How can a child become bilingual?
There are two ways in which children can become bilinguals. One of the ways is called simultaneous bilingualism. A child who's a simultaneous bilingual is learning and developing two languages at the same time. For example, an infant that's born in a family where two languages are spoken would become bilingual simultaneously. The mom might speak Mandarin and the dad might speak Spanish. The child is hearing and developing both Mandarin and Spanish at the same time, becoming bilingual simultaneously with these two languages.
Another way in which children can become bilingual is called sequential. Sequential bilingualism is where you first develop a base structure of one language and at some point, you add on another language in sequence. Then maybe later in development, you add on another language. It goes in sequence, first language, second language, then third language.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, An Introduction to Integrated Dual Language Learners (Birth to Five), in partnership with Region 9 Head Start Association, by Erika Flores, MEd.