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Will teaching my baby a second language give him greater difficulty in learning the first?

My wife is Korean and we were thinking about sending my 18 month old son to a Korean speaking daycare to help him learn to speak the language. Will this affect his learning of the English language?

Submitted by glennmatt

Dear Glennmatt:


Your son is lucky! Little children--up to about the age of five--have an extraordinary capacity to learn languages, which older children and adults somehow lack. So this is a great age to have your son acquire the Korean language as well as English. It appears that children of this age seem to manage the process of learning multiple languages pretty well, so I would not anticipate problems.


Speaking Korean and English will help your son feel securely planted in both sides of his parental heritage; this is also a good thing for him psychologically. And of course, from a practical perspective, it is an increasingly useful skill to speak more than one language as our globe becomes smaller and smaller.



Elizabeth Berger MD

Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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When one parent speaks with the child in English and the other in the second language, it is my understanding that that allows the child to acquire both languages without conflict--in fact one language may go in a different part of the brain, increasing the brain's development. So learning Korean in a school would be an ideal setting--no confusion.
Submitted by whattodo2