more languages affect speech delay

“Speaking in more than one language slows a child with language delay down”

“If learning one language is hard for the child, then two languages will be even more difficult for them”


I come across these statements often by parents or staff and sometimes the families I work with are given this advice by other (non-SLT) professionals and are advised to switch to using just one language! (mainly English) 🤔 . There is no evidence to support that this has been successful for bilingual children with speech, language and communication needs.
For typically developing children, research shows that children learning two or more languages can lead to higher educational achievement, enhanced cognitive abilities and improved social use of language👍 .
Research into children with speech, language and communication difficulties have found that being bilingual does not cause more of a language delay in comparison to children speaking just one language (Cruz-Ferreira, 2011Kohnert, 2007).


Don’t drop your home language so suddenly, please give it some serious thought as languages can easily be lost like this through the generations (I’m an example of this with my children who speak very little Mirpuri Punjabi now as mine is not great due to my mum deciding to speak to me in English only when I was little!🤣).
To speak in the language/s that you are most comfortable and strong in speaking in to the child as they will get the best language model possible which is what your child needs from you to learn language.
 If you want, you can associate each language to a different situation to help you and the child to get used to this pattern and accept the two languages more easily. For example, some of my families decided to speak in their home language when at home but when they were out and about, they switched to English. Other families decided that one parent would speak in the home language to the children and the other parent will speak in English. There are other scenarios, you can be structured or unstructured with it, it’s up to you.
Try not to overthink this and worry about it. It’s figuring out what works best for you as a family and what you find the child responds well to that will help you the most. Each family is different and so what works for one family might not be ideal for you.
Discuss it with your Speech and Language Therapist. They will help you figure out the best way forward so that you can retain and develop both your home language and English with your child.
If you have more questions about this, get in touch with me or feel free to post your thoughts on this thread, I would love to hear them.
Love Nergis 💕

Further reading on this topic@

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Prof. Kathy Kohnert talking about bilingual language development