To simplify, I’ll use the common acronyms L1 (Language 1) and L2 (Language 2). For our really young clients who are still toddlers, L1 will still be their strongest language. However, as they get older, a shift happens where the majority language seeps in and takes hold and while L1, if not supported and reinforced, begins to crumble. For those of us in early intervention and preschool, we are at a good time to reverse this language attrition. There are many consequences to loss of L1, not just for the child but for their families too. The old school of thought was that children with language impairment should focus on just one language as adding a second language would be too confusing. The current research does not support this line of thought. The goal of this website is to spread information to the families we work with so that they can make informed decisions on how to proceed with passing on their language to their child.

 

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