Tag Archive for: talking

Bilingualism in Early Childhood – Why it Matters & How to Support it

Young children are naturally wired to learn languages and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t learn more than one, particularly if they receive appropriate support. Bilingualism refers to the ability to speak two or more languages fluently. In today’s globalised world, being bilingual – or multilingual – has become an increasingly valuable asset. For children, bilingualism can offer numerous benefits, including enhanced cognitive development, improved language skills, and greater cultural awareness. However, raising a bilingual child can also present a few challenges, such as language confusion and potentially a slower rate of vocabulary acquisition in each separate language. In today’s article, we explore the benefits and challenges of bilingualism in children, as well as strategies for supporting their bilingual language development. This may better enable parents and caregivers to support the language development of children under their care.

The Advantages of Bilingualism in Children

Bilingualism can provide numerous benefits for children, including:

Enhanced Cognitive Development

Bilingualism can provide numerous benefits for childrenBilingual children have been shown to have better cognitive flexibility, focus and creativity. Studies have shown that this often leads to better decision-making, prioritisation and planning skills too. With such skills in place, bilingual children may also have a better ability to multitask and switch between separate tasks.

Better Problem-Solving Skills

Bilingual children have been found to be better at solving complex problems. This is likely due to their enhanced cognitive flexibility and ability to approach problems from multiple perspectives.

Improved Language Skills

Bilingual children have been found to have a better understanding of language structure and grammar, as well as a larger vocabulary in both languages combined. Some may also develop better pronunciation and intonation in each language, according to studies.

“Language feeds the brain and links us to our family, our community and our friends. This is vital for a young child’s sense of self.” (National Literacy Trust)

Greater Cultural Awareness and Empathy

Bilingual children have a greater understanding and appreciation of different cultures and perspectives. They are more likely to be open-minded and accepting of others, which can also lead to greater empathy and tolerance.

Clearly, bilingualism offers numerous benefits to children and can positively affect their cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development. It is therefore to be encouraged.

Potential Challenges of Bilingualism in Children

While bilingualism offers many benefits to children, it can also present unique challenges. These may include:

Language Confusion

While bilingualism offers many benefits to children, it can also present unique challengesYoung bilingual children may sometimes mix their languages or use one language inappropriately in certain contexts. This is a normal part of the language acquisition process but can be a little confusing, at times, for both the child and their caregivers.

Slower Rate of Language Acquisition? Actually No!

You may have read that bilingual children may take longer to develop language skills than monolingual children. It was thought that this was because they are learning two languages at the same time, which in theory could be more challenging and time-consuming. However, studies show that this is a myth.

“The idea that two languages cause language delays in children has been a long-standing myth … However, research has dispelled this myth. Children are able to learn two languages at the same pace as other children who are learning only one language.” (Nationwide Children’s Hospital)

Possible Language Loss if Not Maintained

If a bilingual child does not have consistent exposure to both languages, they may lose proficiency in one over time. This can occur if the child is not regularly exposed to one language, or if they are discouraged from using one language in favour of the other. As adults, many of us know this to be true if we learnt a second language at school and have not used it subsequently — it’s easy to quickly forget vocabulary if not regularly used.

It’s important to remember that being bilingual is a valuable skill and that the benefits far outweigh the potential challenges that we’ve highlighted. With consistent exposure to both languages and support from caregivers and educators, bilingual children can overcome the challenges and naturally become proficient in both languages.

Strategies & Tips for Supporting Bilingual Children

Parents, caregivers, and educators can support bilingual children and promote their language development in several ways. Some support strategy ideas follow.

Speak Both Languages Consistently

Parents, caregivers, and educators can support bilingual children and promote their language development in several waysParents play a crucial role in supporting their bilingual children’s language development. To help your child become proficient in two different languages, it’s important to consistently speak both at home. Doing so can help children develop a particularly strong foundation in both languages.

Consistent Exposure to Both Languages

Consistent exposure to both languages can also be aided by children having regular access to reading books (including dual language books) as well as audio and visual media presented in each. Music, movies, and even audiobooks, for example, may help.

