There is a belief that being bilingual can only be achieved if the child begins to speak two languages simultaneously, but according to Jill Stribling, she disagrees: “It is a myth that you cannot be bilingual after a certain age,” he says. Although the ideal is to start in parallel, you can be bilingual by learning later.
“68% of the population is bilingual,” says Jill. “In the countries of northern Europe, or in Holland and Belgium, to give some examples, their inhabitants simultaneously handle two languages. Countries like Spain or the United States are irregular, those who are behind in the knowledge of other languages. “
Any child can be bilingual, bilingual people not only have the advantage of knowing how to speak in another language, with the benefits that this will bring to a professional level, but it also conditions psychologically: bilingual children are more creative, they develop the brain differently and they have higher self-esteem.
A safe bet is total immersion in the language. English courses in which Spanish is not spoken make it easier for children to get used to hearing another language, its phonetics and expressions and to associate it with people who always speak to it in that language. Children should not be given any reluctance to speak English. It is totally normal for them to seek to communicate in the language with which they feel most comfortable. Little by little they will be taking risks because, with this type of “by immersion” lessons, they will have to communicate in that language to participate in the activities.
On the other hand, it takes time for the brain to launch itself into speaking another language. It is like adding, it is impossible for a child to learn to add without first knowing the numbers. Trying to make them speak English on the first day of class is like pretending that they make three-digit sums when they learn the first numbers.
It is important for parents to understand that learning a language takes time. In fact, the first 6 months to a year are what is called “the period of silence”, a necessary time during which the child is unable to speak English, but her brain is working. One day, suddenly, they will start to build sentences correctly.