Multilingualism and delayed speech

Simona Montanari, PhD Professor, explains how exposing a child to multiple languages does not cause them to start speaking any later
Multilingualism and Delayed Speech - Brain Development In Children
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Multilingualism and delayed speech

There is no research that shows that children who are exposed to multiple languages will start to speak later. In fact, research shows that for bilinguals or trilinguals, critical language milestones are pretty much achieved at the same time as for monolingual children. All children will babble at six months of age. They might produce their first words around one year or their first combination of words around 18 months. There are individual variations. Some monolingual children might not speak much until two years of age. This is also true for bilingual and trilingual children. Sometimes if a trilingual child is not speaking until late, the culprit is her trilingualism when it might just be individual variation. There is, however, an issue of input. If a child is hearing only one language most of the time, and one or two languages on 5 percent of the day; this will not be efficient to produce bilingualism or trilingualism. Meaning, the child will not speak those two or three languages. Most likely, the child will be a passive bilingual or trilingual, which means they will only speak one language, but understand the others.

Simona Montanari, PhD Professor, explains how exposing a child to multiple languages does not cause them to start speaking any later


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Simona Montanari, PhD


Simona Montanari is Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on language development and second language acquisition in childhood. She received a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Southern California specializing in language development in monolingual and multilingual children. Dr. Montanari has published her research in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and she is regularly invited to present on early bilingualism and trilingualism locally and internationally. Dr. Montanari has also been involved in the creation and implementation of an Italian-English dual language program in the Glendale Unified School District, for which she continues to work as a consultant. Dr. Montanari has two trilingual and tri-literate daughters, six and seven years of age.

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