Do Bilingual Toddlers Speak Later? What to Expect and How to Encourage Progress

Do Bilingual Toddlers Speak Later? What to Expect and How to Encourage Progress

Posted on February 20th, 2023.

Bilingualism adds a fascinating layer to a child's linguistic journey, but it often raises questions about speech development. 

"Do bilingual toddlers speak later?" is a common concern among parents. 

In this blog post, we'll explore this question and provide insights into what to expect and how to encourage progress for bilingual toddlers.

What to Expect from Bilingual Speech Development

Speech development in bilingual children follows a unique trajectory influenced by various factors such as language exposure, language dominance, and cultural context. While bilingualism offers numerous cognitive benefits, it's essential for parents to understand what to expect regarding their child's speech development. Let's explore some common aspects of speech development in bilingual children.

Language Mixing or Code-Switching

Bilingual children may mix words or phrases from different languages within the same sentence, known as code-switching. This is a natural part of bilingualism and demonstrates their ability to navigate between languages seamlessly.

Different Rates of Language Acquisition

Bilingual toddlers may acquire each language at different rates. It's not uncommon for a child to be more proficient in one language initially before achieving balance in proficiency between both languages.

Influence of Language Dominance

Language dominance refers to a child's preference or proficiency in one language over the other. This can fluctuate over time and may influence speech patterns and vocabulary usage.

Cultural Influence on Language Use

Cultural context plays a significant role in bilingual speech development. Children may use different languages in various social settings or with different family members, reflecting cultural norms and identity.

Now that we've discussed what to expect from bilingual speech development, let's delve into the factors that influence how children acquire and progress in their language skills.

Factors Influencing Speech Development

Several key factors influence the trajectory of speech development in bilingual children, including:

  • Language Exposure: The amount of exposure to each language plays a crucial role in language proficiency.
  • Consistency: Consistent exposure to both languages facilitates language learning and development.
  • Language Dominance: Toddlers may show a preference for one language over the other, affecting their speech patterns.

Understanding these factors is essential for parents and caregivers to provide effective support and guidance throughout their child's linguistic journey.

Strategies to Support Bilingual Speech Development

Navigating the complexities of bilingual speech development can be both exciting and challenging for parents. In this section, we'll explore practical strategies to support your child's linguistic journey and foster proficiency in both languages. From providing consistent language exposure to embracing cultural diversity, these strategies are designed to empower parents in nurturing their child's bilingual communication skills. Let's delve into effective approaches for promoting bilingual speech development and maximizing your child's linguistic potential.

1. Provide Consistent Language Exposure

Consistency is key to supporting bilingual speech development. Ensure that your child receives regular exposure to both languages through interactions with family members, books, songs, and educational activities.

2. Foster a Language-Rich Environment

Create a language-rich environment at home by surrounding your child with books, toys, and media in both languages. Encourage conversations, storytelling, and language-based games to enhance language skills.

3. Encourage Code-Switching

Encourage your child to code-switch between languages as they communicate. Code-switching is a natural part of bilingualism and helps children develop flexibility and proficiency in both languages.

4. Seek Bilingual Speech Therapy

If your child shows signs of speech delay and you want your child to be bilingual, it's crucial to seek speech therapy conducted in both languages. A bilingual speech therapist can provide targeted interventions and support tailored to your child's linguistic needs.

5. Embrace Cultural Diversity

Expose your child to diverse cultural experiences associated with each language. Celebrate cultural holidays, traditions, and customs to foster pride and appreciation for both linguistic backgrounds.

Our Bilingual Approach to Speech Delay

At Dempster Therapeutic Services, we understand the unique needs of bilingual children facing speech delays. Our team is led by Andrzej Lewandowski, a highly skilled Polish-speaking logopedic with extensive experience in bilingual speech therapy.

Tailored Interventions in Both Languages

We recognize the importance of providing therapy in both languages to address speech delays effectively. Our bilingual approach ensures that children receive targeted interventions tailored to their specific linguistic needs in both their primary and secondary languages.

Cultural Sensitivity and Understanding

Our therapists are culturally sensitive and strive to create a supportive environment where children feel comfortable expressing themselves in both languages. We understand the cultural nuances that may impact speech development and incorporate cultural understanding into our therapy sessions.

Collaboration with Families

We believe in the importance of collaboration between therapists, families, and other professionals involved in a child's care. We work closely with families to develop individualized treatment plans and provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the therapy process.

Holistic Approach to Communication

Our bilingual approach extends beyond speech therapy to encompass all aspects of communication, including language comprehension, social interaction, and pragmatic skills. We aim to foster holistic communication development in both languages to help children thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Related: 7 Inspiring Speech Delay Success Stories of Bilingual Kids


Understanding the nuances of bilingual speech development is essential for supporting your child's linguistic journey. By providing consistent language exposure, seeking bilingual speech therapy, and fostering a language-rich environment, you can encourage progress and proficiency in both languages.

At Dempster Therapeutic Services, we specialize in bilingual speech therapy for children. Our experienced team of bilingual speech therapists is dedicated to supporting your child's speech and language development journey. 

Schedule a Free Discovery Call today to learn more about how we can help your child thrive in both languages. 

For enquiries, contact us at (847) 999-3990 or email [email protected]. Let's unlock your child's bilingual potential together!

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