#313 Bilingualism and Language Delay in Toddlers

On today’s show my guest is Becky Green, a trilingual speech-language therapist working in California. She has worked in both early intervention and in preschools with families from different language backgrounds since starting her profession as an SLP. Prior to that, she worked as an elementary educator (fifth grade teacher) and as well as an English teacher in Portugal. She is very passionate about multilingualism. Listen here:

We discussed:

The speech therapist’s role in working with bilingual families

o Current statistics on bilingualism in early intervention

o Our roles in working with multicultural populations


What does the current research say on learning two languages?

o What the research says for typically developing children.

·         Benefits of bilingualism


o   What the research says for children with developmental delays

·         Being bilingual does not worsen a language delay according to the research

·         Benefits of being bilingual for children with developmental delays

·         Challenges to consider for our bilingual children with developmental delays

·         What do parents need from us as SLP’s


Assessment of children who are bilingual

o   Difference versus Disorder

·         Look at the milestones

·         What’s typical language for bilingual children?

·         What are red flags


What to do in therapy

o Do’s and don’ts for SLP’s and parents (code mixing, simultaneous translation)

·         All language input needs to be meaningful (no ABC’s, colors, shapes)

·         Learning a language needs to be active rather than passive

o When you don’t speak the family’s language


Recommendations for parents to support the home language

o When the child doesn’t want to learn

o When the community language “takes over”


Closing words:

Remember, it’s individual. One recommendation and one-size does not fit all families. We just

need to know the research and help our families with short-term and long-term goals.




This website contains information in English and Spanish about raising bilingual children and how to create age appropriate reading activities for children from infancy to young adults.



This a blog created by a bilingual educator and parent. She also has a podcast in which she discusses different challenges with bilingualism and how to overcome those challenges.


The Bilingual Edge By Dr. Kendall King, and Dr. Alison Mackey. A great book for parents on the how’s of teaching a child two languages and they do touch on the topic of language delays and bilingualism.


For SLP’s

asha.org – Our professional association, ASHA, offers guidelines for collaborating with interpreters, as well as information on second-language acquisition and guidelines for bilingual service providers.  Search for Bilingual Service Delivery on ASHA.


https://2languages2worlds.wordpress.com/ – This is a great blog created by Dr. Elizabeth Peña and other researchers to discuss research for bilingual students and adults.  This blog also has a long list of recommended blogs for both parents and speech therapists.


GREENSPEECHTHERAPY.COM – Becky’s own site filled with great resources for parents and SLPs! Two great posts I want to be sure you see…

Becoming Bilingual even with a Language Delay – practical recommendations for parents

How to Support Your Bilingual Families – excellent advice for SLPs

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1 Comment

  1. Luzanne on May 31, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Dear Laura and Becky,

    I am a Speech Therapist in South Africa and we are all bilingual, so this podcast was so useful to listen to! Thanks for all the practical ideas and to clear up the confusion about bilingual language learning and language delays.

    Almost all our day care center’s are operating in two languages (Afrikaans and English) and I’ve had a lot of parents ask me if it will have a negative influence on their child’s development.

    I recently graduated so luckily I was exposed to the latest research regarding second language learning etc. but I am really grateful for your website. I mostly work with little ones and it’s so nice to be able to refer my parents to your website for more information .

    Thank you!!

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