Hello Dr Joe.
I am raising my daughter to be bilingual in French and English. She is 22 months now and is starting to understand more English but because I am her primary carer and I only speak French with her, most of what she understands and speaks is in French. She is due to start pre-kindy as soon as she turns 3 in a year’s time and I’m worried that she still won’t be able to speak English.
Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS, General Practitioner and Editorial Advisory Board Member of the Virtual Medical Centre and Parenthub responds:
Your question is more educational than medical but a good one nonetheless. The best time for children to learn languages is when they are young. There is absolutely NO harm in raising children to be bilingual. In fact, it is an asset and since young children are curious and love to learn, it is a great thing to offer them. Doing so stimulates their brains. At pre-kindy, your 3 year old will pick up English very quickly. By starting to talk to her in both English as well as French from a young age, you start the bilingual process. And no, you will not confuse her. However you can expect that she may speak a mixture of words from both languages in the early stages.
Those who criticise you are wrong.
It is a good idea to speak sometimes in English and sometimes in French so that she learns words in both languages “simultaneously.” That way she begins to have two words that describe each object, colour, etc.
Good luck and keep it up.