First of all, what does it mean to be billingual? - According to thefreedictionary, this is the definiton:
Using or able to use two languages, especially with equal or nearly equal fluency.
As I am one of those children who grew up bilingual (German and Tunisian-Arabic), I decided to share my experience with those who are interested, just curious about it or even want to raise their own children bilingual.
1. It is easy to learn another language from birth. After age 10, learning new words becomes progressively harder. The older you get, the more you use your native language and the more it comes to dominate your linguistic map.
2. Children who can speak more than one language have a learning advantage. This is what the researchers from the National University of Signapore found out:
The babies who were growing up in a bilingual environment became bored with their first picture more quickly, and showed a greater interest in the image of the unfamiliar soft toy. [...] One explanation for these findings could be that bilingual children simply require greater information processing skills in order to rise to the challenges they face.
3. This advantage may not apply to everyone but it was definitely one of the reasons why I am glad that I grew up bilingual. Being able to communicate with relatives who only speak ONE of your native languages. I have a strong bond with my grandparents and cousins from Tunisia. That wouldn't be possible if I couldn't speak Tunisian-Arabic. It is mostly impossible to build a relationship based on trust without communication.
4. Learning a 3rd/4th/.. language. Learning two languages early in life makes it easier to acquire more later on. So if you want your child to converse in many languages in his adult life, start with teaching him second language now.
1. Mixing up languages. Mixing words is very common in children learning more than one language at a time. But this is a temporary phenomenon. At the age of four or five it has mostly disappeared. When I couldn't think of a word in Tunisian-Arabic, I just 'borrowed' it from German until I learnt the word in both languages.
2. Speaking later. Some children raised bilingual take a little longer to start talking than those raised in monolingual households. We are talking about a 3-6 month speech delay. However it is not a general rule and it only makes sense since they are actually learning twice as many words.
To sum up, there are are a lot of adavantages which come with being bilingual. The advantages far outweigh the minor potential risks.
Question to YOU: Were you raised bilingual? Do you wish you were? Are you planning on raising your children bilingual?
I hope you enjoyed reading this Take! :)
I am sure some people will be able to relate to this. :D
Trying to tell really funny jokes from one language and having them fall flat because the humor gets lost in translation.
“It’s really funny, I swear it is! No, like, seriously! I promise!”