8. Parenting a child with English as an additional language

Sharing Parenting About UsParents often worry that their child will struggle learning two languages.  A child’s Language development takes place in a different part of the brain to an adult, which means it is actually easier for a child to learn a new language compared to an adult,  as long as they are given the right opportunities.

While a child is learning a new language their understanding will develop quicker than their expressive language.

If a child is learning two or more languages from birth it is normal for their expressive language to be a little slower than their peers, but do not worry they will catch up.

While learning a second language children often muddle both languages together, this is a normal stage of development, for a bilingual child. This is just because they cannot find the word they need from one language so they borrow it from another. Once their vocabulary has developed they will stop doing it.

Do not be tempted to use tablets or Youtube to teach English, children need to observe two way conversations in context. Watching English speaking, age appropriate programmes together as a family is a better way to support language development.

Stories are also a good way to help  build vocabulary. You can use bilingual books, but avoid using single word books, children need to hear how words are used in sentences to be able to use them.

An excellent way to support a new language is to spend time in an environment where people are speaking the language. Singing groups and trips to the park are great for this. Sharing parenting runs the Sharing Time group with songs and stories at Newmarket library, you are all welcome to come along and join us.

Remember to have the opportunity to learn two or more languages is a wonderful gift to give a child. If you would like further advice around supporting English as an additional language, please speak to a member of sharing Parenting at one of our local Pop Up’s or contact us.