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How Can a Child Become Bilingual?

Erika Flores, BS, MEd

May 25, 2020

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Question

How can a child become bilingual?

Answer

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.


erika flores

Erika Flores, BS, MEd

Erika Flores is the founder of ChildrenFlow, an organization whose mission is to empower young children’s development through evidence-based professional development to teachers, coaches, trainers, and administrators. She has over 20 years of experience in the early education field in various capacities and in different countries. Erika has brought her expertise to large statewide strategy and implementation programs, school districts, Head Start programs, non-profit organizations and to the private sector. Before founding ChildrenFlow, Erika worked at Teachstone as a Client Relations Director, at the University of Virginia as a Researcher, and at DePaul University as faculty teaching courses to graduate and undergraduate students. Erika has also taught young children in Mexico and the US. Erika earned her MEd from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her BS in Psychology from the Universidad de Monterrey.


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