So many more children these days are learning to speak two languages. You might be wondering, if I’m dealing with a toddler speech delay, could the fact that I am teaching him two languages be the problem? The answer is no. You are actually doing your child a huge service by expanding his brain and language skills by introducing more than one language! So how do you handle a toddler speech delay in your bilingual child?
How To Handle A Toddler Speech Delay In Your Bilingual Child
Bilingualism is not the problem. Many people think that if a toddler learning two languages is delayed in speech development, then the problem is that they are trying to learn more than one language and they are getting confused. The truth is they would still have a speech delay if they were only trying to learn one language. Bilingual children are not learning the same word in both languages at the same time. What I mean is that when he learns the word for cat in English, he doesn’t simultaneously learn it in Spanish as well. If you are the one in the kitchen cooking and teaching your child Spanish, he will be learning those words related to cooking and food in Spanish, before he learns them in English. Unless of course you are also doing the same thing in English.
If you are concerned, you can talk to your child’s pediatrician. He can make a recommendation for your child to see a speech therapist. However just be patient. Give your child a little more time to learn words. It is easy for us as adults (who know the answers) to give the answers when we see our child struggling. Do not do this. Give your child time to respond and learn the words.
If you have other children, be sure to get them involved as well! It can be easy for a child to not use words when we are always responding to their needs when they express them in their own way, without words. We see children do this all the time when they want to be picked up. They stand in front of us and raise their arms and make sounds to get our attention. We know they want to be picked up, so we do. Be sure to tell your child to use his words, in whichever language you choose, but remind him to use his words. By responding to your child when they do not use words while they are learning them, you are hindering their use rather than encouraging it. Encourage them to use that sweet little voice!
What have you done to help your child with a toddler speech delay? Are you teaching more than one language in your home? What has been your experience in doing this? How have your children responded to learning more than one language? Post your stories below!