How Do You Communicate with a Child Who Can’t Speak English?

By Heidi

Heidi Says …

Gracie was only four months old when we brought her home from Vietnam; Ian was 8 months old. Neither of them was speaking any words yet. Adopting a baby makes this question a bit of a non-issue.

However, if you adopt a child that is already verbal – toddler and older – then you are going to have to make some effort to communicate for the first little bit.

When we adopted my brothers in 1985, they were 5 and 7 years old. One thing that was nice about adopting brothers was that they had each other and were able to at least communicate with someone. I remember watching them sit on the floor together, playing with matchbox cars and having a little conversation in Korean with each other. It was so cute!

Someone had given my mom a list of commonly used Korean words (such as food, drink, bathroom, etc.). Using that list, we were able to communicate very basic needs with them. We also used a lot of hand gestures!

One thing that was suggested is to talk to them in English a lot. It’s very easy for a child to …read more

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