From potentially bilingual to actually bilingual, wherever your family lives


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

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

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

That is why Bilingual Potential does one thing: we turn potentially bilingual children into actually bilingual children.

We do so by teaching parents the 20x20 seconds method of Bilingual Speech Activation.

Our clients are bilingual families with children. They live all around the world and speak many different language combinations. The 20x20 method works in any language. 

Our clients come to us because their child is struggling to speak one or more of the family's languages. In a Bilingual Speech Activation Consultancy it typically takes about 3 months for the child to spontanously respond in the newly activated language.

Bilingual Speech Activation does not require a huge amount of time and work. The parent learns a specific technique that they only need to use 20 times a day for 20 seconds at any one time. That is why it is called the 20x20 method. 

Once children feel comfortable speaking two languages, we help them reach two native-like languages. The big benchmark on the journey to two native languages is reaching Harmonious Bilingual Development.

How do I know if my child has Harmonious Bilingual Development? You can check it by observing your family conversations against these three criteria: 

1. The child speaks two languages spontaneously.

2. The child speaks two languages almost equally well.

3. The child enjoys speaking the minority language with the parent. 

If this seems like a dream to you, then you have come to the right place. The good news is that this dream is entirely possible within a very reasonable time frame. 

How long does it take to achieve Harmonious Bilingual Development? We can usually achieve Harmonious Bilingual Development for children in 6 months.

Would you like to find out more about Bilingual Speech Activation?

If so, you could email us at soile @ or you could join the Bilingual Fluency mailing list here.


What is Bilingual Potential?

Bilingual Potential is an ethical enterprise that promotes every child's right to learn and use their parents' language(s). For 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 encountered 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

The 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.

Our new online course called Bilingual Fluency opened on 1st September 2020. It is a distance learning version of the Bilingual Speech Activation programme. Course admissions are through a FREE private 30-minute consultation with Soile. Places on the Bilingual Fluency course are limited.