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Ds (3) not talking at nursery / bilingualism

(8 Posts)
seamew Mon 15-Dec-14 15:49:24

Just that, really. Would love some advice, especially from anyone with experience of bilingual children.

I am English, and DH is from another country. I speak English to him, DH speaks his language, and when we are all together we speak English. At nursery, however, he either doesn't speak at all or only speaks in his second language. I know he understands them, as he often repeats things they have clearly said there. Nursery are worried about this, saying that he's behind on his trackers, and are also concerned that he's not potty trained (just turned 3 last week). I know he's a bit behind on this - we did start over summer, but he became very resistant, and I didn't want to push it. He will sometimes ask to use the potty/toilet unsolicited, so I'm not worried - I was thinking of starting to encourage him more actively again in the New Yewar.

Anyway, what I wanted to ask is, should I be worried? He's been going to the same nursery since he was 9mos. He's always seemed happy there, talks about the other children and carers, sometimes literally skips in. He was moved up to a bigger group in September and recently has started asking to be with the babies (not even his most recent group!), so I wondered if he was feeling under a bit of pressure to be older. The second language thing has been going on for longer than that though.

Does anyone have any advice? I wasn't that anxious about it, but the nursery brought it up again today and they seem very worried, which was worried me.

Strictlyison Mon 15-Dec-14 16:24:40

I think that the second language should not be an issue - but expressive language at nursery in general is something to worry about. Some children can be intimidated when there are lots of children around and will be quiet, could you ask the nursery to try and have him play with one particular friend in a quiet corner and see how he gets on? Have they tried a bit of one-to-one playtime, maybe 10 minutes a day with his key worker? If they come up with issues, they should also try to come up with support and/or solution.

Do you feel that his language skills are on track at home?

How many days a week is he in nursery?

ppeatfruit Mon 15-Dec-14 16:27:38

It's normal fgs, the nursery should look at their child development books!! some children speak later than 3 or earlier (even if they speak one language at home!!!!) it happens and you won't be able to shut him up !!!!

I speak as an ex EY teacher, nanny\minder and M of 3.

Strictlyison Mon 15-Dec-14 16:39:18

There is a very good language tracker on this website :

And also lots of resources. There's a lot you can do at home to help with language development. Some people here might disagree with me, and say that it's the second language which is causing issues, but I think personally (and after some research, both my children are also in a bilingual environment) that some children exposed to both languages will develop their language skills a bit later, but having two languages is not the cause of severe speech and language delays/disorders. If they are using a language tracker, there are always some extra allowance for bilingual children.

I was trained on a project (now cut, like so many gov't projects) called Every Child a Talker - some very interesting information is still available online, including lots of tips for parents and child minders:

themagicamulet Mon 15-Dec-14 17:07:51

How is his English at home? Is he putting sentences together? How about his second language - does your DH feel that's developing normally? As he's been exposed to English from birth and been in an English-speaking setting since 9mos I think it's less likely to be a bilingual 'silent period, which sometimes happens when bilingual children first move to an English speaking setting.

How are his attention, play and social interaction coming along? - you mentioned the nursery thought he might be behind on a few things (altho the toilet training seems fine to me!)

I wouldn't be too worried but I'd consider getting a referral to speech and language therapy - they'll look at all of that and ask you about his general development. In the meantime avoiding pressure to speak and involving him in activities and games which don't require verbal input to participate can be good ways for the nursery to work with him. Focusing on trying to get him to speak can be very counter-productive.

themagicamulet Mon 15-Dec-14 17:10:31

also strictly's right - being bilingual is a fantastic benefit, not a cause of speech and language delays.

seamew Mon 15-Dec-14 20:31:56

Great, so many replies, thank you!

At home his English is absolutely fine - he talks ALL the time, in fact. Full sentences, first correct (rather than random) use of past tense today. I think his second language is also ok, perhaps a bit less developed but certainly coming along.

He is in nursery four days a week. There's quite a lot of imaginative play at home, lots of pretend cooking and social interactions between the dinosaurs, soft toys etc.

I think that the people who suggested it might be a social thing (sorry on phone, can't check who!) might be right. His social interaction with other children is not very good at all. (Completely fine with adults though, even ones he doesn't know well.) He won't speak to them directly, doesn't like if they touch him or get too close to him. He used to like running around with his best nursery friend, but now he seems much more anxious about that ans only wants to sit with me. He was also very rude to another little boy when we were arriving at nursery today and said very loudly (when I suggested he say hello) 'I don't want X to be my friend.' I really didn't like that, and think his refusal to acknowledge anyone at nursery very rude, so I was going to try and push him a bit on that - but it sounds like that might be counterproductive?

themagicamulet Tue 16-Dec-14 19:11:03

It sounds as though language itself isn't an issue, which is great. Developmentally he's still very young to understand that things he says or does can have an effect on others - that's why it's so hard to teach little ones what we think of as 'good manners'!. Reading stories together about children playing together at school/nursery and talking about them might be helpful.

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