Kids Island Nursery
Villa 101, Al Zoubaidi st,
Telephone: +971 4394 2578
It is common, within the UAE, to find children growing up in households where more than one language is spoken on a daily basis. Kid’s Island Nursery in Jumeirah, Dubai, finds that many parents are concerned about how to incorporate additional languages into their children’s lives and whether exposure to additional languages will result in a speech delay for their child.
Sarah Wedel, Speech and Language Therapist from The Developing Child Centre visited Kid’s Island Nursery recently, to guide parents regarding their individual language concerns. She shared that the first three years are an important time for learning as a child’s brain develops quickly. Exposing children to languages during this time is vital, as children have a natural ability to learn and this ability evolves throughout their lives. Sarah emphasized that during these formative years. learning a second language is as easy as learning a first.
During the workshop at Kid’s Island Nursery in Dubai, Sarah provided the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from parents:
Will learning more than one language make my child talk later than others?
Bilingualism does not cause language delay. Your child should talk at the same time as children learning one language.
Will it be difficult for my child to learn more than one language?
Children can start learning more than one language from birth.
I speak more than one language. Which one should I use when talking with my child?
Parents should use their strongest language because children need to hear a good language model that is correct and fluent. Don’t worry if the languages mix when talking to your child. It is natural for people who speak more than one language to do this and your child will eventually learn that the two languages are different
Is it important for my child to learn English before starting nursery or school?
It is important that your child develops their skills in their home language before they start school regardless of the language. Once your child knows how to use one language, they can usually learn another language very quickly.
How can I help my child to learn our home language?
Regular exposure to language is vital. Talk and play with your child throughout the day. Sing nursery rhymes and songs in your home language as children learn best through play. If they see you enjoying the experience, they will be more open to the learning experience. Another great way to share your home language is through books. Read to your child and encourage them to repeat words and sounds as you enjoy your special time together.
My child is mixing up the languages he is learning – do other children do this?
All children learning more than one language will mix two languages sometimes.
This is a natural stage of bilingual language development. Children will work out the
different vocabulary and rules of the two languages with time.
My child has started nursery and has begun using English instead of our home language. Why?
Children will speak the languages they hear most. If they attend an English speaking school, they are likely to adapt and defer to English, even at home. Parents should continue to speak to their child in their home language. A bilingual child may not develop all the languages at the same speed or level as the monolingual child, but this can be for different reasons.
As a parent of a bilingual child, Agathe Jameson, Principal of Kid’s Island Nursery in Dubai, encourages parents to continue to use their primary language to ensure that their child is being exposed to the nuances of the language. Parents are encouraged to read to their child and help them to learn words so they can start building a bridge between the languages. The constant exposure to the languages will ensure that the neural pathways are being laid for their language learning journey.
Kid’s Island Nursery is a pre-school in Dubai which offers a progressive, nature based eco-friendly British curriculum. Children’s natural curiosity is encouraged and learning is taken from the classroom into the outdoor. Outdoor play areas, mud kitchens, sensory rooms, wood furniture and eco textures are featured throughout the Nursery in Jumeirah which has been established for more than 28 years.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development please contact a Speech and Language Therapist at The Developing Child Centre www.tdcc.ae or call 043011900.