3. What are the benefits and potential drawbacks of bilingual environments for children?
As I mentioned earlier, the benefits are numerous and varied. As far as negative aspects go, most of the perceived drawbacks are misconceptions that are not backed by research. However, there are some potential issues that are worth noting.
One common concern for parents is that there will be a delay in their child’s speaking development. Although there is no research to validate this, many parents I’ve spoken to think there is a slight delay of three to six months but that there are no long-term shortcomings. Children eventually catch up with their monolingual peers.
Another concern some parents share is that they’re worried their child will mix up the two languages. There is potential for this to happen but it will often correct itself by the age of five or six. Monolingual children mix up and misuse words in their own language in the early stages as well, it’s a natural part of language acquisition.
The only true potential drawback I can see is that raising a bilingual child takes more commitment and hard work for the parents. Raising a bilingual child is a long-term project that takes a lot of strategising, effort and patience. However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.