Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Raising a Multilingual Child

Raising a 19 month old in a foreign country raises many questions for both parents. One of them being, what language will we teach our daughter? My husband's native language is Croatian, mine is Spanish but we speak English to each other. The result, Beli speaks all three languages! And since we are living in Croatia she knows more Croatian than Spanish or English. She knows her body parts in Croatian, colors in English and if she wants something to drink she asks for agua water. At bedtime when I sing twinkle, twinkle little star she hums along with me and when I call her mi tesoro y mi nina preciosa, my sweetheart, my precious girl she tries to pronounce preciosa. I melt me derrito when I listen to her trying to pronounce this word.

One day over coffee I mentioned to my friend from Russia how Beli uses all three languages throughout the day.She told me about the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method. She explained that this would increase the likelihood that Beli would be bilingual. Except in our case it would be trilingual. Our goal is for our daughter to speak all three languages so she can communicate with both sets of grandparents.

According to this OPOL method, my husband should only speak Croatian to her, and I would speak Spanish. But to be honest with you, I am falling victim to Spanglish. Not that there is anything wrong with this right? I read her a book and I say "look Beli the tree is green and the cielo sky is blue. Y mira la agua look at the water. Then I wonder if we are only confusing her or is she really grasping each language independently? Or is she too young for us to even be worried?

So maybe this OPOL is worth a try? And while there might be no right or wrong answer, consistency is important according to this method. I will keep you posted of how it is working.

Aver como nos va. Will see how it goes.


  1. Well, I learned this way--just throwing all languages out there...and it stuck. Remember, kids are sponges...they absorb more than we give them credit for.

  2. I agree. I will just continue with what I am doing now.


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