bilingual myths

8 Bilingual Myths That Are Limiting You and Your Kids

And Bilingualism is something that will give your child a HUGE advantage in life.

Parents have every right to feel a little apprehensive about the project.

Fortunately, some of the most common concerns about bilingual education are outdated or just plain wrong — errors of old educational beliefs and incomplete data from years gone by. A lot of very popular notions about bilingualism are simply untrue.

If you’ve decided to raise your child speaking more than one language, it’s a safe bet that you’ll hear at least one of these criticisms at some point during the process:

1st Myth – Bilingualism Is Rare

The majority of the world is bilingual.

Roughly 130 countries out of 195 speak 2 or more languages .

Statistics on labada luqadood kala duwanaan karaan si weyn loo, inta badan ku xiran tahay sida sahan kasta oo aad doorato, si ay u qeexaan "laba luqadood." Laakiin xitaa qiyaasaha muxaafidka ah oo ku saabsan saaray 20% qoysaska ee Maraykanka sida laba luqadood, iyo Maraykanka ayaa heerka si caddaalad ah u hooseeya ee luqadaha badan by heerarka caalamiga ah. Waxaa jira wadamada ay shiidaa 100% dadweynaha baxdaa hadlayay in ka badan hal luqad.

Dabcan, lambarada aanay khasab ahayn damaanad ah in ilmahaagu (ama hababka waalidnimada aad) won’t seem “weird.” The myth of bilingualism as an oddity comes from the idea that a particular language (usually English) is inherently more useful than others, and that training a child in a second language is forcing a useless skill upon them.

But rates of multilingualism are increasing globally, not decreasing. Even if you don’t personally know any other parents raising a child bilingually, you can rest assured that it’s a common approach — and becoming more so.

2nd Myth – Children Need to be Super Smart to Grow Up Bilingual

ANY child can be bilingual.


If this myth were true it’d be hard to convince anyone to start bilingual education early, since there’s not a lot of ways to tell if a pre-verbal infant is “linguistically gifted” or not.

You don’t need to worry about whether or not your child is “smart enough” to learn two languages at once. He or she is – the real question is, are you ready to implement the change in your lifestyle to make it happen?

The fact of the matter is that children are born prepared to learn languages. Pre-verbal infants begin reacting to different languages in different ways as early as four days after birth.

No special gift is needed — a young brain is more of an advantage in learning languages than any natural aptitude.

Some individuals will certainly show greater ease with learning new languages later in life. It’s a talent just like any other. But it takes time for those mental aptitudes to develop and manifest, and they don’t impact early childhood bilingual education.

Exposure to and stimulation in multiple languages is all a young brain needs to begin learning multiple languages at once.

Myth 3 – Learning Two Languages Will Confuse a Child and Prevent Either One from Being Learned Properly

This is a myth that springs from something we all do: search for a good alternative when we aren’t quite sure what the right word for something is.


A monolingual child who can’t come up with the word for something he or she wants may substitute pointing, made-up portmanteaus (combinations of existing words), or longer descriptions. Bilingual children have another source for alternatives in their second language.

It’s very common for bilingual children to speak phrases or sentences in one language, but use occasional words from their other language.

This isn’t a problem of confusion or an inability to tell the languages apart. As we stated earlier, children can distinguish different languages from the very first days of infancy.

The mixing is just a sign of the bilingual child using a second communication tool when one isn’t able to express his or her needs. Children, whether they speak two languages or one, are mostly concerned with making their needs clear. If they have two languages, they’ll use both to do that.

There’s no evidence right now that being raised bilingual harms development in a child’s primary language. Skills that develop slightly differently from a bilingual child’s peers’ are a sign of an adaptive mind working through communication problems, not a delayed education.

Myth 4 – Bilingualism Leads to Language Delay

A more specific concern related to the last point, there is a belief that children exposed to multiple languages from birth wait longer to become functionally verbal at all.

Most of this comes from the general perception of verbal speech as an early benchmark of a child’s education. Waalidiinta noqon welwelsan haddii ay u muuqataa in ilmahaagu ka danbayso kale ee isgaarsiinta lagu hadlo, in ilmuhu waa laba luqadood ama ma.

xaqiiqadu waxa ay tahay in dib u dhac af Waa caadi in carruurta oo dhan. Waa mid ka mid ah dib u dhac koritaan ugu badan ee ilmanimada hore, dhab ahaan. Sababta oo ah waxa uu noqon karaa mid adag si ay u sharxaan, dad badan oo u muuqdaan in ay ku boodaan garawsannay in hadalka ilmaha laba luqadood ee waa raagay, maxaa yeelay, isagu ama iyadu baranayo laba luuqadood, xitaa ay ka maqan yihiin caddaymo kasta si ay u taageeraan xiriir.

