What we do
Within the Little linguist project we run several local activities in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, aimed at supporting early language development in very young children.
Bilingual Baby club is one of them. It is a local club where we meet weekly, put together local bilingual communities, provide free advice, tips and teach parents how to support their children’s bilingualism, cultural heritage and identities.
Most of our current members are from Polish, Czech or Slovak communities but we of course welcome members of bilingual families from any cultural and language background.
The idea to run the club was born a few years ago, after we have seen an ever increasing number of Brits wanting to learn a foreign language for family reasons.
The typical scenario was a student who would want to start learning Czech or Slovak, Polish or Russian, (but also Greek or Italian) because their partner was a foreigner and they either had, or were planning a new family. The students were mostly concerned about not to be able to speak to their children once these would learn their mother tongue.
The next step we have observed, was that after the initial efforts these families often slowly give up on their children’s second language and start using English only. As a result, they bring up children who could have been bilingual but are not, because of the lack of knowledge of their parents not of the actual language, but of how to bring them up bilingually.
The children themselves then, as adults (as we see with many Cypriot Greeks for example) come to us and want to be taught their parents’ language, feeling frustrated about having a strong heritage and relatives in another country but not being able to connect with them, to communicate and fully embrace their second culture. Of course at that age they have to be taught what should have been their mother tongue as a second language, which obviously involves a lot of effort, patience, often slow progress and a huge amount of frustration.
And we thought something can be done about this…
How it works
The Bilingual baby club, as a part of the Little Linguist project, is aimed at teaching parents how to educate and support their childrens’ bilingualism, rather than just teaching them their partners foreign language. Even in a mixed family, where, as an example, the mother is Czech and father British, it is not necessary that both parents should be fluent in both languages in order to bring their children bilingually. But they both need to know what to do to facilitate this for their kids.
And this is where we come in.
The bilingual baby club is a local activity for new parents in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and runs weekly in one of our London Language Studio premises near Henley-on-Thames.
We offer free 1hr sessions for expecting mums and parents with babies. In a very informal but structured way we introduce them to a variety of activities they can use with their children to stimulate their early bilingual language development.
We work and practise together but at the same time provide the parents with invaluable practical skills that will enable them to work with their children alone, and independently. It is very important that this is done at the earliest age possible, before babies become toddlers and start to talk.
To find out more about how you can join the Bilingual baby club please get in touch directly with the London Language Studio founder, Alena Sunavska.