Encouraging Language Use

Bilingual children may initially prefer to use one language over the other, but it’s important to encourage them to use both. This can be achieved by speaking to the child in both languages and providing opportunities for them to use both of them in daily life.

Emphasise the Importance of Both Languages

Make sure your child understands the value of being bilingual and the benefits it offers. Encourage them to use both languages and help them understand the importance of maintaining proficiency in both.

Creating a Language-Rich Environment

Bilingual children benefit from exposure to a variety of other language-rich environments, such as bilingual story times, cultural festivals, and family gatherings where more than one language will be spoken. These environments can help children develop their language skills at the same time as increasing their exposure to different cultures.

Be Patient

Bilingual language development is an enormous undertaking, so it’s important to be patient with your child’s progress. Don’t worry if your child mixes languages or takes longer to develop language skills in one language compared to the other. Such a thing is relatively easy to rectify with the appropriate focus being given to the weaker of the two, for example when talking at home.

Seek Out Resources & Support

Look for resources and support for bilingual families, such as bilingual playgroups. These can provide your child with additional exposure to both languages and connect you with other families in similar situations.

Provide Additional Language Support if Needed

Bilingual children may require additional support if they are struggling with language development, although the same can be said for any child learning even only one language. Either way, such support can include enrolling the child in language classes or working with a tutor or speech therapist to address any language delays or difficulties.

As we have seen above, bilingualism offers many advantages to children and can help them develop important cognitive and social skills. However, bilingualism also presents a few, unique challenges that parents, caregivers, and educators may have to navigate. By providing consistent exposure to both languages, creating a language-rich environment, and supporting children’s language development, bilingual children can become proficient in both languages and fully realise all the benefits that bilingualism offers. More tips for parents of bilingual children are available in a variety of languages here.

Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham

The Highest Quality Childcare for Babies & Children Under 5 in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.As a childcare nursery, we recognise the value of bilingualism in the children we care for. Therefore, we support their language development in a way that fosters overall growth and development whilst also celebrating their cultural heritage.

Why not bring your baby, toddler or preschooler along for a guided tour of the setting, so you can meet the staff, see the facilities and ask any questions? You can also see how well your child fits in. Or, if you are ready to register your child for a place, we’ll be delighted to welcome them to Little Cedars Nursery. Please take the first step using a button below:

Little Cedars Day Nursery is officially a good nursery and preschool and is located in Streatham, SW16. We are also conveniently close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. All Government childcare funding schemes are supported.

Speech Milestones at 30 Months - a Guide

Today we explore what you should expect your 30-month-old to be able to say by this stage and what to do if there are any concerns.Milestones are a crucial thing to monitor when you’re bringing up a baby or young child. Speech is an important one and it’s one that parents would be wise to take stock of at regular times in their child’s early years. Today we look at this milestone at around the age of 30 months. So, what should you expect your 30-month-old to be able to say at this age and, if appropriate, how can you encourage them to speak more? Let’s explore speech milestones at 30 months

So, What is the Average 30-Month-Old Saying?

It’s important to appreciate that children develop skills, including speech, at different rates and times. However, that said, by the age 30 months (2½ years of age), many toddlers can say about 200 or more words. They can also start to put 2- or 3-word sentences together. Conversations between you and your toddler are starting to take shape, with exchanges back and forth. Parents, or anyone looking after your toddler on a regular basis, should understand about 50% of a child’s speech at 2 years of age, increasing to about 75% at 3 years.

30 Month Speech Milestones

By the age of 30 months:

  • Toddlers are starting to successfully use verbs as part of their language, for example, drinking, dressing, and playing.
  • They are starting to use two or even three syllable words, like carrot and banana.
  • They are starting to use three to four words into short sentences, for example, “We go to swings.”
  • They understand that adding an ‘s’ to nouns makes them plural, for example toys.
  • They can say their own name.
  • They are differentiating between big and small.
  • Having learnt to take turns and share with other children, they may use words like share.”
  • The can understand a question like, Where is the ball?”
  • They may still be practising putting the correct sound at the beginning of each word.
  • They may have accomplished the general sound but may still be trying to properly finish words.

