Pitfalls for bilingual families and how to avoid them

If you are like most bilingual parents, you have set out on this journey and are hoping to avoid the most common pitfalls for bilingual families!
On this consulting call, I chat with Laura & Abner Solano about their language journey.  We discuss some of my favorite podcasts, some ideas for learning targets for bilingual kids and how to avoid the most common pitfalls for bilingual families.
The Question
What  are some  of your favorite podcasts to listen to that inspire you? Not necessarily about bilingual parenting…. do  you listen to any in Spanish? or about education?
The answer
 I do love podcasts! Surprise, surprise, right? In fact, I actually listen to podcasts far more than I listen to the radio.

Educational Podcast

My favorite educational podcast is the Read Aloud Revival. It is full of wonderful conversations with children’s authors and around making connections with your kids through healthy read aloud habits.

Fun Podcast

Personally, I have found myself becoming a big fan of storytelling podcasts and so I really enjoy shows by the podcast producing company called Gimlet Media. Each podcast episode is highly produced and they are a really fun listen. They currently have a long line of shows including Startup, Heavyweight, Reply All, Science Versus, Homecoming, Crime Town and several others.

Tech Podcast

Last but most certainly not least, I really enjoy the Membership Guys Podcast. I am always looking for tips and inspiration on how to make the Bilingual Avenue Members’ Club better and this podcast is all about it. It is targeted for membership site owners and so it is particularly helpful with the techy side of running a membership.

The Question
I love the speech milestone chart that you’ve shared with us before. Are there other targets by age that we should be shooting for with our kids academically after first grade?
How can we keep them challenged  and continue working on their Spanish outside school hours?
The answer
We spend a lot focusing on language with our little ones because so much happens with their speech in those early years.  In fact, if you want some general guidelines on what to expect in regards to speech and language from birth to five, you can get your hands on a free milestones checklist here that is super handy for bilingual families.
Yet we also need to focus on those later years as we add more depth to their vocabulary.
On the podcast we cover what you can expect for children ages 5-7, 7-9, and beyond.  Make sure to listen in to get the breakdown.
I also shared a tool with Abner & Laura that can also be helpful for your family.  In the United States, we use the Common Core Standards in most states.  They are an academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy.  These are available for children in K-12.
These standards can serve as a guide as to what to expect kids to achieve by the end of each school year.  Do keep in mind that these are just a guideline so do not fret too much if your child is not exactly on track!
The Question
Our  kids are still pretty young, but we want to be intentional about their bilingual progress. During your research/interviews with parents with older children, what are some pitfalls that families fall into at different ages? What can we  do now to prepare to avoid them?
The answer
There are several pitfalls for bilingual families that can be particularly tricky.  Most of these can be overcome as long as there is a good plan in place and we as parents take action.
In my time working in this space, these are the top three pitfalls for bilingual families that I see come up time and time again!

Exposure & Need

Exposure and need are critical for bilingual families.  We must keep up with our children’s growing vocabulary needs.  It is important that we continue to expose them to the target language so that they can acquire the language and ultimately use it.

We also have to create a need for them to use the language.  Expectations have to be set and we as parents have to follow through with these expectations.  Creating a need is the most difficult of the two but is just as important as exposure.


The issue of homework tends to trip up most bilingual families.  Many are conflicted on what language to use when talking, helping and assisting with school assignments.  Should they stick to the target language?  Should the use the language of the school?  Each choice has pros and cons.  My recommendation for parents is to develop a plan and implement it.  You can still make tweaks based on how everyone is reacting but make sure to plan ahead so it does not catch you off guard.

How about you?  I would love to know if you have also come across these or other pitfalls for bilingual families!


Most bilingual families will often say that they have an easier time getting their hands on resources geared towards little ones that are fun and engaging.

However, as their kids get older it becomes more difficult to find tools that are also suitable for older children.  My advice is to plan ahead and be on the lookout for things that will appeal to your child’s interest.


Laura & Abner hopped on the Autobahn and answered a few questions to help other families on their language journey:

What is your favorite resource for supplementing Spanish in your home?

Raz-kids.com – an award-winning teaching product that provides comprehensive leveled reading resources for students.

What is the best advice you have received as a bilingual parent?

To listen to the Bilingual Avenue podcast! : )

What is one children’s book in Spanish that you recommend to other parents?

El Loro Tico Tango by Anna Witte

Vamos a cazar un oso by Micheal Rosen & Helen Oxenbury


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