No need for two tongues

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am


Two Hong Kong academics have this to tell parents: don't teach your toddlers two languages at once - especially if you can't speak both.

Lily Chan, a psychologist at Chinese University, said children could start learning a second language even when they are eight. So local parents do not need to force young children to learn English along with their mother tongue.

Chan cited new research that indicates toddlers may start to speak later if they are expected to be bilingual from the start.

She stressed the importance of the quality of parent-child relationships. 'What is more important [than what language is used] is whether children actually understand [you],' she said.

Rui Yang, assistant dean at the University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Education, said children can become fluent in several languages later on if they are properly schooled.