Guest post by Sunita Shah, RCSLT Advisor on bilingualism and Chair of the London SIG for Bilingualism
· It is important that you continue to use all languages introduced to the child.
· Do not be concerned about mixing different languages in one sentence. This is natural for a bilingual speaker.
· Be consistent in your choice of words to name objects in a particular sentence. If you are using a word in one sentence do not refer to that word in the additional language in the same sentence.
· The focus should be helping the child feel successful in giving and receiving a message. Continue speaking your chosen language/s to your child even if he or she speaks back to you in a different language. If the child responds the message has been understood.
· Use short phrases with lots of gesture and facial expression, as well as expression in your voice. This will help the child understand the meaning behind the words.
· Encourage your child’s attempts to communicate in either language, giving lots of praise.
· Use nursery rhymes and stories from any culture/language.
· Advice from Speech and Language Therapy programmes can be given in any language. Discuss this with your Speech & Language Therapist.
You may be concerned that if your child has not heard much English, he/she will be at a disadvantage when starting school. However, as long as your child has a strong foundation in their home language, then there should be no difficulty learning English.
The Speech and Language Therapy profession recognises that Bilingualism in a child is an advantage to learning.