Recommendations for Working with Bilingual Toddlers with Language Delay


Last Friday on the podcast I hosted a fantastic guest, speech-language pathologist Becky Green. Her specialty is working with bilingual toddlers with language delay. The information she shared included this TAKE AWAY message:

Learning two languages does not contribute to a child’s language delay.

In other words, this research confirmed that growing up in a bilingual home DOES NOT make a child’s language delay worse. Actually, experts now believe that simultaneous exposure to both languages may be beneficial rather than harmful (Pena 2016). An additional study Becky cited confirmed that preschoolers with language delays due to autism and Down syndrome speak two languages just as well as their peers with autism or Down syndrome who only speak one language.

Based on results of studies in the last few years, researchers have realized that some advice we offered parents of bilingual toddlers with language delay is now outdated. SLPs should steer clear of making these recommendations:

  • Stick to one language. 

    In the past we recommended that parents pick one language and use that language exclusively when talking with their child with a language delay. The rationale was to SIMPLIFY the language a child hears since there’s a problem with how the child understands, processes, and speaks. While that advice was certainly well-intentioned,  research does not support that exposure to only one language will eliminate or reduce language delay. Actually, this confirms what we’ve known for a long time – a language delay in one language means a language delay in other languages too. We need to make sure we tell parents that being bilingual did not “cause” the delay.

  • Simultaneous translation.

    We advised parents to translate most of what they talked about with a child in both languages the child is learning. For example, a parent may have said, “La casa es grande! The house is big!” This practice is no longer recommended. Studies say that the child’s little brain is busy detecting differences between the languages, rather than absorbing (and truly understanding!) the words she’s hearing. The better advice is to talk about what you are doing, even using both languages, but without translating back and forth. That’s good news! Simultaneous translation was incredibly frustrating for many families I’ve worked with – and me too!! It seemed to interrupt the natural flow of conversation. That’s a communication-killer.

In case you’re an SLP or another therapist and feeling guilty because you’ve made these recommendations to families, maybe even yesterday, stop! Don’t beat yourself up. Now that you know what is current and evidence-based, pivot. Adjust your advice. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve made these mistakes too. And now I won’t 🙂

Other great reminders we discussed on the show:

A red flag is a red flag is a red flag… no matter how many languages you speak!

Things like limited eye contact and difficulty interacting with others is NOT due to learning more than one language. Significant delays must NOT be attributed to learning more than one language. Becky gave an example of an SLP who said that it was normal for a 3 year old living in a bilingual home to use only 15 words.


Milestones are actually consistent across languages. A two year old who speaks English or Spanish or French, or even all 3 languages, should be talking in short, two-word phrases by age 2!

In light of that information, let’s revisit the previous example Becky mentioned for the 3 year old with only 15 words. There’s much, much more going on with that child than hearing more than one language at home! Although we used to believe that mild expressive delays were the norm for children learning more than one language, this is not supported by current findings.

Real life is better for teaching language than ANY OTHER ACTIVITY.

I talk about this everyday and I’ll continue in this post! Kids learn how to talk from PEOPLE, not toys, or a TV show, or an app. On the show Becky cited a study that confirmed that babies watching Chinese speakers on a video did NOT learn the subtleties of language that babies did who were face-to-face with Chinese speakers.

So….screen time, even an educational show or game, is NEVER a substitute for one-on-one time with a FUN adult!

Help a child learn to understand and use language by talking as you play, do household chores, run errands, or just hang out together. The very best way to teach language by using language all day, every day!


What else can parents do to support a bilingual child with a language delay?

Continue to follow strategies recommended by your SLP anytime you’re talking with a child who has a language delay. These include:

  • Simplification. Talk in short sentences rather than paragraphs! Emphasize key words.
  • Repetition. Repeating what you say is a powerful way to help young children understand your words.
  • Allowing extra time for processing. Slow down and pause to allow a young child time to keep up!
  • Using a child’s interests. Everybody likes to talk about (and do!) what they like!

For more discussion, listen to this episode of podcast yourself on iTunes or at this link.

Becky has launched a new website with great resources for working with bilingual families. It’s called and you’ll find references and helpful articles geared toward both SLPs and parents.


