The study found that kids with the most balanced bilingualism were those who heard the most Spanish at home and whose parents had high levels of education in Spanish. And, researchers found, the youngsters’ English skills were not worse than those of English-dominant children.
In addition, their level of English knowledge was independent of their level of Spanish knowledge.
Kids in Spanish-speaking homes who are also exposed to English from infancy tend to become English dominant by age 5, according to the study, which was recently published in the journal Child Development.
Researchers said the study should reassure parents and teachers who worry that speaking Spanish at home will interfere with a youngster’s acquisition of English.
More than 12 million kids in the United States hear a language other than English at home from birth. More than two-thirds hear English as well, and they reach school age with varying levels of proficiency in two languages.
“Previous research has tended to treat bilingual children’s development in each language as a separate outcome, rather than treating dual language skills as the single outcome of dual language exposure,” Hoff said in a university news release. “This approach not only fails to adequately capture the nature of children’s dual language skills, it also leaves unaddressed the question of how the acquisition of one language is related to the acquisition of another.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on children in bilingual families.
Article By HealthDay News