1. “Where do you come from?”
This may sound like an innocent, everyday question you could ask anyone, but for bilingual (and/or bi-cultural) children the question can be hurtful and possibly hard to answer. Because, what you are actually saying is “You are not from here, are you?”, and the underlying statement is that the child is a foreigner in the country.
2. “Say something in [insert language]”
Never ask bilingual children to say something in a language just to prove they can. Language is about communication, not about showing off.
3. “You have hardly any accent when you speak [insert language]”
What you are actually saying is “You have an accent.” Children (and adults for that matter) can be very sensitive about their language skills and how they sound. Also, who doesn’t have an accent when they speak – even monolinguals?
4. “How come you don’t speak [insert language] as well as your brother/sister/cousin/friend?”
Never compare children’s language skills. Children learn at different speeds. Also, shy children may come across as less fluent, because they don’t speak as much as other, more talkative children. Not saying anything doesn’t mean not knowing how to say something.