Helpful Hints

Top tips to help you support bilingual children in your setting

Ways to support bilingual children 

  • Make sure you can pronounce their name correctly.
  • Find out how much they understand the languages spoken at home.
  • Give them plenty of listening time. Remember, children usually go through a silent period before they are ready to speak, so make sure you keep talking even when they do not respond.
  • Use their home language as much as possible, especially when they first arrive and are settling in.
  • If they are at the early stages of learning English, encourage the use of non-verbal responses.
  • Praise them for any attempts to communicate.
  • Limit your questions.
  • Use plenty of visuals (gestures, pictures, real objects, visual timetable) to help their understanding.
  • Demonstrate your instructions alongside the words you are using.
  • Repeat and emphasise key words.
  • Model language while playing next to them and comment on their play.
  • Tell repetitive stories and play games that involve repetition of language.
  • Allow time for them to respond (10 second rule).
  • Keep records of their progress to share with parents and colleagues.
  • Advise parents to speak their first language at home. This will support their child's developing English language skills.
  • Invite parents to share books, songs, pictures, toys, traditional costumes and food from their own cultures.

Remember - children are natural linguists. 

How we can help

  • Advice and guidance to practitioners working with early years children in nurseries, pre-schools, childminder settings, children's centres and reception classes
  • Training to promote bilingualism and share a range of strategies to support young children new to English language.
  • Workshops for bilingual families in Children's Centres where parents can find out the importance of first language when their child is learning English.
  • Courses are available via CPD Online


For further information, please contact Monika Pardo