Saturday, 9 April 2011

'What do I do to help my child learn language in a bi-lingual family'?: Advice For Parents/Carers Of Bilingual Children

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.

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