Episode 17: Actionable Tips & Strategies to Enhance Language Development with Susanne Dopke

Episode 17

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Susan Dopke, a German speech pathologist currently living in Australia.  During her academic career, Susanne specialized in language acquisition, bilingualism and cross-cultural communication.  Her PhD thesis focused on what parents can do to ensure that their child will become successful in speaking the home language.

Susanne shares many insights from her work with families who wish to raise their children bilingually. She provides many useful strategies to support language at home and lists specific tips that you can implement right away!

Episode #17 Quick Guide

On this episode, Susanne discusses with us:

  • What inspired her to travel and ultimately learn new languages;
  • How she found her way into studying bilingual first language acquisition;
  • How she leveraged what she learned through her research to raise her own children bilingually;
  • How she started working with seminars for family interested in raising bilingual children in 1990 and still does now;
  • A quick summary about the research and how her workshops has impacted the bilingual landscape in Australia;
  • Her suggestions for parents to have helpful attitudes and actions to support the home language;
  • Helpful attitudes
    • Take responsibility for your children’s language learning;
    • Be patient;
    • Make it fun.
  • Helpful actions
    • Be consistent with language;
    • Provide rich language input;
    • Create a need for children to speak the language.
  • How to communicate to children the difference “Mommy words” and “Daddy words” to differentiate between languages for parents using the One Parent, One Language strategy;
  • The importance of playing with your children and how this allows parents to provide the type of input that our children find interesting;
  • How to best respond to your children’s needs to encourage language;
  • Strategies to help young children when struggling with vocabulary and grammar;
  • How languages are managed in her home including the impact multilingual friends have had in her family’s language journey;
  • How to support language needs once they start attending school in the community language;
  • How to support homework while still preserving the home language;
  • How to keep an open communication with your children’s teachers to overcome potential skepticism;
  • The role books can play in language development and how to approach books for each developmental stage;
  • How speaking more than one language provides benefits including enhancing one’s metalinguistc awareness
  • Her best advice for multilingual families:
    • Play with your children and have fun;
    • Ensure that you are providing enough input so that your children can communicate in the target language.

Other resources by Susanne Dopke:


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