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Milestones: Two tongues are better than one

If your family is like many U.S. households today, two languages are spoken in your home. As a parent, you may wonder whether teaching your child two tongues is a good idea. Don’t worry—it is! Being bilingual can help your child focus and explore other cultures. What’s more, young children pick up new languages faster than teenagers or adults who try to learn them for the first time. Your child can learn both languages at the same time, usually speaking his or her first words by age 1.

Your child will likely encounter obstacles like switching words or grammar rules between languages, but this is normal. To help your child learn two languages, try:

  • Giving your child opportunities to hear both languages every day. Read a favorite book, sing a familiar tune together or visit grandma.
  • Being patient with mistakes. When a second language is introduced, some children may talk less for a few months.
  • Using two languages from the start. The more your child uses a language, the faster he or she will pick it up.