Have you ever spoken with someone and just couldn’t find the right words to express yourself? You searched and searched your brain for the right word, but just couldn’t think of anything? If you’re multilingual, you probably know what I’m talking about.
Combining languages is when a person uses words from multiple languages to form a sentence. These sentences can often look like this: I ate les fraises today à l’école.
When children mix languages together, parents often think that the child is confused or that they are being overwhelmed with an influx of languages. But that may not entirely be the case.
Here are three reasons why children mix languages:
1. Lack of Vocabulary
Sometimes children borrow words from other languages when they can’t think of a word in the language that they are speaking. This is a sign that they may still be developing vocabulary and need more practice or exposure. The more they know, the less alternating they need to do.
Another reason for language mixing is that our brains try to find the quickest way to communicate. Children will use their brainpower to find all the best words in all the languages they know to get their message across in the best way possible.
So, it is easier for them to say the first word that comes to their minds in their primary language than to take a few extra seconds to think of the appropriate word in their second language.
Some may think of this as laziness while others will say that it’s just a child being efficient.
3. Language Competence
It is very common for languages to lack words or not have their equivalent in another language. When a word or expression doesn’t exist in a language, a child may switch to another in order to better express themselves. This would be considered high language competence.
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