Here’s some positive advice from parents of bilingual toddlers.
Source: The Baby Center
My 2yr old is not talking yet? Is it because we speak two languages?
A: My daughter, like many other people who have posted, is raised in a bilingual environment. My own education (MA in Applied Linguistics) has encouraged me to do so. All of the literature and research that I’ve read clearly indicates substantial advantages to early exposure to multiple languages. In terms of vocabulary, you will find that children frequently have smaller vocabularies in each language, but a larger total vocabulary as there may be words they know in one language but not the other. The onset of speech itself may be delayed if the child is having trouble telling the languages apart. What I mean is that its preferable to have each of the parents use only one of the languages to prevent confusion. As long as the doctor has not highlighted any medical conditions or there are no other developmental delays, your child may just be a late bloomer. Encourage as much communication as you can, but there’s no need to be overly concerned at this stage.
A: Oftentimes kids do talk a bit later when learning 2 languages. Great point to remember is that if they seem to be comprehending, that is more important than exactly what they’re expressing (or how many words, etc) right now. Are they having frustration? If not, they are probably just “soaking in” language all the time — and that takes work/energy! So, talking on top of all that energy is just too much sometimes. I also agree that narrating *everything* you do throughout the day (as well as playing) is the *best* way to build language skills. It’s also fun and bonding for your LO. Have fun!
A: I do not believe the two languages are responsible for the delay in talking. I wouldn’t worry, but just ask your doctor about it. All children develop at different rates, and in my experience this seems to apply to children in multilingual households, as well. I assumed, when my husband and I decided to teach our son 2 languages, that it would take him longer to sort out the languages and he would end up speaking later than average. That is what I had heard. It wasn’t the case with him, though, so I think it just depends on the child. (In my son’s case, he started speaking in clearly understandable words at 15 months. And at now, at 2 years is speaking clearly understandable sentences in English with articles and prepositions, and very short phrases in French.) Again, just ask your doctor. He/she knows better and will tell you if there is cause for concern.
A: Don’t worry too much about it. Remember that understanding the words is equally important. Your toddler may understand a lot more than you think and he may not be ready to pronounce them yet. We’re in a trilingual household too and my 13 months old has about 80 words! and I am not kidding, he talks all the time and we communicate very well. Of course the pronunciation is not perfect. but for me, as long as I understand his word, it’s counted as a word. For example he says “mah mah” for “fromage = cheese” so he has kept one syllable from one of the languages he is talked to. Who cares, he can ask me for cheese and that is considered a word. So don’t underestimate every little sound they make. A lot of them are imitations of words, intonations. Talk to him as much as you can, listen to him. I tell my son about everything I do, every time I change his diaper I tell him what I am doing. I’ve done this since day one. I repeat the words he mispronounces. Just talk and talk.
A: Speaking two languages is excellent for your little one. I wish my son were exposed to more than one language at this young age… this is THE best time to introduce languages to children. That said, is your child saying any words? My friend’s two-year old does not talk, but he does say a few words. He babbles a lot. It sounds like he’s speaking his very own language. Like everyone else says, I don’t think there is anything to worry about. Your LO is a sponge, right now. But as with anything, if you are concerned, ask your pediatrician. They know signs to look for concerning developmental delay, if there is a problem. Good for you, using both languages around your LO. I would suggest continuing to do so.