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OPOL system - Am I being thick? and some questions

(9 Posts)
gloucestergirl Sat 22-Dec-12 21:16:42

I understand that it means one parent one language. This sounds like a 50:50 division between the languages that the child will be exposed to at home. BUT what happens when the parents speak together? Unless they are both completely fluent in each others' languages then one language will dominate, so the division becomes probably 80:20 in our case. Or do the parents speak a two-language conversation - surely very unnatural and not a model to copy?

At the moment I am english and english-speaking in sweden and my husband is swedish. We speak together in english and then he speaks to her in swedish, but only when I am not there, so that english is the family language. While we are in sweden I'm sure we will muddle through to bilingualism. But I am concerned that when we moved back to an english-speaking country the swedish will be lost as the family language is english (despite DH's attempts in swedish - dare I say it a fairly uncool language). I'm not sure that after 6 years of falling in love, ups and downs (huge arguments!) and roundabouts me and husband can change our language of communication.

How do you really do OPOL?
Has anyone's DC kept the 'other' language after moving countries?
Has anyone managed to change the language in which they speak to their partner because of language concerns for the child?

PS Am really rambling now, but at 10 months DD has 'said' nej (a negative noise that really sounds like no in swedish when she doesn't want to do somehing) and constantly Da-da-da, which irritatingly sounds like dad in english. Am I imagining things?

alexpolismum Sun 23-Dec-12 09:36:47

Do you speak or at least understand Swedish?

This is what we do: We are English/ Greek, living in Greece. I speak to the children in English at all times, with no exceptions, no matter who else is present. I never ever address them in Greek. I speak in English to DH in front of the children, unless there is someone present who does not understand English. DH replies in Greek and speaks to the children only in Greek. We both speak each other's language in the presence of the children ONLY when socially necessary, but never to the children themselves.

When the children are not there, I speak in Greek to dh. Before we had children we always used to speak only in Greek together. I made a conscious decision to change that for the children's benefit. For us, it has worked extremely well, and my children's English is very good. I also reinforce the language with books/ dvds, etc.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 23-Dec-12 19:40:03

DC are 8 and 6. We live in England. We do OPOL since DC's birth:

DH and DC: English (with one or two words in Other Language)

Me to DC whether DH there or not: Other Language

Me to DC when non-Other-Language-speakers present: Other Language + English translation

DC to Me : always Other Language (with some English words that I translate and repeat back in Other Language)

DH and me: English (with one or two words in Other Language).

That sounds complicated... but it's not really. Have had 8 years of practice. grin

strumpetpumpkin Sun 23-Dec-12 19:47:03

there will always be a minority language. just do the best you can. We live in england, but dp is french. He speaks to the kids in french as much as possible. He occasionally forgets. Its not ideal, but its not bad.

MIFLAW Wed 26-Dec-12 16:30:27

I speak French to the children no matter who is present and their mum does the same in English. Otherwise I speak English to English speakers including their mum and French to French speakers. My eldest is nearly 5 and speaks French as well or better than most bilinguals of her age. We live in England. There is no mystery to opol - consistency and commitment is everything. It's not easy but it is simple.

gloucestergirl Fri 28-Dec-12 21:41:46

Thanks for your answers. I suspect we'll muddle through not being very disciplined. I think that as english is so prevelent due to music, tv, internet, etc. that having it as the minority language means that we'll being able to do so.

sleepingsatellite18 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:50:36

Hello - if replies are still relevant!

We're trying to do this.

I speak in English to DD and OH speaks to her in Albanian.
Me and OH speak English to each other (I'm not fluent in Albanian!) although he does ask me to speak to her using the words I DO know.

I know my DD will be surrounded by English far more, so I try to encourage OH to spend more time with his family so DD hears it there. We also play her music in Albanian (especially kiddie songs) and Albanian tv just to maximise the exposure.

Tarlia Wed 13-Feb-13 20:51:48

I'm British my partner isn't but we live in his country.

From when DS was 2 weeks I've spoken English OH spoken other.

OH and I speak English together as I'm not fluent in other language. He will speak in other language if directing a question to DS though at the moment DS mostly answers back in English (if he can he is only a toddler) but understands everything in both langages. Often I understand (or can work out what OH said, other times I may ask for a translation.)

We are going to wing it and see what happens, I should imagine with such a solid British base that even going to 'other' language school he will still hold on to both languages.

calendula Mon 18-Feb-13 09:49:50

I have myself grown up with 100 percent strict OPOL. My parents did just not "understand" if we used the wrong language or mixed. It was no problem at all except that I felt a bit self conscious the occasional times my mum spoke English to me when I had friends around. My parents speak both languages extremely well and speak the foreign language to each other. My brother and I speak English to each other.

I have since moved abroad and also practice strict OPOL. I speak English to DC and DH speaks the language of the country we live in.

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