Teachers often ask advice as to what to say to parents who say to them that they want their children only to speak English. My advice is always that the first language is a great bridge to learning the second language quicker, but also the key to their roots so I was immediately drawn to this recent article
The first language is the foundation for the second language. In addition, it is the language of “love;” the language in which, parents, grandparents, cousins and aunts communicate. If a young child is separated from that circle of communication, a valuable developmental tool is taken away. The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association says, parents should support and build the first language as children learn the second language. Parents should continue to use the first language with their child and feel comfortable doing so.
They further go on to say
First, it is critical for your child to use language often, no matter the language. Some parents have been told that their child should stop using the home language (for example, Spanish), if they are having difficulty learning English. This advice has been given to parents for many years, but it is not correct.
Finally the article gives advice on the type of things that you should look out for incase there is a problem with speech development using Spanish as the second language to give examples.
There are some additional things to be aware of as your child is developing language. Your 1-year-old should be alert to her surroundings, follow simple commands, such as “come to mama or ven a mama,” and try to make babbling sounds like “mama and dada.” Two-year-old children should be putting two words together, such as “no quiero or up now;” however, the sounds in the words may not all be clear. By 3 years of age, your child should be using short phrases and sentences to communicate.
The language of many 3-year-olds is so mature that they sound like miniature adults. If your child is in school and is having difficulty, the first thing to do is to find out if the first language is developing normally. As schoolwork in English becomes more demanding, your child may face more challenges in school and sometimes be discouraged. Good language use is important to all subjects in school. Talk to your child’s teacher or request a speech and language evaluation in both languages.
I hope this helps as often we are unsure of what to say and why. If there are any other benefits please share them with the other readers of the blog via the comments box.
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