You Failed Your Kids by Speaking Only English

babyAm I the only one who feels, every time some new study shows that learning a second language is good for kids, that I have already woefully and irreversibly failed my children? (And it happened before they even hit their toddler years!)

One recent study even revealed that babies who live in a household in which only one language is spoken slip behind those who are routinely exposed to two or more languages their first year of life: They are less "open" to and have more difficulty understanding other languages. Maybe, like, forever.


Children raised in multilingual households have also been shown to have bigger vocabularies, better problem-solving and multitasking skills, be "more cognitively flexible," and have superior "executive function" skills.

In other words, if you, like me, speak only English to your kids and have a spouse who speaks only English to your kids, and extended family who speak only English to your kids, and hire a babysitter who speaks only English to your kids, your kids are doomed to live a life of mediocrity before they are even out of diapers.

And don't think playing a few Spanish, French, or Mandarin tapes or DVDs will help you out of this parental bind: Studies also show that kids need face-to-face, in-person exposure to other languages to get the cognitive boost.

Honestly, don't mothers of toddlers have enough to feel guilty about without having to repent for not speaking another language -- or for not having the foresight to marry some dapper fellow from another country (or the funds to hire a Spanish-speaking nanny)?

Do studies like this make you feel bad? Do they make you want to rush out and hire a French tutor for your 4-month-old?


Image via paprutzi/Flickr

Read More >