For more guidance for working with a child with language delays, check out these resources:

Teach Me To Talk: The DVD

When parents email me and ask, “Where do I begin?” this is ALWAYS what I recommend. This best-selling classic was my first DVD. It explains the basic beginning strategies appropriate for any toddler or preschooler who is not yet talking. You’ll see therapy clips with young children ranging from 9 months old to 3 years old. Six of the easiest and most successful ways to elicit first word attempts are highlighted during play-based activities.

Because this DVD is an excellent training tool for both families and professionals, many therapy practices require that new families view this DVD between the evaluation and first therapy session. After watching, parents understand what therapy looks like and are equipped to target language at home. Therapists also use clips from this DVD to introduce a strategy by watching together with parents during a session and then implementing the strategy with the child.

University graduate programs and practicum sites throughout the USA use this DVD during clinical training for speech-language pathologists and early childhood education majors. This DVD is also helpful for clinicians who may be new to early intervention and working with toddlers and their families – not only because of the “how to” therapy examples, but also for providing a “family-friendly script” to use in discussions with parents.

Parents email me every day to tell me how this DVD turned things around for their families because it taught them HOW to interact with their child in a way to facilitate language. (Regular price is $39.99) Click here to order Teach Me To Talk the DVD.

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1

This DVD discusses receptive language delays or language comprehension deficits in toddlers. In the DVD you’ll see strategies for teaching toddlers to understand what words mean and to follow simple directions using an easy to understand cueing system. This DVD is most appropriate for parents and professionals working with toddlers who are functioning below the 24 month developmental level and older preschoolers with significant receptive language delays. (Regular price – $29.99) Click here to order this DVD.

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2

This DVD discusses receptive language delays or language comprehension deficits in very young children. You’ll see how to teach toddlers to understand more complex words such as verbs, prepositions, and descriptive words and to follow more complicated two-step directions. This DVD is most appropriate for parents and professionals working with toddlers who are functioning at and above the 24 month developmental level up to the 3 1/2 to 4 year old developmental level.

As a bonus, this DVD includes a special section on disciplinary strategies appropriate for toddlers with language delays. It’s critical that we consider a child’s developmental age in determining behavioral expectations. Many parents tell me that their child did not make progress with expressive language (how they talked) until they implemented the receptive language strategies they learned from this DVD at home.  (Regular price is $39.99) Click here to order this DVD. Order BOTH Receptive Language DVDs and SAVE! The Set price is $54.99 for Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2. Click here to order the set.

Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia and Phonological Disorders

This 2 DVD set and discusses both motor and linguistic-based problems related to expressive communication disorders. There’s a section on the diagnostic characteristics for both apraxia and phonological disorders. Examples of oral groping and other speech characteristics of apraxia are shown and discussed. Beginning therapy strategies are modeled with a variety of children between 2 and 4 years old.

This DVD is by nature more technical than my other DVDs, but it is still appropriate for both parents and professionals. Sections are organized in sequential steps with easy-to-follow instructions to address first words and beginning speech intelligibility strategies both in sessions and at home. (Regular price is $69.99 for the set.) Click here to order this DVD.

Teach Me To Play WITH You

This 188 page therapy manual was written for parents working with young children who have difficulty interacting socially and connecting with others. Instructions are included for beginning play with developmentally-appropriate activities using simple games and toys that are readily available in most homes. There are separate chapters with explicit directions, words, and hand motions for many familiar finger plays and traditional childhood songs.
Activities are written so that professionals can copy pages of a specific activity, complete the activity during a session, and share the copy with parents with “homework.” The final chapter explains approximately 20 different common problems related to sensory processing issues. These problems can interfere with a child’s ability to engage others. In the book you’ll read multiple strategies for addressing these challenges. Parents RAVE about this book both to me via email and to their SLPs who use these activities in therapy and share copies with them! (Regular price is $48.) Click here to order this book.

Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual

This book is 220 pages written specifically for speech-language pathologists and other early intervention professionals who work with young children birth to 4 with receptive and expressive language delays and disorders. Because this project was written for professionals, it may not be as family-friendly. However, many committed mothers report that this manual gave them more direction and specific instructions than any other resource they’ve used.
This manual is especially helpful for short-term goal writing and for designing FUN and developmentally-appropriate treatment activities for toddlers and young children functioning from the 6-9 month developmental level up to the 48 month developmental level. It’s the ultimate “how to” tool for working with infants and toddlers with language delays. SLPs tell me this is their “EI Bible.” What a compliment! (Regular price is $54) Click here to order this book.

Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers

Learn the 8 levels of teaching a late talker to learn to imitate. Many times parents and therapists don’t see success with late talking toddlers because the adult isn’t working on the right things. The child actually needs to learn several ‘in-between’ steps before he’s ready to begin to imitate words and learn to talk. Professional treatment plans can also fail when the techniques are too clinical for parents.
This simple, straight-forward approach is easy for both parents and therapists to understand and implement during familiar play-based activities and daily routines. The ONE PAGE chart of the levels of imitation and the handouts for parents have been described as INDISPENSABLE TOOLS for SLPs. Use this treatment approach during home visits or in the clinic or at school. It’s perfect for programs that emphasize parent training and coaching models. (Regular price is $48.) Click here to order this book.
These products are always on sale when you use the coupon code 10off to save $10!




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"Hello Miss Laura,

First, I would like to thank you for all you do for us moms who are lacking support in the autism community, and thank you for providing tons of information and resources to help our bright children. I myself benefited so much from watching your videos and reading your daily emails. I cannot stress enough how much all this information helped my toddler. Of course, getting an autism diagnosis for your child is extremely scary (she was diagnosed at 2 years old) and I was depressed and did not know what autism was, how it affected children, and how to teach children struggling with this condition. However, your videos helped me to find light in my child and now I am your biggest fan! I rewatch your videos over and over again to make sure I didn't miss anything that can help my daughter. I even purchase two books- Autism workbook and Teach me to Play. My toddler was completely non-verbal, she didn't know how to imitate, no eye contact, no pointing.. you name it she didn't have any skills and I didn't know how to teach her! And that is until I discover ed You- my toddlers (Fairy: smiling_face_with_3_hearts:)!

Now she is little sweet 2.5 years old and she says "mama" (I cried when she said that magic word), she waves bye bye or hi, she points, she gives "high 5", her joint attention is great and overall she is doing so much better! And that's all because I have been doing everything you described in your books and videos! I. My mind I always play "repetition, repetition and repetition", teaching her everything through play that she so much enjoys!!! I can write forever explaining how much I taught her through yr videos and books! And the most amazing thing is that her speech therapist is a big fan of yours as well so it worked out perfectly since we understand each other and work based on your teachings! The therapist even owns the same books I own ...I am so grateful that my toddler has such an amazing therapist; especially the one that understands autism and is ready for a real challenge! God bless you for all you do and I cannot wait for my toddler blossom.. you gave me hope and lit the light inside me. And I'm determined to work with my girl :)"

"Dear Laura Mize and Team,

Thank you so much for all your hard work and publishing books! Our 17-month-old toddler suddenly exploded into speaking and imitating everybody's gestures and sounds, just a week or two after we 'completed' all activities that are listed under 11 pre-linguistic skills! Your method really works!"

Grateful customer.

"Hi Laura!

I absolutely LOVE all of your workbooks, especially your Autism Workbook. Starting with Social Games has been a game changer for many of my littles with ASD and their families. It's been the best way for them to finally connect and sustain shared attention and engagement, leading to longer social interactions, through play!"

Jodie, Dev, Therapist

"Hi Ms. Laura,

Thank you so much for the videos you have posted on your youtube channel. They are so direct, informative, and helpful. Thank you for being a resource for me to become a better therapist."


"Hi Laura - I just wanted to say I received my copies of the Apraxia workbooks yesterday and I LOVED workbook 1 (not ready for 2). I'm on chapter 8 and going through the questions carefully so I'm prepared to help my son. I knew it was a great book when you acknowledged the fact that sometimes therapists and doctors don't bring a positive and supportive vibe when diagnosing. I remember being terrified at the mention of apraxia and ASD by both because they had these very concerned looks and made it seem like it was a death sentence. I know now (in LARGE PART, THANKS TO YOU AND YOUR VIDEOS) that it doesn't have to be!! I see a future for him now. You SINGLE-HANDEDLY, through your books and videos have empowered me to help my son after the doctors and therapists have gone home. You've given me strategies, play ideas, plans on how to keep moving forward. I don't always do things right, but I know I'm on the right track and I love that I can reference, and re-reference your books to help me keep going. As I was reading the book, I was so proud of myself because I've used strategies from your previous books and it felt good because I could check off a lot of the skills that you discuss. So, thank you for all your previous books as well!!"

