Episode 89: Tips and tricks to foster language development from birth to four years old with Nicola Lathey

Tips and tricks to foster language development

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Nicola Lathey, one of the top speech and language therapists in the United Kingdom.  She is the author of the prize‐winning and best-selling book, Small Talk.  We talk about how parents can promote language development with their children from birth to four years old.  Nicola shares excellent strategies that parents can implement right away in their daily interactions with their children.

Episode #89 Quick Guide

Nicola discusses with us:

  • Her career as a speech and language therapist;
  • A bit about her book, Small Talk, which is filled with tips and tricks to help your child’s language improve from birth to four years old;
  • How her book provides great ideas on how to boost your child’s language skills in the early years;
  • The natural progression of speech and language development starting from gaining eye contact and the steps towards blabbing all the way to teaching children how to tell jokes;
  • How the book breaks down what you should expect for each stage of your child’s development;
  • The importance and impact the communication environment that we develop in the home can have on our child’s language activities;
  • The strategy “Say What you See” where the adult looks at what the child is doing and thinks about what the child may be thinking and provides words to match the child’s thoughts;
  • How early we can start establishing a communication environment with our little ones and how it unfolds in those early months;
  • How fun playing in front of mirror can be for young babies and how it can encourage them to start experimenting with their voice;
  • That language does not start with the first word but rather significantly before that when babies starts experimenting with sounds;
  • How important it is to find things that motivate toddlers when we are trying to encourage their communication;
  • That you can tie in simple words into your activities to expose your child to words that they can internalize and repeat;
  • A recommended game, Frog in a Box, for toddlers;
  • That a child needs to hear a word approximately 500 times within its context so that they can incorporate it into their vocabulary;
  • A recommendation to 1) spend at least ten minutes a day of undivided attention with your child to talk and play with them and 2) read a daily bedtime story;
  • A strategy called “Copy and Add” where the adult copies what the child is saying and adds another word to expand on the child’s vocabulary;
  • The fact that preschoolers love to tell stories and how helpful it can be to provide them with a framework to tell stories by including the words “First,“ “Then” and “Last;”
  • The value of teaching your child a second (or more!) languages and the privilege it can provide for your little ones;
  • Her advice to be in tune with your child, think about what they are thinking and provide them with an age appropriate model, to motivate them to communicate.


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  1. Pingback: What every parent ought to know about motivating their bilingual children | Bilingual Avenue

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