BCHC staff with child and parent image


Children's Speech and Language Therapy


Specialist support to children (0-19) with a range of specific speech, language and communication difficulties and those with difficulties swallowing, eating and drinking.

SLT: bilingualism

Speaking more than one language

Birmingham is a vibrant and diverse city made up of people and families with connections around the globe. The ability to understand and use two or more languages is also referred to as Bilingualism/ Multilingualism.


Multilingualism is common all over the world, more so than only speaking just one language. Birmingham’s Speech and Language Therapy service values multilingualism and the positive advantages of using your home language with children.  


We know that some children may have difficulties with learning to talk and communicate, however the research tells us that bilingualism does not cause or contribute to speech, language or communication difficulties. Bilingual children can have speech and language difficulties just like children who speak only one language.


Learning a new language is a complex and lengthy process. It can be common for young children to experience a ‘silent period’, usually when they first start in a nursery or school where their home language is not used. This may involve them not speaking at all in this environment to begin with and can last up to 6 months. Don’t worry, your child is listening and learning a new language during this time. However, we would expect that your child would still be using their home language in familiar environments, so please contact the service if you are concerned that this is not happening.


General advice:

  • Speak to your child in the language you feel most comfortable with, this will help your child to learn more about language
  • Sing songs, enjoy nursery rhymes and tell stories in your home language
  • It is important for your child to learn about their home language, culture and traditions particularly so that they can communicate with other family members who may not speak English
  • The strategies we suggest to support language development will work in any language, please see links on the following pages for more information - language development in the early years and DLD/language difficulties in older children


The following resources give further information and ideas around the benefits of speaking more than one language:

Our patients and their carers and families are the reason we're here, so we want to hear your views about the Trust and our services.