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Bilingual children / OPOL - how does it work when speaking to 2 people at same time?

(8 Posts)
SizzlesSit Wed 04-Jun-14 20:28:11

Im English. DH is French. We are both fluent in both languages.

We are currently doing a rough OPOL with our toddler. But I was wondering - how will it work later when DS is telling us both something at the same time? (Eg about his school day). Is it just that we only reply in our native languages and DS talks to us in whatever language...or shoul he tell us his story in both languages (which will feel artificial as we're both fluent)

PunchHouse Wed 04-Jun-14 20:34:18

He should tell it in the language of his choice (which is likely to be the language of his schooling if he's talking about his school day).

Each if you should stick to their own language when replying directly to him.

That said, it's very fluid in my house. I always speak to DC in English, but they speak to each other in whichever language comes to them first, and XH and I spoke to each other in his language.

It's got to be natural, whatever you do.

addictedtosugar Wed 04-Jun-14 20:38:40

My understanding of DH's language is basic.
So if I'm included in the conversation, it switches to English.
I do try and answer the questions about what we've done, or what day it is, but often kids and DH need to correct me!

schlafenfreude Wed 04-Jun-14 21:45:04

Now DS is older we apply the rule that whoever starts the conversation chooses the language. I always start in English if addressing DH and DS (and DD but she's tiny), DH will start in French, DS 50/50 but certain activities are more likely to be in French and some in English. We then all carry on the conversation around that topic in that language. If one parent leaves to do something else the remaining parent usually switches to their language if it's not the one being used but only at a sensible point. It works better than I can explain.

Occasionally DS will find it really funny to come up to me and go 'maman...' He then waits for me to reply in French before proceeding. If I say 'yes' he just repeats 'maman'. It's an easy way of letting him control life a bit I suppose.

SizzlesSit Thu 05-Jun-14 03:31:15

Thats interesting thanks.

I always talk to DH in French which is something we've wondered about changing (as we live in France - more exposure to English wouldnt be bad for DS) but thi he is fluent, DH just isnt chatty in English!

Its also hard for me to talk about some things in English, if they happened in French (eg. Work) so I imagine DS will be similar, altho Im hoping his language skills will be stronger than mine.

TheEmpress Fri 06-Jun-14 00:07:14

Can you DH speak in French and you answer in English?

Ds speaks to us each in our own language, when the conversation is three way, dh speaks in his language, I in mine and ds switches depending on who he is speaking to.

Dh and I speak together in English, although I understand his language,but when ds was younger and we wanted him to hear more of the minority language, we used to speak to each other in our own languages... It makes more sense when you hear it...

SixImpossible Fri 06-Jun-14 00:14:15

I switch between languages without even noticing. I was in my 40s before I ever realised that my parents did OPOL!

My main language is English, so a conversation with both parents tends to be in English, but may well switch between languages, depending on the subject and which language my parents use. If there are others around, then the conversation will tend to stay in the more common language.

Aditya4 Wed 13-Aug-14 18:52:09

I was brought up in an OPOL environment and I think tend to speak English when speaking to both parents as my father's French isn't as strong as my mum's English. However, my mum will always reply to me in French and I might speak start speaking in French if she asks me a question. So a long conversation between the three of us probably consists of a healthy mix of both languages. It develops naturally though, my parents didn't put any rules in place for this situation.

To complicate things even more, my sister and I seem to communicate mostly in English but with a healthy spattering of French words and verbs in between. A real Franglais experience!

As long as you follow the OPOL in a one-on one-conversation, and reply in your respective languages, I think letting your child choose the language to speak in will work well.

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