Raising Bilingual Kids & Little Global Citizens

Language Development, Speech Therapy

15 Activities To Encourage Speech & Language Development

Speech Activities for Language Development Outside

Speech & Language Activities To Do With Kids on Daily Outings

There are lots of different activities to do with kids to help their speech and language development.

Here we provide 15 speech and language activities for kids to turn trips to everyday places into a learning opportunity for your child.

Speech and Language Development in Bilingual Kids

For children, making connections to language in their many environments broadens and deepens their language skills, especially with their vocabulary.

Bilingual children in particular who have speech and language disorders may need more help to make these connections and to practice with communication skills.

More practice might include hearing more examples of specific linguistic elements or it might mean getting more opportunities to use those elements in conversation.

In any environment, one way to promote these connections is to use bridging. The concept of bridging means explicitly talking about ways to say something in both languages.

One example is if you are using a One Parent, One Language (OPOL) language strategy in your family, you can talk about how one parent might say something compared to the other.

You might ask how a teacher would say something compared to a parent.

These are opportunities to facilitate your child’s ability to think about language.

15 Activities To Encourage Speech & Language Development

Below you can find list of ways to build your child’s speech and language skills outside of your home.

Communication opportunities are everywhere in your community, so working on speech and language can occur in any place at any time!

This list is just a few suggestions of language development activities for how to incorporate language learning opportunities in everyday places, in particular for bilingual children.

Language Development Activities for Kids – Getting ready to go

1. Talk with your child about the routine of getting ready to go out. This might involve finding shoes, putting on socks, zipping up a coat, or gathering items for your trip. You can do this routine in both languages on different days.

2. If you’re headed to the store, make a list of things that you might need to buy. If you’re headed to the library, make a list of the books your child might want to find. You can connect to your child’s writing development by making a list in one or both languages.

3. Talk to your child in both languages about who else is coming with you on your outing or who you are planning to see on your outing. You can also have your child bring along one or two toys to keep them company. You can talk about what languages the people you will see speak. Some families even choose to have a specific toy speak the home language to reinforce that language.

Language Development Activities for Kids – In the car/On the way

4. As you are going between locations, give your child directions about how to get to your destination in both languages.

5. Do you pass something interesting on the way to your destination? Talk about it before you get there, as you pass, and after you’ve gone by. This promotes the development of language out of context and naming things that are no longer immediately in front of your child. You can use both languages to name objects. Notice the language of signs on the road.

6. Look at the other cars passing you on the road. Describe them in both languages using descriptors of size, shape, or color, and talk about how they function if they are work vehicles (ex: ambulances, dump trucks, fire engines).

7. If you use public transportation, you can talk to your child about how you are getting there and what you see on the way. Looking at a subway or bus map can help to increase your child’s vocabulary about their neighborhood. If you encounter people who speak your child’s language on the way, you can greet them in the language to reinforce social communication.

Language Development Activities for Kids – At the park

8. Encourage your child to request different activities. Teach phrases like “I want to play on the slide” or “Yo quiero jugar en el tobogán!” Dedicate certain playground activities for one language, and a different set of activities for the other language.

9. Narrate your child’s play activities in either language (ex: ”Look at you, you are swinging on the red swings!”).

10. Play an interactive game, like I Spy, encourage your child to describe the things around them using specific attributes (color, size, shape). You can play this game in any language and even mix languages while playing!

11. If you know of a specific speech sound that your child is working on, look for objects that use that speech sound. Give your child an opportunity to practice the sound outside of the speech room.

Language Development Activities for Kids – At the grocery store

12. Talk about the meals you plan to make. What ingredients are required? Are there multiple languages on the packaging? If you see a sign for “bananas” in the store, ask your child how to say it in another language. 

13. Engage your child in assisting in finding the ingredients. Ask questions like, “Is it hot or cold?”, “Will it be in the refrigerator or on the aisle?””Should we look in the fruits or vegetables?”

Language Development Activities for Kids – Coming back home

14. Talk about all the things you did on your trip out. Ask your child what their favorite part was.

15. Talk about the future! Ask them where they want to go next time and make plans for things you will do that are the same or different.

Language Activities

Hopefully these language activities for kids have given you some inspiration on things to do with your kids at home. Let us know of any other language development activities for kids you do, or any speech activities you find helpful.

Author: Claire Wofford, Ph.D, CCC-SLP and Caitlyn White, B.S.

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Speech Activities for Language Development Out

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