Learning a second language can happen at any age. The earlier children are exposed to a second or third language, the quicker they will learn to speak it! It is important that children learn from people who speak each language well. Learning one language well is better than learning two languages poorly. To help children learn and understand a new language, use gestures like pointing or touching the item to show them what you are talking about.
Learning 2 or more languages will not cause a speech delay. In fact, research shows that children worldwide who are learning two languages or more learn to speak at the same rate as children learning only one. It is normal for children not to speak in the new language for a period of 6-7 months until they understand the language, build their vocabulary and feel confident to use the new language to express themselves. The more children hear and practice their new language, the faster they will speak it. Learning a new language will not affect children’s language skills in their first language.
If you are concerned about a child’s communication in their first language, consider the following options:
- Call Ottawa Public Health 613-580-6744 or 613-PARENTS
- Complete the First Words Communication Checkup online screening tool
- Review the communication milestones. Communication milestones are available in different languages here.
- Review the LookSee Checklist
If you still have concerns:
- Call the CHEO Access Team at 613-737-2757 to add your child’s name on the waiting list for a Speech and Language assessment or developmental assessment. You do not need a referral from a Health Professional.
- Children from birth to eligibility for senior kindergarten are eligible.
- Call the First Words Renfrew County Intake Office at 613-732-7007, ext. 5905 or 1-888-421-2222 to add your child’s name on the waiting list for a Speech and Language assessment. You do not need a referral from a Health Professional.
- For concerns related to other areas of your child’s development, call the CHEO Access Team at 613-737-2757 to refer your child for a developmental assessment.
Cultural interpreters are available by request for First Words services (screening/assessment/therapy).