Bonjour lecteurs! Today, I am back to my old roots. Talking more specifically about being a bilingual family! Communication skills have such an impact on our day-to-day life. It is obviously the source of building relationships and so much more. Nowadays, more children start primary school with developmental language disorders. The recent interruptions in their education over the last three years have had a huge impact on pre-schoolers. If like me, you are in a bilingual household, it can even be trickier. Here are my 8 tips on How To Develop Communication Skills With Bilingual Children.
Use Your Native Language As Often As Possible
Many pieces of research showed that c’est important that the first language your child learns is your native language. It helps them recognise your voice when they are newborns and smoothly bond with you.
And later in life, they will naturally see the difference once you start introducing them to a new idiom. Start with basic words like ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’, ‘Bye’, and ‘Thank You’.
Talk to your children in your native language as often as possible. Why not join a mum group with other mamas from your country? Being surrounded by people talking in your language will make it like a natural setting for your child.
En plus, if you also speak English, they will naturally pick up words from both languages and it will enhance their communication skills without even thinking about it.
The Power Of Visuals
You can also use all sorts of visuals and aids to enhance children’s communication skills. Use blocks, toys, or even objects in your day-to-day life.
When Stanley was a baby, I would go for walk with him in his buggy and I would point out things we were coming across, telling him the word both in French and in English. Go even further, use all their 5 senses to attach what they experience to words.
He also used to watch cartoons in French when he was a small toddler. At this age, their brain is like a sponge, and he was fascinated by them. He would then reproduce some words in French.
Build Their Basic Vocabulary Step by Step
Start with greetings and other basic social words such as ‘ how are you?’, ‘I’m good’, and ‘thank you’.
Then, move on to different topics such as food and drink words, body parts, colours, household items, and transports.
Action words are a good one to get started too before moving on to adjectives or opinions.
Model For Your Child
Little ones tend to mimic their parents. We are basically modeling for them, so make it playful.
Use sounds, and model syllables to your children. Par exemple, I would exaggerate the sounds of words with Stanley.
Sometimes, I would even be silly and produce noises to make it more fun.
Therefore, there are some words he naturally uses in French straight away. Make it fun and silly, it always works! Babble and vocalises words.
My little one knows all the funny words in French such as ‘fart’, ‘poo’… You get l’idée! 😝
Use Music & Make It Playful
Music can be such a great way to develop vocabulary and communication skills.
That’s basically how nursery rhymes work. They converge a message, and they model well words and syllables to children.
Why not do the same in your own language? Adapt the English songs they learn at the nursery or pre-school and sing it at home in your native tongue.
Or do role-plays with your children at home. Stanley still enjoys it. He would have fun pretending to be the postman or pretending to go to the shop. And when Nanny S comes over, they still both like playing school.
The Importance of Drilling Words & Expressions
To build your child’s language skills, it’s important to repeat words encore and encore.
The more modelling opportunities you have, the more confident they will become at reusing the words themselves.
Teach them to understand words before they can say them with their correct meanings. Show them the items too. And use the language repetitively in the right context.
Read, Read, Read, Read, Read
I am sure you have heard this one so many times, but reading daily from a very young age can have such a great impact on children’s communication skills.
Not only it develops their speaking abilities, but also their writing and listening skills, as well their vocabulary.
I have been reading to Stanley since he was a few weeks old and he has always been fascinated by stories. People keep telling me how great his vocabulary is for his age. En plus, he has a great imagination too. No doubt it is down to the time we spend reading.
And bedtime stories are such a lovely moment to bond with your child. Those memories are very precious to me. So much we now read a book (or two!) every morning while we have breakfast. It’s our morning tradition and I would not change it for anything!
Lastly, if you have any doubts that your little one is behind with his communication skills, get it checked out with a certified speech and language professional.
Brands like Noala are here to help and accessible to you, especially if you are not sure what to do. They offer free 10-minute calls to families needing advice and support to foster their children’s communication.
It can feel overwhelming within your parenting journey. So, having an expert along the way will definitely support you.
Communication skills, whatever your child’s level, are a long process that can always be improved with patience, determination, and a positive mindset.
Daily routines and small actions like those I described in this post will always have an impact in the long term. So keep it up.
Also, remember that every child works at their own pace. So if you have any doubts, seek advice from experts such as Noala. They will have strategies in place that are specific to your child’s needs.
What did you do to help develop communication skills with your children? Did you teach them another language? If so, what really supported their learning?
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Noala.