On this week’s Parenting segment, one couple is unsure whether raising their daughter bilingual is the best idea.
“My daughter is struggling with being a bilingual child,” they told Moncrieff.
“My husband is Polish and I’m Irish," the wife said. "She is three years old and regularly mixes both English and Polish in the same sentence.
“I am worried this is going to stifle her language progress.”
The parents aren’t sure if they should stick to teaching their daughter one language or let her be in touch with both sides of her cultural heritage.
“This was something that my wife and I discussed a number of times when she was pregnant, and we feel that it’s really important to us,” the husband said.
Learning and developing
Clinical psychologist Dr Anne Keogh said this is an issue for "so many houses all over Ireland”.
“What you have there is a three-year-old who's really learning and developing her language skills in general in life, who's wonderfully being exposed to both English and Polish,” she said.
Dr Keogh said it is inevitable that, as the child learns, each language will influence each other's development.
“If I was for those parents, I'd be thinking that if she's not stressed by anything and she's getting on okay, in that context, that's brilliant,” she said.
“Let her at it – let her switch between, let her use both, let her develop her in her skills in both.”
'It doesn't have to be perfect'
It’s natural the daughter is still switching between languages as she makes sense of both Polish and English.
“It doesn't have to be perfect English in the perfect English context or perfect Polish in a perfect Polish context,” she said.
“They should be able to switch between.”
The parents should simply make sure the daughter is learning both languages equally and help her not get stressed.
“For example, if you had a child who had only one language at home, and a totally different language in the rest of their life, they might feel behind others in developing that language,” Dr Keogh said.
“But overall, it's wonderful that she'd be able to talk to the family in Poland.”
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