"Gosh, I love all of your emails/podcast/website, just everything!! I work in early intervention as a behavior analyst and am learning so much from you!"

Thank you!




I love your work! I am a professor of early childhood special education and a speech language pathologist! I have worked to help children learn to communicate and I know how valuable the information you share is for both early interventionists and pediatric speech language pathologists!

Thank you for systematically organizing and explaining essential steps for young children to learn and develop. You are having a great impact on our profession, the ECE profession and families!"



"Thank you.

If this is Laura herself reading this email let me take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have put forth for us professionals. I own every manual (except the autism manual) and have watched every course on DVD. I have listened to countless podcasts. All of what I’ve come to be as an Early Intervention speech therapist was absolutely to your credit. With your resources at my side I have never needed to scramble for answers and strategies and above all the clear language I use when communicating with parents. My fun, animated affect and key phrases I use have been learned through watching your example. So….thank you! May you be blessed."


"I just wanted to thank you so much for your incredible help! You are so kind and lovely and every time I implement something you've taught in your manuals or videos it is always a success, I cannot thank you enough. I really appreciate how specific you are in giving us examples of wording to use and how to use a toy in therapy with your videos, it is exactly what I need to properly help my little students. I also really appreciate your list of books of list of toys. I have seen my little students make significant progress thanks to you. I'm looking forward to watching more of your videos, taking more of your CEU's, and reading more of your materials. From the bottom of my heart: thank you so much again!!"


"Dear Laura,

What an inspiration!

Thank you for helping me be a better Developmental Therapist. I often listen to your podcasts which help me help families.

Your enthusiasm, professionalism and
the sheer volume of information is so great.

You are part of my team.

I just wanted you to know I appreciate you."


"Dear Laura,

Thank you for your generosity in sharing so much knowledge in such a clear and enthusiastic way.

As a retired audiologist with a fabulous and language delayed grandson, I used your podcasts and outstanding publication, The Autism Workbook, to inspire and guide me over the past year.

It works!! He went from barely verbal, no gestures, didn't respond to his name etc etc to a verbal, social, curious, ready to imitate anything, fill in the blanks on familiar "set" speech, generate his own totally appropriate and mostly understandable sentences...not just short phrases anymore... full little paragraphs...about imaginary things, what he did during the day, what he wants. True communication!

You make a powerful difference in this world! ❤"

With gratitude,

"Laura Mize, you are a Godsend. I don’t know how one human can have so many helpful things to say in a beautifully organized way, so often. Always amazes me when another super helpful email comes from you, and for free. With free YouTube videos and cheap CEUs. THANK YOU!!!"

Sheila, Canada

"I purchased the book on autism and have watched the #400s series podcasts. Laura Mize has been more effective in teaching autistic tendencies, than many professors, shadowing professions, and the 100s of books, articles and classes or videos, or live workshop speakers, have been at teaching effective practices for a child with ASD. Some of the many lessons she has taught, which I will now use, to be a more effective Interventionist, include but are not limited to: red flags, typical behaviors, self-stimulating behaviors, not taking away toys, rather showing child to play with toy appropriately. She gives examples of child's actions, "inappropriate," explains the reason for: why the child is engaging in these behaviors and how they can be replaced with more appropriate, effective fuctional and age-appropriate skills."

"I’m sure Laura gets these messages all the time, but I thought I’d share. I stumbled across Laura‘s "Autism or Speech Delay?" YouTube video when I really needed it. This video finally listed and explained some of the red flags my son was showing for autism. I share the link anytime a parent is questioning in my FB autism group. This mother I don’t even know said Laura's video changed her life. I know exactly how she feels because It changed families too. Thank you to everyone at Teach Me To Talk."


"Good Morning Laura,
I received your book (The Autism Workbook) yesterday and it is absolutely amazing! As I evaluate young children (0-3) for developmental delays and write plans for them with their parents, there are a ton of ideas that are ready to use. Others that reinforce what I have been doing, and saying, all along. Thank you so, so much for writing this incredible book and pulling everything together in one place!"


"Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, experience, and guidance.
I’m a parent who bought the autism workbook and it’s the only clear resource I found to make a change in my son. I’m really thankful to Ms. Laura for helping out people like us all over the world."

"Laura Mize, all I have to say is that ALL YOUR STRATEGIES WORK."