Encouraging your Toddler to Talk More

The more ‘chatty’ time you have with your toddler, the more they will naturally get involved.The more ‘chatty’ time you have with your toddler, the more they will naturally get involved — and learn from you. Talking to your toddler facilitates good listening skills and helps them to build up their own vocabulary, particularly when you make physical reference to the things you are talking about. In this way they can associate a word with its physical equivalent (e.g. holding up or pointing to an object that you’re talking about).

Helping them build vocabulary can be as simple as talking to them about what they are having for lunch, or about activities they are taking part in. Maybe talk about friends and family, daily activities such as dressing, meal times and suchlike. Use words that they will relate to and therefore eventually understand. For example, “What jumper would you like to wear today? Would you like to wear the purple one?” or, “It’s cold outside today; shall we put our coats on?”

When talking about objects, try expanding the conversation. For example, say, “The car is going fast,” or, “The big blue ball.” Try and describe things as you speak to your child as it will add to their vocabulary and comprehension.

When talking about objects, try expanding the conversation.Use repetition. This helps your toddler through hearing the same words over and over again. They will copy and get used to which words go with which scenario in this way. You can take this a step further too…

There are many songs and nursery rhymes that toddlers can join in with. Sing along to them, do the actions to the songs and encourage your child to join in. Then, they’ll learn words and sentences through both repetition and song — and it’s all achieved in a fun way!

Talk about feeling words. For example, “The boy is happy, the girl is sad”. You can use the appropriate face to back up the words.

Puzzles and books are a great way to lean new words. Basic puzzles, often of farm animals or vehicles, or incorporating colours, are a great opportunity for your toddler to repeat the words relating to the puzzle pieces as you point them out.

Try and describe things as you speak to your child as it will add to their vocabulary and comprehension.The same applies to books. Get your toddler to point out details in pictures sand repeat the words after you. You can also ask your toddler questions about the book and get a conversation going, for example, whether they know a particular character, a particular object or a colour. Point to details and see if they know the word, or say the word out loud and let them repeat it.

Making up games can encourage your toddler to get involved verbally. Pretending to be animals, spacemen or any character at all can promote their speech, even if it’s copying from a character they have seen on screen time.

Remove distractions like TV and music when speaking with your child. It will help them concentrate more on listening to and speaking with you.

Help them with their sentences. For example, if they say, “This ball”, you could clarify it and say, “Yes, this is a ball.”

What if You’re Concerned About Your Toddler’s Speech?

As we said near the start, it’s important to remember that all toddlers are different and you cannot compare them to their friends or family and expect them to all learn and develop at exactly the same rate. That being said, perhaps ask yourself:

  • Can my toddler say at least 50 up to potentially 200 words (and actually understand up to 500)?
  • Can they say their name?
  • Can they respond well to instructions?
  • Do they respond to questions involving “who” or “what”?
  • Can they say what is going on in a particular scenario? For example, if you asked, “What is the boy playing with?” can they recognise and say the answer, e.g. “A ball”?
  • Can they point and say what pictures are in a book or puzzle?

If you have any concerns, it is worth mentioning it to a health professional just in case, for example your GP or health visitor. In some rare cases, this may identify speech or even hearing issues. In such cases, a child can be referred to an appropriate professional, for example a speech and language therapist (‘SLT’) although parents in the UK are also able to make a referral themselves (more information is available here). If there’s no problem, though, advice from a professional may simply put your mind at ease. At the very least, a closer understanding of your toddler’s progress will be beneficial to all parties, including the child.

More information about helping your little one to learn to speak is available on the NHS website.

Childcare Places at our Wonderful Nursery & Pre-School in Streatham

Babies & Under-Fives Get the Best Start in Life at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider of childcare services.This article was brought to you by the team at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Here, babies and children under five are lovingly looked after, given the best early years education and nurtured for success in a fun, homely environment.  The nursery and pre-school has a good Ofsted rating.

Why not come for a visit, so that you can see the nursery and pre-school in action? Bring your little one and see how well they will fit in. Or, if you’ve already decided you’d like to register for a place for a child — or ask any questions — please get in touch using an appropriate button below:

Little Cedars Nursery is based in Streatham, close to Tooting Common and the A214. It is also convenient for families near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown as well as Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.