Princess Charlotte is “already bilingual” thanks to her Spanish nanny, sources have claimed.
The Duchess of Cambridge revealed back in May 2017 that Maria Teresa Turrion, the family’s nanny, had been teaching the kids Spanish for a while and Prince George could already count to 10 in Spanish.
Princess Charlotte might seem too young to be learning words in another language but actually, the timing is perfect.
“It’s best for children to get exposure to another language as early as possible,” said Jade Braithwaite, who teaches babies and toddlers French and Spanish through BilinguaSing Huddersfield.
“When they’re babies their brains are already taking in everything around them.”
Braithwaite continued: “When we think about teaching babies their first language, we just speak to them constantly and it is all they hear all day.
“So exposing them to a second language works in the same way.”
Babies’ brains are able to distinguish between the different sounds in different languages, so learning two languages won’t confuse them.
“If their input in both languages remains there is no reason for their first language to be affected,” Braithwaite added.
“For example, a child learning a second language in England wouldn’t lose their English as they are more than likely attend an English school or nursery. It won’t confuse them, as they’re able to distinguish what language to use in what context.”
There are many studies explaining why learning languages at a young age is beneficial, as well as research that shows additional benefits of bilingualism. In fact, a recent study published on 16 January 2017 found that being bilingual may increase the cognitive flexibility in kids with autism spectrum disorders.
A study by the University of Washington in 2004 found that a baby’s brain can tell the difference between up to 800 sounds at birth. At this stage, babies can learn any language they’re exposed to.
And another study by the University of Washington in 2015 also found babies can “crack the code” of an additional language through social skills and role play.
Despite reports suggesting Princess Charlotte is “bilingual”, this does not necessarily mean she can speak Spanish fluently.
“Bilingual is a difficult term to define as no bilingual is the same,” explained Braithwaite. “Some bilinguals have equal ability in both languages, some are more confident in one. So in children the same applies.
“No two children are the same and they develop at different rates. Some children will say words and phrases for some things in one language and others in another.
“Other children can sing songs, count, use the alphabet and be called ‘bilingual’ and others may understand it but not speak it yet.”
Although Princess Charlotte has the benefit of having a Spanish nanny, that isn’t the only way toddlers can learn new languages.
“Kids can learn through songs, watching TV or film in the target language and through classes,” said Braithwaite.
“There are bilingual children’s books available that make it easier for parents with no/little language background and some books offer sounds so parents can learn pronunciation too.
“Apps parents could download include Mama Lingua and Mondly Kids, as well as more specific ones such as ‘Spanish for Kids’ and ‘Chick - Learn French’.”
Parents could also take kids to local baby classes that teach languages alongside music and role play. BilinguaSing runs nationwide and is available for babies and toddlers; Baby Bright Eyes operates in the midlands and north west areas and Kidslingo operates nationwide, too.