Bilingualism In Language Development

There is a lot of research out there about bilingualism in language development AND research concludes.....that learning more than one language is FANTASTIC. 

However, there can be a lot of confusion out there, even between professionals, about how bilingualism affects language development.

The great news is bilingualism doesn't affect language development in a negative way. It only enhances it! 

Even though bilingual language learners get ½ the exposure for each language, they develop at the same rate as their monolingual peers. Keep reading to find out how!

bilingual language development

Types of Bilingual Language Development

There are many ways to learn more than one language.

Some children speak 2 languages from birth (simultaneous dual language learner) and some learn one first and the second later (sequential dual language learner).

The bilingual language development profile of your child will depend on how and when each language is acquired.

Read on for a brief description of each profile. 

1. Simultaneous Dual Language Learners 

  • These children learn 2 languages from birth
  • One parent or caregiver talks to them in one language and the other parent or caregiver talks to them in another language 
  • One language is spoken in the home and another is spoken in the community AND the child is exposed to both languages regularly before the age of 3.
  • These children develop language similarly to their peers who only speak one language.
  • There is evidence of differences in phonological development. By the age of 5, those differences should disappear. Click here for more information on this: Speech Development

2. Sequential Dual Language Learners

  • A person learns another language after their primary language has been established.
  • One language is spoken in the home and a second language is introduced when the child starts school, after the age of 3.
  • When the second language is introduced, some children may have a "silent period." They may not talk as much and "revert back" to using just 1-2 word phrases in their primary language. This can last for a few months but it is normal and to be expected. It DOES NOT mean that they are behind or losing language skills.
  • Remember, knowing more than one language is an asset


Being bilingual is beneficial for many academic, social, and cognitive reasons. Click here if you want to know more about the benefits of bilingual language development.

However, raising a bilingual child can raise a lot of questions and concerns. Click here for tips on how to raise a bilingual child and best bilingual books.

I am raising a bilingual son from birth. My husband speaks in Spanish and I speak in English. Make sure you subscribe to this site to follow how my little one develops.

I will offer tips as I learn from personal experience - practice what you preach, right?!

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