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What to expect


What is bilingualism?

Bilingualism is defined as the ability to speak two or more languages.

What problems caused by bilingualism can speech and language therapy help with?

Some children who are raised in bilingual environments may have delayed language acquisition compared to monolingual children (children who only speak one language).

Difficulties experienced by some bilingual children which speech and language therapy can help with include:

  • Language delay and impairment
  • Abnormal language development
    • Difficulty retrieving words
    • phases of not talking
    • Lack of normal milestones for language acquisition.
  • Making errors in English as a direct influence of their first language, e.g. different rules of grammar within that language.
  • Code switching, using more than one language in conversation.
  • Language loss

What causes problems associated with bilingualism in children?

There is no evidence that bilingual children learn to speak later than monolingual children. However, if there is language delay, impairment or abnormal language development in a bilingual home environment, this can be due to a variety of reasons.

It will be easier for the child if the languages they are learning are separated e.g. for situation, person and place. Parents speaking more than one language should use these languages separately. If more than one language is used in one conversation, this may lead to language difficulties for the child.

How does speech and language therapy help bilingualism in children?

Speech and language therapists can help bilingual children who have language delay / impairment by helping to increase and support:

  • Language expression.
  • Language function. Language production.
  • Comprehension of languages.

The speech and language therapist will provide an individualised treatment programme for the child and their family. Each treatment programme will be age appropriate and tailored to the child's specific needs and abilities.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for bilingualism in children involve?

Treatment from a speech and language therapist may be required if a child is failing to develop in one or more of their languages at the expected rate and also if it is affecting their performance at school.

Our speech and language therapists will carry out a full assessment to determine whether a child has a speech or language difficulty. An assessment will include:

  • A discussion with the parents about their child's difficulties and any concerns they may have.
  • A questionnaire on how many languages are used at home, and also when and how much these languages are used.
  • A general observation of your child's speech and language skills through an informal conversation or play.
  • A detailed assessment of your child's language, across all languages where possible.

An assessment will give the speech and language therapist an insight into whether there is a difficulty in learning both languages, or whether the difficulty is learning English as a second language.

The speech and language therapist will create an individualised treatment plan which will be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of the child.

Speech and language therapy treatment can take place in a variety of settings, depending on your preference, including:

Treatment at speech and language therapy may also involve:

Specific treatment for language delay or impairment in bilingual children may include:

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for bilingualism?

To arrange an assessment with one our speech and language therapists please call 0330 0885 643.


Bilingualism is defined as the ability to speak two or more languages. Some children learning more than one language can experience delays in the acquisition of one (or more than one) of their languages. The speech and language therapist will assess and treat children with language delay and provide support and advice in helping to achieve age appropriate language. If you feel you and your child may benefit from speech and language therapy please email or call 0330 0885 643.

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Next steps

To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email


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All our speech and language therapists are registered with the RCSLT and the HCPC

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