I don't know the details of any studies, but I think the general consensus these days is that bringing up children multilingual from the start is a positive thing to do, even if it can slightly delay their initial development.

As our oldest is starting to learn to read at school, I wondered if anyone knows if there are any studies about learning to read in two languages? Specifically: is there a difference in the conclusions for reading compared to talking?

(The two languages in this case are French & English).

  • There are loads of studies on the issue, but I'm unclear on what your question is. Yes, the consensus is that multiple languages will delay initial language development, but make it easier to learn more languages later. As you don't seem to have any actual question I'd say this is a duplicate of the similar questions parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/67/… parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/15/… Commented May 30, 2011 at 8:33
  • @Lennart, revised my question a bit.
    – Benjol
    Commented May 30, 2011 at 8:38
  • Does your oldest already speak both languages, and you're just asking about adding reading and writing to bilingual speech? Or are you talking about having your oldest start learning a second language through reading?
    – user420
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 13:56
  • @Beofett, the former. I can't imagine anyone learning a new language and learning to read at the same time!
    – Benjol
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 5:35
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure that my knowing how to read in Hungarian by the time I started learning English in preschool/kindergarten was a help, not a hindrance. I remember using my knowledge of Hungarian writing, which is highly phonetic, to help study for English spelling tests -- I'd read the word to myself as if it were Hungarian, which generally sounded really odd and therefore was easy to remember.
    – JPmiaou
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


Here is a link to one study that addresses the outcome of reading development in bilingual children. I've included most of the abstract summary.

An early age of first bilingual language exposure had a positive effect on reading, phonological awareness, and language competence in both languages: early bilinguals (age of first exposure 0–3 years) outperformed other bilingual groups (age of first exposure 3–6 years). Remarkably, schooling in two languages afforded children from monolingual English homes an advantage in phoneme awareness skills. Early bilingual exposure is best for dual language reading development, and it may afford such a powerful positive impact on reading and language development that it may possibly ameliorate the negative effect of low SES on literacy. Further, age of first bilingual exposure provides a new tool for evaluating whether a young bilingual has a reading problem versus whether he or she is a typically-developing dual-language learner.


Don't know if there are any studies but I have a 5 year old grandniece. She has been brought up to speak two languages (her Father is French, her mother is English). She is now learning to read in both languages. This does not pose her any problems. She can easily switch from one language to another as she has been doing this since birth.

  • 1
    The question is specifically related to studies, not anecdotal evidence. Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 15:48

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