International Journal of Innovative Research and Knowledge

Volume-7 Issue-12, December 2022

Title: Internationally adopted kids and language learning

Author: Manuela Morelli


Most families who live and adopt internationally face the decision of which language(s) their children should learn. Languages are a critical aspect of international adoption. Adopted kids need to shift from their native language to their “adoptive” language as part of the overall emotional adaptation. This shift needs to happen quite rapidly for them to be able to communicate particularly at the level of the family. The objective is to review the current practices, methodologies, research and some success stories on language learning for internationally adopted children. Make some recommendations and conclusions for parents and practitioners both to help the linguistic and emotional adaptation of internationally adopted children. Approximately 88% of children who have been adopted internationally have spent time in institutional care. Most of these children show a remarkable resilience when it comes to language development. The research talks about “a spectacularly rapid acquisition” of their new home language, for most children. Patterns of international adoption have changed with the overall numbers of inter-country adoptions declining over the years. And now the age at which children are being adopted tends to be older. This means that they will have spent more time in orphanages or foster homes before coming home.  Studies show that:

  1. Within a few years post-adoption children’s language skills are in line with their non-adopted peers. For example, Glennen (2015) found that children adopted at ages 1 and 2 reached expected language abilities for their age within 15 months of adoption. Children adopted at age 3 reached age-level expectations after 2 years of exposure to their new language, and children adopted at age 4 met expectations after 3 years of exposure.
  2. But later in life as the language demands in school increase, the language skills of children who are adopted internationally can fall behind their peers.
  3. This means that it is important to keep an eye on your child’s language development especially as they progress through school. This may be particularly important if your child tested in the low average range for language development when they were a toddler as they may be at a particular risk for language problems when they start school.

Structuring a language learning curriculum and methodology for internationally adopted kids represents a very personalized choice the parents along with the teachers will have to make. In general, studies show that internationally adopted children will speak later but it is important to expose them to as many languages as the family will consider relevant not only for the child development but also for the longer-term opportunities considering the family linguistic framework. It is important to take family age into consideration. Some learning strategies will be shared in appendix to the article.

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ISSN: 2213-1356

Publisher: Scholar Touch Publishers

Area/Scope: Business, Economics & Management; Social Science, Literature, Arts & Humanities; Engineering & Technology; Life Science & Physical Science, Health & Medical Science

Frequency: Monthly

Format: Online & Print

Language: English

Review Process: Double Blinded

Access: Open Access