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Challenges of Raising a Bilingual Toddler

by Maggie McCormick

Speaking more than one language is a benefit, and it is easier to learn a language in the early years, according to the Zero to Three website. If you're raising a bilingual child, then, you should feel proud of yourself and the opportunity you are providing your child. Unfortunately, you'll also face some challenges when raising a bilingual child.

Later Speech

Children in dual-language households might speak a bit later than children in monolingual homes. Usually, though, it still falls within the normal range of speech development -- eight to 15 months-- according to the Hanen Centre, a Canadian charitable organization that promotes childhood education. However, parents might worry that the two languages are confusing the child. You might also face increased worries from family or caregivers about this issue, which can cause you to question your methods. Talk the issue over with his pediatrician.

Cultural Heritage

Parents of bilingual children often come from two cultures themselves. This can present challenges because both parents will want the child to understand where she comes from so she can participate in the normal cultural traditions of their culture. However, the child will feel more connected to the culture she's living in, which can be frustrating for the immigrant parent. As children grow, they might even reject the non-dominant culture in order to fit in with their peers.

Societal Pressure

Parents should expect some resistance from those in their everyday lives, particularly those who don't understand the benefits of bilingualism. This might come from a grandparent who is disappointed she can't understand the child's speech or a stranger in the store tut-tutting at a child's inability to "speak proper English." Take the opportunity to educate the other person on your child's heritage and how he is learning more than one language.

Understanding Language

Unless you are fluent in the language of your partner, your child's language ability in the other language might surpass your own. Young children are hard enough to understand as it is, but when they are speaking in a different language, it becomes more difficult. Additionally, some children may blend the languages -- something that's completely normal, according to Zero to Three. That can can make it even harder to interpret what she's trying to say.

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