Speaking more than one language at home

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Children learning more than one language

Speaking more than one language is a good skill for your child.

Understanding bilingualism

Speaking more than one language is common all over the world.  Research has shown that people who speak more than one language are more able to think flexibly and learn other languages later.

Speech and Language

Some children learning more than one language might take a bit longer to get going with their talking.

However, their first words and other milestones should still be around the same age as any other child.

Remember, bilingual children can have speech and language difficulties, just like children who speak one language.

Keeping the home language going

  • Start talking to your child in your home language from a young age.
  • Don’t worry too much if your child doesn’t talk back to you in your language. This is very common when the language they hear around them is different.
  • Don’t stop talking in your language – your child will learn to understand it.
  • When there is a good reason for your child to use your language (for example, when they play with other children who speak it) they will learn quickly.
  • Show that you are proud of your language and culture. Share stories or food from your country at your child’s school.

What you can do

Which language?

  • Use the language you are most comfortable with.
  • Using your own language means you will be able to give a good model to your child.
  • Your child will learn English more easily if they have a good knowledge of their first language.

Encouraging the home language

  • Tell your child stories and rhymes in your own language.
  • Read books together in your own language.
  • Have fun, play games and sing songs and nursery rhymes in your language too.

Using more than one language

Try to stick to one language at a time.  There are different ways to do this.   Some families have tried:

  • One language per parent (e.g. Daddy speaks English and Mummy and Grandma speak Vietnamese)
  • One language per environment (e.g. Turkish at home and English at nursery and at the shops)

Do what is natural!  If you sometimes swap languages for certain words this is okay.