My late talker, bilingual three-year-old is now a little chatterbox. He impresses me every day with his vocabulary and grammar skills. When he turned 2 1/2 years old, his language skills exploded. He quickly increased his vocabulary and started putting 2 words together. However, even though he understands it, he wasn’t saying much of anything in Spanish.
I know I have said this over and over and over. Learning two languages does not cause a child to have a language delay. Therefore, speaking only one language does not “cure” a late talker either.
When my son started talking, most of his language was in English. He understood Spanish but wasn’t speaking it yet. As a speech therapist and a mom, this issue was new for me. I had to really think how I could encourage more Spanish expressive language. I had my husband try different strategies, and we found one that worked the best. Read more below.
Quick Review: Again, as I have said a million times, you want language instruction for toddlers to be as natural as possible. This means, you don’t want to “drill” vocabulary words or quiz. You want kids to learn language as they play and live their fun, energetic lives! This was true for my bilingual son too.
When my husband speaks to my son in Spanish, my son answers him in English.
So how to solve this....
It is SIMPLE! When my husband and son are playing, my husband speaks to him in Spanish. My son answers him in English. My husband will acknowledge his English response (a.k.a, keep the interaction going) but repeats what my son said in Spanish and then keep playing. The goal is that my son will repeat the Spanish “translation” and in turn, improve his Spanish expressive vocabulary.
Low and behold...it worked!!!!
This pressure free way is a win win! My son is now speaking Spanish, and it was fun and easy to do.
Quick Bilingual Tips for Late Talkers (or any bilingual child):
These are things to avoid:
You want to make language learning fun. It is fun and exciting already for little ones. They are inherently motivated if the context of learning is natural. If you make learning a second language stressful, they won’t want to do it!
If you need more information on late talkers, please check out our eBook!
Just use the tips described in the book in your strongest language!
Before I jump into the resources, let me clear up the difference between language and articulation.
If you think your child has trouble saying sounds correctly, we have resources for you!