There’s no reason to break off bilingual education because a child seems to be slow in developing spoken communication. Children’s brains acquire different skills at different times, and the differences can be striking — as much as a year’s gap between one child’s progress and another’s, with no effect on either child’s education later in life.

Stopping a bilingual education once it’s in progress may even be harmful or confusing for the child — it removes half of his or her small vocabulary in a single stroke, with no explanation.


Myth 5 – Children Who Mix Languages Early in Life Will Continue to Do So

It’s always important to remember that language isn’t an abstract, academic concept to children. It’s how they express their wants and needs.


In a bilingual household, the easiest way for them to get what they want may well be to mix their languages in the middle of sentences. Parents often worry that their child will do the same at school, and learn more slowly as a result.

But the child will learn to communicate effectively at school too. If teachers and peers only speak English, the child will very rapidly learn to ask for things in English, without any of the blending he or she may do at home.

Studies show that by the age of five, bilingual children who need to speak a single language in their communities have learned to do so without using words from their second language. When faced with a problem that requires a word they don’t know, they do the same thing as monolingual children: look for an explanation that uses the words they do know in that language.

Myth 6 – Bilingual Education Needs to Happen from Infancy. After Three Years, a Second Language is Too Hard to Learn

Infants have the definite advantage in learning two languages at once. The first year of life is when our brains are working the hardest on learning to understand how language works. A child trained in two languages during that time will have a more inherent understanding of the relationship and differences between than someone who starts later in life.

None of that means that bilingual education can’t start later. Dhab ahaan, it’s done exactly that way in many countries — children are raised speaking their native language at home, but begin education in English as early as kindergarten. By that age, children understand that a second language can be learned as a skill, halkii ay ka oo qayb ka ah soo jireenka ah ee ay deegaanka. Waxa ka yar si dabiici ah u yimaado, laakiin kaasaa run ah wax ilmahaagu ku barto dugsiga.

Ku darista aragnimo laba luqadood guriga kordhin doonaa soo-gaadhista ee ilmahaaga oo kaliya in ay luqadda labaad iyo kuwa ku teedsan caawin, xitaa haddii habka bilaabmaa goor dambe oo noloshooda.

Myth 7 – Parents Must Be Fluent in a Language to Raise Their Child Speaking It

Laba waalid oo luqo keliya la yaabi karaan haddii ay xitaa macquul ah in kor loo qaado ilmaha ay laba luqadood. Haddii ay kaliya ku hadli isu luqad la wadaago hal, halkaas oo ilmuhu ka heli doontaa soo-gaadhista loo baahan yahay si loo horumariyo labaad a?


Sida ugu badan ee khuraafaadka halkan daboolay, waxaad qaadan kartaa raaxo on this mid ka mid by xusuusto - dad badan ku sameeyey. Qoysas badan oo waddanka u soo guurey yimaadaan carruurta yaryar iyo ma mid ka mid ah oo reerka u hadlayay in ka badan hadal ama labo ka mid ah luuqada adag cusub. Ilmuhu wuxuu si dhaqso ah bilingually baran doontaa, xataa haddii waalidku halgan si ay isu bartaan luqad cusub.

Parents who don’t have the advantage of being surrounded by a second language can still raise a bilingual child. It usually means learning some of the language yourself, but it also requires outside stimulation from people who speak the second language fluently (nannies/immersion school/Saturday schools/etc.).

Movies, buugaag, and especially visits to places where people speak the second language will also help a child’s bilingual development move along even as the parents struggle to acquire a bit of the second language themselves.

Myth 8 – Children Absorb Languages Naturally. All You Have to Do Is Speak to Them

This idea is partially correct. Children do absorb languages naturally by listening to them. But if all they do is listen, their fluency will quickly become “passive.


“They may be able to understand the spoken language, but their ability to speak it themselves or to comprehend written materials will be severely curtailed. This tends to be a common developmental progress in households where older relatives speak one language but the child’s interactions are all done in the dominant local language.

True fluency in multiple languages requires both exposure and use. Children have to be encouraged to use their second language to get the things they want, or they will develop an instinctive understanding that their primary language is sufficient on its own.

waalidiinta, this means actively requiring the use of both languages. Exposure in more forms that just one parent’s speech is also a great boost to bilingual learning. If children can be given games, buugaag, and other forms of entertainment that require the use of their secondary language, they are more likely to seek true fluency rather than passive understanding in it.