I am living with my brother, his wife, and their one year old daughter (my niece). They are attempting to raise their daughter bilingual in two languages, Language A and Language B. Language A is the local language, and all of us adults in the home are native speakers of that language. My brother and his wife are advanced near-fluent speakers of Language B, and I am a beginner in Language B. I am an advanced speaker of Language C, which neither of them speak. The languages all belong to different language groups and are not mutually intelligible.

Can I learn Language B alongside my niece? Have there ever been any studies on children and adults learning a language together? Are there any best practices?

I am currently learning using books and videos and making attempts to speak to my niece using both languages (saying something in Language A, then immediately translating it into Language B for her to the best that I am able). She is still in the single word language stage, but is picking up words from both languages (and preferring one or the other for different ideas).

Part of me thinks that I should just learn the language like any other adult, and things will develop naturally, while another part of me says that I should concentrate on learning vocabulary relevant to her and with her, possibly becoming a high beginner or mid-intermediate speaker who is more comfortable talking about sparkle pastel glitter ponies and princess dress-up than politics.

  • I don't know of language-learning strategies that teach you how to talk about politics before learning words like 'eat', 'go', 'talk', 'learn', 'feel', 'house', etc.! She won't talk about politics, you won't talk about ponies, but all the most common words will be important for both of you. And you won't jump ahead to using complex tenses before you learn the basics either. I don't know of studies (or I'd make an answer), but anecdotally have taught all ages I think you'll be fine. The main difference is that you'll be more receptive to explicit grammar and she to what is implicit in examples. Apr 8, 2018 at 0:18
  • @Luke I'm more thinking about techniques and whether there are known strategies, for example by doing (or trying to do) exercises together, watching videos together, etc.
    – Robert Columbia
    Apr 8, 2018 at 1:16
  • 1
    A very important point when learning anything is motivation. Since learning a language with a child may help you both to keep motivated, it's worth trying.
    – Pere
    Jan 30, 2019 at 23:10

2 Answers 2


Children can easily remember whatever you say them. And the same words they reply when you ask. Practice with children might be an option for vocabulary improvement but not the better practice source. The complex words she may not talk with you, talking with children help to build basic & regular using words.


I’m currently teaching myself Spanish and there are many resources (songs, books, etc) that are made for children in both Spanish and English.

The Spanish children songs are good teaching tools as they are literally meant for the children who do not know the language. This works for me as they can break down vocabulary in little jingles.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.