Pros and Cons of Raising Bilingual Children

What advantages does a bilingual environment offer children? What disadvantages arise from raising children in a bilingual environment?

The Advantages:

  • Children raised in more than one language are able to master both languages just as well as a child raised in one language.
  • Children in multilingual environments are possessed with a greater feel for languages and at the same time, understand that language is a tool for the purpose of communication.
  • Children raised bilingually have greater facility in acquiring foreign language fluency at a later time.
  • Children who enjoy a multilingual education can transfer knowledge of one language to another. This “knowledge transfer” allows for greater comprehension with grammatical structures  and can also serve enhance vocabulary.
  • Children raised in more than one language have added advantages in certain careers having an international focus.
  • Children in multilingual environments have a better feel for the cultural differences and peculiarities of the world.

The Disadvantages:

  • Children raised bilingually run the risk of not mastering either language, and subsequently having difficulties in successful completion of a formal education.
  • Children enjoying a bilingual environment run the risk of being isolated by the host society or of being teased by their peers when speaking in the foreign language. This teasing can have a detrimental effect on the self-esteem of the child.
  • Speech impediments in children, whether it is of a physical nature or difficulties in the pronunciation of the language becomes more difficult to remedy in bilingual children as each language has to be addressed individually.

Tip: The success or failure of these advantages and disadvantages can be traced to the family. The more activities the family does together and the more they communicate, the greater chance for the advantages to take hold. This sows the seeds for greater success in mastering the language.

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Further in Raising Bilingual Children: The One Parent One Language Rule

Back to Raising Bilingual Children: Typical Prejudices