Parents Want To Know: Can Learning Two Languages Cause Speech Delays?

I recently spoke to a wonderful group of mothers at a Big City Mom's lunch on the upper east side in New York. I have been speaking to moms groups in cities across the country, and one of the questions that has come up more than once is whether learning a second language causes speech delays.

Speaking to Metro Moms in Dallas, TX

As a mom, I am very sensitive to this issue - I know how eager I was for Emmett to speak once he began using a few words at age 18 months, and understand why mothers would be concerned about doing anything to delay speech in their children. There is widespread scientific research that proves that learning and/or exposing your child to a second language at an early age will not cause your child to speak English later or less well; that on the contrary, it is a boon. Yet because people used to think that there could be negative side effects to learning two languages as once, some people continue to think so. The fact is that babies, toddlers and preschoolers are actually able to learn up to three languages at once without confusion. Early foreign language exposure enhances a child’s primary language development, and his or her brain power. Experts have dismissed the idea that bilingualism can be confusing for a young child. “This idea was dramatically reversed in a landmark study by Elizabeth Peal and Wallace Lambert at McGill University in Montreal that showed a general superiority of bilinguals over monolinguals in a wide range of intelligence tests and aspects of school achievement” (Dr. Ellen Bialystok, Professor of Psychology at York University, Canada). Dr. Bialystok has even done studies that show that young children who speak a second language have a cognitive edge over monolingual children.

So go ahead and teach your little one "j'ai soif" or "tengo hambre" with confidence! You will be helping them to achieve a better accent and fluency later on and enhance their social and verbal skills.
To read more about the scientific studies supporting learning two languages go to