A Tale of Two Tongues


As a native English speaker living in Ecuador with a son who has been here since he was 18 months. I wanted to share a story about language development based on a thread I saw online about children and speech acquisition.

We all know that the earlier you start, the easier it is.

There are scientific studies that point to the development of our auditory canals that indicate a child can speak accent free before a certain age. The one that cements how we hear and are able to form sounds. Giving my paltry Spanish a Midwest sort of twang.

And stories from people we meet everyday. Our doctor who learned English when he was 7, but was able pick it right back up in adulthood. As if it had been waiting the whole time for a chance to prove it was still there.

So here’s my story.

Last fall we spent three weeks in the United States. Upon our return, his teachers all remarked how his language skills had improved. Now prattling off full sentences without stop all day long. Expression upon expression.

We suspect that fully dedicating himself to one language for an extended period of time allowed him to make grammatical connections that he could parlay to his Spanish vocabulary.

Pretty dope.

So for those that worry their kids might not be progressing as far on the surface when faced with multiple languages in their life. I say, don’t worry. Those neural pathways are synthesizing to their worlds in ways we can’t even imagine. I’ve seen it happen. As invisible as air like most of the learning that transpires between you and your child. Ready to show itself in the most surprising of moments. Never in the way we expect it.

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