ANNE, YouTube viewer

"We have 7 SLPs in our preschool (public) program for special needs children (ages 3-5) and we use your courses, books, and techniques every day! :-) We have seen our preschoolers make such great gains!"


"I just received Teach Me to Play With You, and it is ALREADY WORKING! WOW!

Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!"  It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me!  Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”

"I wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you. I started watching your videos/podcasts about 4 months ago. My son has gone from losing words he previously used, only having about 7 words at his 2 year check up in August (assessed at a blended 10 month language level) -- to now having so many words, increased social engagement, following commands, spontaneously requesting things, and naming letters & numbers (not in order) as well as colors. We had our monthly meeting with our SLP through the state infants & toddlers program and it felt like we were just bragging the whole time, but I knew in the back of my head it was because I have been using strategies you taught me.

We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.

Thank you so much, endlessly."


"I just want to tell how fortunate I feel to have found your website and you!! I became a special instructor in EI almost a year ago and I started with hardly any applicable training. I felt so lost and confused as how to help the kids I work with learn how to use words and play. Honestly, I didn't even understand the importance of play, although I always played with my kids. But, once I started to watch your podcasts and get some of your manuals I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I could finally teach these kids and their families something of value from a real therapist and based on research!. Thank you so much for seeing the need to help other EI service providers and providing a forum to share your knowledge and years of valuable experience. I'm sure you get a lot of these emails every week if not every day, but I wanted to make I could add to those notes of gratitude!! THANK YOU again!!"


"Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for these emails and your books, I have them all and they have seriously saved and improved my sessions with my kiddos. Huge thank you."


"I was very frustrated with how speech therapy was going for my child. I would take him and drop him off and not hear much of anything from his therapist and teachers other than, "He had a good (or a bad!) day." Your materials were invaluable for us because I learned how to work with him on his speech. I learned how to teach him to talk and play. I learned how to pay attention to his cues and work with him to teach him to communicate. Without it, I have no doubt he still wouldn’t talk."


"Hi! I just wanted to say (from an SLT perspective) how incredibly useful I am finding absolutely all of your articles, blogs and resources - I only discovered your site last month and have just received all your books which I feel I am learning more than on my entire university training course!! But also the way in which you give specific, realistic, fun, encouraging ideas for working with parents is really just fantastic, I only wish I have your site sooner! Thanks so much from the UK! Kind regards."


"I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for making things a little easier to manage for me this year. I made the transition from school SLP to private therapist about a year ago. While the change was welcome, it was a lot, and I was just getting my footing in the clinic when I began teletherapy full time. Your website has been a huge lifeline in helping me work with late talkers and coach their parents in an accessible but effective way, even remotely. I look forward to getting your emails each week. I am floored by the amount of valuable, free information that your website provides, and I’m looking forward to investing in your workbooks soon. A sincere thank you for all you do!"


"You are an inspiration! I am truly grateful for the way you put into words and writing how to do what we do as SLPs. At this time in my 13 years of practicing, I find your encouragement keeps me going. As a single mom, I find it a stretch to buy materials these days and I am so thankful for the freebies you so generously share that help me teach my families. I don’t have much time to put together lists or quick references for parents!! Much gratitude!!"


"I just really appreciate your courses! I have two new clinicians that I’m working with and have recommended these courses to both of them. I’ve watched quite a few and have learned so much about serving this population. To be honest, before I started implementing your strategies I was a little frustrated with the lack of progress. My skills with engaging these little ones have improved so much! Thank you so much for making these CEUs so valuable!" C, SLP

Laura thank you so much. Btw, you have transformed my therapy- I have become such a competent and strong therapist after watching probably like 350 of your videos and podcasts over the past few years. And I am a seasoned therapist with almost 25 years experience. (Yes prob 350 episodes ha!) But there was still a lot I learned from you. I have such a thorough understanding of birth to 3 development and how to properly incorporate appropriate therapeutic goals, techniques and strategies now, thanks to you. Kelly

But I just keep watching and learning because we can always learn something new! 
Thanks for all you do! 

Hi Laura,I want to thank you so much for the resources you provide, my daughter has delayed speech and though she qualifies for CDS. Honestly the most progress she has made in her speech/language development has been after I implemented your 5 top strategies for delayed talkers! She is now almost 2.5 and her vocabulary is well over 75 (I haven’t counted recently, could be over 100) words when at 2 she barely had four words. Honestly the last few months have been a transformation for her.