You know that your baby’s speech and language are affected by the words he hears around him during the early years.
That’s why you give him lots of stimulation, such as chatting with him at every opportunity, singing to him and telling him nursery rhymes.
But you may be concerned if your live-in domestic helper doesn’t speak perfect English.
After all, you think to yourself, surely Baby could pick up bad pronunciation and grammar from her?
He may not be talking yet, but you know he’s already started to absorb, think and learn from the stimulation around him.
Chances are, however, that you need not be overly worried about the situation because of “the dilution factor”.
In other words, the negative effect of the less-than-perfect English your baby hears from your helper is diluted by the positive impact of the rich and varied language stimulation that you and your husband provide.
When you spend a reasonable amount of time with your little one at the beginning and end of every day on weekdays, and throughout the weekend, he will pick up the appropriate grammar and pronunciation. You can rest assured his language skills will develop normally.
You can also take additional steps to ensure that his learning is off to a good start, despite the limited English stimulation provided by your helper.
Here are five suggestions:
1. Arrange for resources
Provide quality audio books and nursery rhyme CDs at home and remind your helper to make good use of them.
You could even ask her to incorporate them into your baby’s routine, such as to play a story when he wakes up from his nap.
2. Encourage learning
You could aid your helper in improving her English, for example, by signing up for classes suitable for her level of speech and understanding.
The more she mixes in an English-speaking environment, the more she will progress.
3. Organise activities for them
Sign Baby up for fun classes such as music and gym, and ask your helper to take him there.
Your little one will enjoy these stimulating activities. Both his language skills and the helper’s will steadily improve at the same time, as well.
4. Speak in English with her
You may be fluent in your helper’s mother tongue and you’re tempted to converse in the language. Resist such temptation.
Always speak in English with her, regardless if your baby is present.
Creating the expectation of an English-speaking culture at home is good for everyone, although your helper might struggle
5. Consider alternatives
Despite your efforts to remedy the situation, be prepared to consider enrolling Baby in an infant-care centre if you’re still concerned about the potential negative effect of your helper’s English skills.
That might just save you and your helper stress, while she can also concentrate on household chores.