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How Do I Teach My Child to Be Bilingual?

By Eugene O'Reilly

There are two definitions of bilingual. One means an ability to communicate equally in two languages. Another definition is that it is the ability to communicate in two languages with the possibility of greater skills in one language.

There are different theories on the best way to teach a child to use two languages. Most researchers agree that a child who was exposed to languages at an early age, and simultaneously, will naturally learn to use both languages. Children can be expected to go through some periods of mixing the two languages and borrowing vocabulary to express ideas, sometimes within the same sentence. This occurs because vocabulary may exist in one language but not in the other. Or words from one language may convey a message that is not easily translated into the other language. A separation of the two languages will occur gradually.

Children may also experiment with the two languages to create special effects or to express themselves in specific settings. For example, one language may be identified as less formal and use for information about events related to home and family. The other language may be identified as more formal and used for activities outside the home. There may also be. When one language is used more than the other the opposite occurs with the change in the environment. Children may not be equally skilled in both languages. It is common for there to be greater understanding than actual use of one language. Less confusion will occur in children learn to associate the two languages differently, for example if one language is used while speaking to the mother and the other a while speaking to the father.

The Author, Eugene O'Reilly, M.A., C.C.C.-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist, California License SP9363, Certified by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, that for more than 20 years has been assisting persons of all ages from more than 50 different countries with improving their speech, language and voice skills. You can read more about his work and services here.

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