Children's Rights

UNCRC Article 30 protects minority language children



Bilingual Potential is an ethical enterprise that promotes every child's right to learn and use their parents' language(s). For children of language minorities - such as children of families living abroad, children with mixed parentage and children of native ethnic minorities - this often means growing up bilingual. 

Children's right to their family's minority language has been recognised by 195 states in the article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most ratified international treaty of all time.

At Bilingual Potential we believe that children, their families and entire societies benefit when minority language children access their language rights.

With our name we want to draw attention to two aspects of this:

1. Our purpose is to benefit bilingual families, so that their children can grow happily into bilingual adults.

2. Minority language children have the potential to become bilingual - many don't, although with the right support they could.

Our mission is to turn bilingual potential into bilingual reality for minority language children and their families.

Raising bilingual children may turn out to be more challenging than one might have thought to start with. If you have encoutered problems with bilingual parenting, it is not too late. We are here to help.

We belive that the one thing that really matters in bilingual parenting is that the children actually become bilingual.

We help children become bilingual by teaching their parents:

1. What childhood bilingualism really depends on.

2. How to activate their child's speech in two languages.

Even if your child has stopped speaking your language, in many cases that language can be found again. 

Will you join us to turn the bilingual potential of your family into an everyday reality?


Bilingual Potential is a member of Families in Global Transition (FIGT). To read about FIGT in the UK click here

Bilingual Speech Activation Methology

Bilingual Potential is unique because it uses the Bilingual Speech Activation methodology developed by Soile Pietikainen, a sociologist specialised in bilingual family interaction. 

The methodology is based on Soile's 4-year study of natural parent-child interactions of Finnish-English bilingual families in London in 2009-2012. The study was hosted by the Department for Educational Studies at Goldsmths, University of London and funded by the Kone Foundation.

Soile wanted to find out why most children of bilingual families encounter problems with their minority language while a small minority of families achieves Harmonious Bilingual Development. Two questions guided the study:

1. What happens in the minute details of everyday life that makes bilingualism hard for most children?

2. What makes a small number of parents unusually successful with bilingual parenting? 

Soile reasoned, that if she could find the answers to these questions it would be possible to develop an adult learning programme to teach parents the specific skills that make bilingualism easy for their children.

Soile studied school-aged children (5-15) in ordinary bilingual families of the Finnish community in London as they gathered for either Saturday school language classes or for the Sunday mass at the Finnish Church in London. She invited two families from the Saturday school and two families from the parish to become longitudinal case studies of parent-child interaction.

Soile followed each of these four families for two years, visiting them at home to record their conversations, following the children into community activities and sometimes even to their mainstream school.

She interviewed the parents and the children repeatedly to follow their changing experiences. She divised new ways to assess the bilingual children's weaker Finnish language.

She travelled to Finland to study Finnish and immigrant primary school children there to get a point of comparison for the lanaguage of the bilingual children in London.

She analysed community and classroom observations. She Interviewed a group of elderly people about their families long-term bilingual family experiences.

She analysed the talk recordings and compared them to conversation analysis studies on younger children. 

She did find the answers to her two questions.

Based on those answers in 2011 Soile began developing the Bilingual Speech Activation methodology with her private family consultancy clients. The results were startling. Children's fading languages were reactivating very fast.

Typically major improvement became visible in 7-10 days from the parent learning to use the Bilingual Speech Activation skills. In one case the parent emailed back 6 hours after the consultancy session: "He is speaking! Whenever I use the method I can see how his brain is processing."

Today Bilingual Speech Activation is available as a private Bilingual Family Consultancy.

We are also about to open our new online course called Bilingual Fluency. It is a distance learning version of the BIlingual Speech Activation.