Multilingualism & Disorders: When Should We Ask Another Speech-Language Therapist for a Second Opinion?

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Multilingualism is neither odd nor worrying: what is odd, and very worrying, are the views that persist about it.

The topics in this Multilingualism & Disorders series aim at clarifying the misconceptions that associate multilingualism with disorders.

Each topic offers a brief introduction to common questions, and includes one token reference, which either marks watershed findings or otherwise addresses points which are perhaps less known within research on multilingualism.

This condensed format is deliberate, meant to invite discussion, thoughts, and more queries. Only with your help, as engaged readers, can we make this series the useful tool that we hope it will become.

— Madalena Cruz-Ferreira

When should we ask another speech-language therapist for a second opinion?

One tell-tale sign that it is time to seek a second opinion is the recommendation that a multilingual family should stick to one language, where the therapist suspects a language disorder or other disorders.

If monolingualism inhibited or cured disorders, there would be no monolinguals with disorders.  Recommending monolingualism assumes that multilingualism affects language disorders and other disorders, a claim for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

Another sign is settling for testing the child in one single language. This is usually the mainstream language of education, and the one that the child may share with the therapist.

Testing one language of a multilingual child gives little information about the child’s overall linguistic ability, because being multilingual means using one’s languages in different ways. Language disorders affect all the languages of a multilingual and have therefore nothing to do with proficiency or test scores in one particular language.

Specific reference for the above topic:

General references relevant to core issues in the Multilingualism & Disorders series.

General public:

  • Cruz-Ferreira, M. (2010). Multilinguals are …? Battlebridge Publications. Book URL:
  • Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual. Life and reality. Harvard University Press. Book URL:


  • Cruz-Ferreira, M. (Ed.). (2010). Multilingual norms. Peter Lang.
    Book URL:
  • Genesee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M. (2004). Dual language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Brookes Publishing.
    Book URL:
  • Grosjean, F. (2008). Studying bilinguals. Oxford University Press.
    Book URL:
Madalena Cruz-Ferreira, PhD, University of Manchester, UK, is a multilingual parent, educator and scholar, and the author of Multilinguals are...?, a book on myths and misconceptions about multilingualism. Her blog Being Multilingual deals with multilingualism at home, in school and in clinic. Her contact, and details on her work, are at:

Disclaimer: This post and the comments provided below have been provided for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional financial, medical, legal, or other advice. This post has been published with the full consent of the author. The author has agreed to Madalena Cruz-Ferreira answering the Ask Madalena question publicly as well as readers leaving comments in the comment section below. Multilingual Living makes no representations or warranties and expressly disclaims any and all liability concerning any treatment or action by any person following the information offered or provided within or through this and any other information on this website. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional or medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. Please read our Terms of Use for more detail or contact us with any questions.

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