Pin It
Friday, May 24th, 2013

My child has a language delay. Should she learn another language?

By
Can you be bilingual with a a language delay? via shutterstock

Dear Dr. Gupta,

 

I have always loved learning languages. However, my four-year-old daughter (our only child) has an expressive language delay and tested in the first percentile on a state evaluation. She has been getting speech therapy for the past year and a half, but she is still very far behind other kids her age in that a lot of what she says remains unintelligible. (Her hearing and intelligence are normal.)

 

Next year she will be starting kindergarten. Should we go with an elementary school that offers a foreign language to all children? Or should we skip that and wait until she is older, given that she is having so much trouble with her first language?

 

Thanks!

Eve

 

Dear Eve,

 

First of all, I don’t think you should base your choice of school on whether they offer a foreign language to all children or not. It doesn’t matter whether she starts to learn a foreign language at 5, 8, 12 or whatever.

 

What matters most is that you choose a school where she will be happy and be able to progress at her own speed, and where staff and children will be understanding of the language delay. She will continue to need help and support with speech and with literacy. It seems to me that in those countries with which I am familiar, some schools do that better than others.

 

If you do decide that the best school for her is one that offers a foreign language to everyone then she should do what the other children do and have that experience. She may find it hard, but the other children will also be finding it hard. Everyone will be struggling in the new language. Working on a new language is a good way of working with language, and could support what the speech-language therapist does with her. Expressive language delay is a problem with language as a whole, not a problem with English specifically, so all work on language will be beneficial.

 

If you think that the best school for your daughter—all things considered—is the one that teaches a foreign language to all children, then do it.

 

Dr. Gupta

© 2013, Anthea Fraser Gupta. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Are Germans Really Rude?

This German dad shares his thoughts

An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline

Does Islam's reputation for severity and harshness apply to how Muslims raise children?

How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law

A whole year of arguing in the making

Ten Reasons Parents Should Read Multicultural Books to Kids

Why it's critical all parents read books that reflect diversity

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Anthea Fraser Gupta is a sociolinguist with an interest in how children learn to talk. She was born into a monolingual environment in Middlesbrough, England, but enjoyed learning about languages from an early age. She gained a B.A. in English Linguistic Studies and Archaeology at the University of Newcastle, then went on to do an M.A. in Linguistics. She left Newcastle in 1975 to work in Singapore, where she encountered a society in which multilingualism is usual and expected. In Singapore nearly all children come to nursery school already able to speak 2 or 3 languages. While lecturing in the linguistics of English at the National University of Singapore, she did a doctoral degree at the University of York, looking at the language acquisition over two years of four Singaporean children who were growing up with four languages. In Singapore, she also married a man from a multilingual family from India. She returned to England in 1996 to the School of English at the University of Leeds, where she taught courses on both English language and bilingualism until her retirement in 2010. Anthea has had experience in a range of multilingual and multicultural societies and families. She has published books and articles on English, especially the language use of children in Singapore, and has also produced a novel for children set in Singapore. She is deeply interested in child development and believes that the most important thing in raising a child is to provide love and stimulation, regardless of what language or languages are learned.

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Unfortunately, the school and community are no longer there. The farm is being sold and there are tentative plans for a new iteration to be set up in Costa Ric...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
HI! I love your website! Just read your review of books that teach about culture and food! I can't wait to try some of the recipes you've share...
From Armenian Recipe: Apricot Tart
Please, refrain from using "western /western society" for anglosaxon countries. Western can be Mexico and Spain as well, anything on the west side of the world is western ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
We've tried to make use of, but It doesn't works by any mean...
From African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children
I'm back. Sorry, I stopped caring for this magazine for a while and forgot to discuss the meat of the matter. This article, as well as the linked article from 2011, fails to discuss cultural norms ...
From What Confused Me Most about Brits
Fascinating. I have been to Germany and met this guy who was soo rude! This article explains everything!! Since all Germans are so terribly rude it should come as no surprise that I should have met ...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@ Josep. How could you possibly comment on how Germans treat people if you have never even been there? A three-day stay in Berlin and a one day stop-over in Frankfurt was enough for me to see the ut...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I am trying to find a Sikh triangular Nishan Sahib flag and haven't found one. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag
I have tried to buy a Sikh triagular Nishan Sahib flag and had no luck. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag

More I Need Help! Ask A Linguist