Dr Joanna Kołak - psychologist, expert on multilingualism and the influence of the digital media on children.

My clients say that my expertise is a remedy for the stress and confusion that often accompanies raising bilingual children.

My name is Joanna, I am a psychologist, researcher and lecturer. I live in the UK.

For over eight years, I have been helping bilingual and multilingual families from around the world face everyday challenges and dispel doubts:

  • Which multilingual upbringing strategy to choose? Who is talking to whom, where and when?
  • Is it better to introduce all languages in the child’s environment at once or one at a time?
  • How to encourage the child to speak the language if they are reluctant to use it?

How do I help the parents?

I wrote a book for parents and professionals called ‘Bilingual and multilingual development. 50 questions and answers’. It is bilingual development and its support in a nutshell – in the book I combine my experience from over ten years of scientific work with my experience from over eight years of working with families.

I also support parents by offering individual online consultations (in English and Polish).

  • I help them plan a bilingual upbringing (‘Should we speak to the child in the language of the preschool/school to make it easier for them to settle in?’).
  • I explain which phenomena in the development of bilingual children are the norm and where do they come from (‘Should we worry about frequent mixing of languages by our child?).
  • I advise how to support bilingual development in a natural way (‘What should I do when my child responds to me in a different language?’).

Why did I decide to do research on child bilingualism?

My passion for bilingualism was born during my studies. At that time, I coordinated the first extensive research on Polish-English children in the UK and Ireland. This inspired me to move to London, where I initially worked supporting the language development of bilingual children with autism spectrum disorder.

Since 2012, I have collaborated on over ten scientific projects on monolingual and bilingual development. As part of my PhD studies, I investigated the linguistic and cognitive development of Polish-English bilingual children in the UK and Ireland. I also analysed the challenges and problems faced by their parents. I wanted to find out what knowledge and support they lacked.

This inspired me to start running webinars for parents of bilingual children with practical tips on supporting languages development.

I translate research results into practice

I have been working at English universities for seven years, currently at UCL’s Institute of Education (formerly at University of Salford and University of Manchester). I have extensive research experience; here is a link to my scientific articles. I am up to date with the latest research on child bilingualism, conducted by the world’s largest research centres. I translate the research results into recommendations and tips for parents of bilingual children and specialists (speech therapists, psychologists).

For several years, I have also been researching the development of children in the world of digital media. I am looking for answers to questions that parents ask.

  • How do the media affect children’s development?
  • How do children learn from the media?
  • How to introduce them safely to the digital world?

During consultations, parents often touch upon the media issues and I am glad that I am able to provide them with comprehensive support in this area.

My goal is to make sure that bilingual families have access to reliable knowledge and support.

That is why I translate the scientific knowledge and experience which I gained working with bilingual families into an accessible language and bring it closer to the audience on my educational Instagram account about bilingualism (currently run only in Polish).

My mission is to take the pressure off the parents of bilingual children – and I know that parents feel a lot of pressure. I am glad when, after consultations, I hear from a parent: “It’s good to know that it’s normal!”, “It’s good to hear that others experience it too!”.

See my offer

– Charlemagne –

Opinions about working with me

I came across Joanna’s Instagram account in January this year. I’m waiting for the next posts about bilingualism, I learn so much about myself and my whole family. I stopped worrying all the time whether my children’s language development is okay, now I know that some phenomena that worried me are actually normal. I have more understanding for my children and much more enthusiasm and motivation to support their Polish at home. I can feel the enormous pressure that has been building up over the years slowly coming off of me.


Ola B., mum of Iga and Daniel, Berlin

I’ve been following Joanna’s posts on IG from the very beginning. I watched all the lives on IG, it’s so much knowledge about a common sense and at the same time relaxed approach to bilingual upbringing. I recently made an appointment for a consultation to discuss the choice of a more flexible strategy for multilingual upbringing. We have four languages ​​at home, so it’s fun. I had no idea how to plan it all, and soon our four-year-old will be joined by a younger sister. It’s all much clearer now.


Ania K., Szymon’s mum, Zurich

Joanna’s website was recommended to me by a friend who attended consultations with Joanna. I follow Joanna’s Q&A on Instagram because there is always a lot of information, a lot of knowledge from research. I signed up for consultations to discuss how to prepare for moving to another country, which will happen to us in two years. We live in Poland and I wanted to introduce the intended bilingualism as best as possible. Asia made me realise how many different strategies are out there, I thought there was only OPOL, and OPOL didn’t work at all. Now I feel that this bilingualism comes out a little more naturally, without forcing myself.

Ania T., mum of Franek, Warsaw

I attended Joanna’s webinar in March organized by Mother Tongues. A fantastic dose of knowledge and practical tips to use at home, I wrote two pages of notes. The coolest part was the Q&A, because all these questions were relevant to me – it was nice to discuss with other parents who have similar questions and doubts. I am waiting for webinars in Polish!


Marta S., mum of Wiktoria and Weronika, Coventry