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FOR RELEASE: April 24, 2001
Health Officials Encourage Language Development for Bilingual Children
Since 1927, May has been designated Better Hearing and Speech Month, a time to raise public awareness of speech and language disorders that affect 14 million Americans. This year, health professionals at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) are taking this opportunity to increase awareness of individuals in Oklahoma who speak multiple languages and to answer questions about how speaking more than one language affects a child's language development.
Some commonly asked questions about bilingualism are:
What is Bilingualism?
How Do I Teach My Child to Be Bilingual?
What Can I Expect as My Child Learns Two Languages?
Children may experiment with the two languages to create special effects or to express themselves in specific settings. For example, one language may be identified as less formal and used for information about events related to home and family. The other language may be identified as more formal and used for activities outside the home.
Children may not be equally skilled in both languages. It is common to have greater understanding than actual use of one language. Less confusion will occur if children learn to associate the two languages differently, for example, if one language is used while speaking to the mother and the other while speaking to the father.
Will Using Two Languages Cause Speech-Language Problems?
Parents who are concerned about their child's speech-language development should contact a speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The discovery that a child has some delays in both languages does not necessarily indicate a need for professional services. These delays may be characteristic of a two-language learner.
Professionals at your local county health department can assist you in obtaining information about your child's language development, and provide you with ideas to encourage optimal language development with your child. For more information contact the OSDH Speech Pathology, Child Guidance Service at (405) 271-4477.
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