Late talking and the impact of bilingualism

Dr. Brenda K. Gorman, Contributing Author

A very common question that I receive from speech-language pathologists and parents is whether or not growing up with two languages can cause late-talking. When SLPs say “late-talking,” we are generally referring to children who are producing approximately 50 words or fewer by two years of age. Children with normal language development are generally producing between 200 and 300 words at that age, and of course, they are understanding many more.

Many other professors who specialize in dual-language issues often receive the same inquiry. Therefore, to help address this common question, Dr. Alejandro Brice and I created a short online video relevant to the topic which you can view and share at In this video, I discuss the incidence of late-talking and summarize the research, which, in a nutshell, does not indicate that early bilingual exposure causes late-talking. Finally, I share a memorable experience with one of my own children.

We hope you find the video helpful!


About Brenda K. Gorman

Dr. Gorman is an Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois. She completed her Master’s and Doctorate with a multicultural/bilingual specialization in Communication Sciences and Disorders at The University of Texas at Austin. Brenda worked for many years as a bilingual (Spanish-English) speech-language pathologist serving diverse caseloads for public school districts, early intervention agencies, and a company which she co-founded in 2001. She has an extensive background in working with ELLs and providing professional development to teachers who work with ELLs, and she serves as a clinical advisor to Lingua Health and Grupo Lingua. Brenda has conducted research, published, and presented on topics related to speech and language assessment and intervention in bilingual populations and language and literacy development and disorders. She has taught courses in numerous topic areas ranging from assessment and intervention in bilingual populations, child language and literacy disorders, speech sound disorders, fluency, to adult language disorders and AAC. She co-directed the Reading Acquisition for Spanish Speakers Program (RASPA) and an Early Reading First (ERF) project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education while at Marquette University, where she earned tenure in 2013. Brenda is now at Elmhurst College, where she is investigating language and literacy assessment and intervention in bilinguals and co-developing a dual-language (Spanish-English) language and literacy curriculum for preschoolers.

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