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Are you a current or future parent committed to raising bilingual children? You may be part of a multicultural family in which several languages are spoken or bilingualism may be the norm in your culture. In both of these situations, various questions are going to arise — some prompted by strangers, teachers, or pediatricians and others by your own thought processes.
What does normal language development look like in a bilingual child? Is it possible to raise a fluently bilingual child in a country where one of the languages isn't widely spoken? How do you know if your child's language development is delayed or simply normal for bilingual kids? Will your child have difficulty to learn to read? If reading difficulties are already a problem, is that due to bilingualism? What should you do when your child suddenly refuses to speak one of his languages?
Perhaps most of all: is bilingualism harmful to a young child?
These are tough questions. There are no easy answers, and the chances are that parents of bilingual children are going to second guess themselves at some point, usually when a child shows languages delays or authority figures like teachers and doctors question your commitment to raising a child with two languages.
It opens many doors, including the possibility to acquire other languages more easily later in life. If you are able to speak several languages fluently, I believe there should be no question about whether you pass that ability on to your child.
We'll examine types of bilingualism, practical approaches, and the possibility of languages delays in the next three sections of this article. Though I have no formal education on the topic, I grew up with multiple languages myself and am fluent in five now. I have two trilingual children, and we faced our fair share of struggles. Or did we? Deciding how to approach multilingualism was an issue for my partner and me, as parents.
To our kids, multilngualism and multiculturalism were and continue to be completely natural and integral parts of their identities. I wouldn't change anything about the approach we ended up with and are still sticking to. We went with our intuitions and largely chose to avoid thinking about the issue too much. I can only advise parents hoping to raise children with multiple languages to do the same, and to rely on their own intuition.