We often hear that children are like sponges and can learn any language easily when they are young. This is true, provided that they are exposed to it often in various contexts and that they are motivated to learn another language.
Language development in children exposed to two or more languages
The preschool period is conducive to learning languages because of the adaptability of the brain of toddlers. In addition, at a young age, children more easily distinguish the sounds of the different languages in their environment. This allows them to speak an accent-free language.
However, some parents fear that learning more than one language will cause a language disorder in their child. It is not so. Recent studies show that learning two or more languages does not cause a language disorder, nor does it worsen language difficulties in children who have them.
Thus, a child frequently exposed to two or more languages since birth should say his first words around 1 year old and make word combinations between 18 and 24 months. Similarly, a 5-year-old child fluently exposed to two or more languages will have language development similar to children who speak only one language.
Peculiarities related to learning more than one language
It is quite usual that a child who speaks two or more languages does not have the same strengths in each of them. For example, he can produce better constructed sentences in one language and use more precise and richer vocabulary in the other language. Likewise, he can know the vocabulary of emotions in the language used at home and that of animals in the language used at daycare.
The important thing is to consider all the sentences and words produced in the two languages. This is how we can assess whether the language development of a bilingual child is normal, and not by assessing his language skills in a single language.
Moreover, the language best mastered at a given moment can vary and change over time and depend on the context in which the child uses it as well as on the people to whom it is addressed. Thus, he can use and better master one language rather than another during a certain period of his life (ex: home language at 4 years old) and become better in the second language during another period (ex: in 2nd year of primary school).
Finally, it happens that the child mixes the two languages in a sentence when he does not know the word sought in the other language. This is a normal phenomenon that is also observed in bilingual adults. So you don't have to worry about it.
The most important thing to promote the development of a child's language is to talk to him on a daily basis. For immigrant parents, it is preferable that they address their child in their mother tongue. Thus, they will probably be more likely to talk with their toddler. In addition, the better the child masters the language spoken more at home, the easier it will be for him to learn another language.
If he attends a French daycare, the toddler will quickly realize that the educators and the other children do not understand him when he speaks in his mother tongue. It is therefore possible, at the beginning, that he speaks very little or not at all for a short time.
He will begin by understanding the words, then the sentences he hears. To make himself understood, he will use gestures, then words. Little by little, he will be able to make short sentences, even if they are sometimes poorly constructed.
Language stays in Ireland and learning English
Language stays in Ireland with a host family are the best solution for your child to discover the culture of the country in question while speaking a new language on a daily basis. He will then be directly in contact with a way of life that he did not know or knew very little about before. Orally, significant progress can then be noted from the second week of the stay in general. A very enriching experience from all points of view that your child will remember forever!
HEBE ADVENTURES helps your child find language stays in Ireland
The selection we make to choose Irish host families is based above all on the network we have in Ireland which makes up our range of stays. Our local correspondents, present all year round on site, work intensively to select the families with whom your child will certainly feel comfortable during his language stays in Ireland. Our requirements and our seriousness allow us to offer you very high quality family language stays, where your child will enjoy himself while learning a new language.
At Hebe, our very complete range of language stays for children and teenagers allows you to make your choice throughout the year. You can be sure that your child will benefit from a program perfectly adapted to his requirements as well as to yours. If you want more information, you can go directly to our website to compare our language courses in Ireland.
In addition, with HEBE Adventures, your child's language exchange in order to be bilingual in English can be normal or intensive, at the pace you want. On the other hand, our English-speaking host families provide the children with a package of services, accommodation and meals, excursions and social activities as well as authentic cultural immersion in their everyday life.
So you can fully trust HEBE Adventures to find the perfect English pen pal for your child's language exchange in Ireland, so you can both have a great holiday and have an English accent at the same time.