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Why it’s okay for bilingual children to mix languages

Thursday, July 12, 2018  
Posted by: Dana Walker
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Few would consider mastering more than one language a bad idea. In fact, research points to

 

a number of cognitive, economic and academic advantages in being bilingual.

Parents who speak different languages understand the family home is an important setting to learn both, and seek various ways to help their children thrive bilingually. One of the best-known approaches is the “one-parent-one-language” strategy (OPOL). Each parent uses one language when communicating with their child, so their offspring learn both languages simultaneously.

OPOL emphasises consistency – sticking to one language each – as key to its approach. But this creates the myth that mixing languages should always be avoided. My recent study, part of a new wave of multilingualism studies, would suggest this received wisdom is just that: a myth.

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