I remember reading that long ago the American Psychological associations were wary of advising a child to be raised bilingually because it can cause a delay in language learning for the child. As I recall this recommendation was later reconsidered when it was determined that bilingual children were usually able to catch up on language later and often had additional learning/language skills. However my question concerns whether there is an initial language delay to begin with.

As late as 2000 the AAFP released a paper saying:

A bilingual home environment may cause a temporary delay in the onset of both languages. The bilingual child's comprehension of the two languages is normal for a child of the same age, however, and the child usually becomes proficient in both languages before the age of five years.

However, some sources offer the opposite view, that there is no language delay in bilingual children and claim that research backs up their view.

An article on the subject mentioned a 2006 report of the Center for Applied Linguistics said:

"Although many parents believe that bilingualism results in language delay, research suggests that monolingual and bilingual children meet major language developmental milestones at similar times."

Another article quoted Ellen Stubbe Kester, president of Bilinguistics saying:

Research indicates that bilingualism does not cause delays in either speech or language acquisition

Does research say that there is no delay for children raised in a bilingual environment?

  • I believe there is no consensus on this in the research community.
    – gerrit
    Jan 18, 2016 at 10:58
  • From personal experience, it depends whether the parents set up a system (eg language 1 during dinner, language 2 the rest of the time). I have absolutely no backing up info for this.
    – Hadrien
    Jan 23, 2016 at 18:26


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