Are you a concerned parent, wondering which language to use when speaking to your children? Maybe you have heard people telling you to stick to only one language because otherwise children will get confused if they learn both English and Maltese at the same time. Rest assured that this is not the case.
There are a number of myths surrounding bilingualism, and these are not limited to our Islands. There are many ways that parents can ensure that their children grow up to be bilingual.
The main thing to consider is to create the need for the child to speak two languages. There are several approaches that can be taken, such as the one parent, one language approach, or the home, one- language, outside home, another language approach. The important thing is to expose children to both languages and encourage them to make use of each of the languages in different scenarios.
Learning two languages does not slow down the learning process of either language, nor will it mean that the child will mix up the two languages. As long as children are exposed to monolingual scenarios, for example the grandmother speaks only Maltese, children will learn to speak that language only as long as the scenario created is a natural one. Another important aspect is that children are exposed to both languages on a daily basis, but again, in a monolingual environment.
Finally, there is the worry that bilingualism will affect negatively the cognitive development of children. However, recent research shows the contrary; bilingual children do better than monolingual children when it comes to certain tasks.
For more myths about bilingualism, check out http://www.francoisgrosjean.ch/myths_en.html .