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I have chosen a different system for myself and just wondering if anyone else has tried something similar!

Country = Australia (dom lang = English)
Father = native Italian speaker
Mother = native English speaker with fluent non-native Italian

As I look after my son 90% of the time, I decided OPOL would not give him enough Italian exposure. So I decided:
* I speak to him 4 days a week in italian, 3 days in English (plus I use books, music, radio etc on the Italian days for extra native input)
* i encourage my husband to speak 100% in Italian with him
* we try to speak 100% italian when together as a family (however in reality it’s probably 80/20)

It’s ok now as he is 18 months and not really talking, but what will happen when my son speaks to me in English on the Italian day? I guess I will gently guide him back to Italian. This already happens as the few words he knows are mainly in English (I think because it has less syllables) – if speaking Italian, we reinforce the word either in English or Italian (to show we’ve understood) and then guide him back into Italian with our response. Hard at this age to get the balance right between reinforcement, and keeping the separate languages going!

What about when he’s older and refuses to answer in the non-dominant language!

Would love to know other people’s experiences.


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I’m not sure if I can just paste the link in here, but this person’s story might help you:  Otherwise, look under

ForumsYour Storiesagainst all the rules- but it’s worked!
I think what you’re doing is wonderful!


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Hi Juliette,
It was great to read your post… a long time after you posted it, but I thought I’d reply anyway.

My husband and I are both Native English speakers and we are living in Germany at the moment. We are planning to bring our children up with at least two languages, preferably three. I am planning to do a similar thing to you, English some days, German other days and maybe Spanish at some point. My husband works away a lot, so OPOL would not really work – even if one of us was fluent in German. My German is not great, but I know it will improve even before our first child arrives later this year.

It was great to read about your system and that you are/were happy with it. How are things going? Your son is 2 1/2 now, is that right? Does he understand both languages well.

Taffy’s links were really useful. I agree that good communication should be at the top of the list, no matter what.


Native: English English
Live in: Germany (at the moment!)
Children: On the way
System: Not fully decided
Helen San

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I am in the same situation in that I cannot use OPOL or mL@H.  

I am trilingual (native English, non-native Spanish, native Chinese limited).  My husband is also trilingual (native English, non-native French, non-native Swahili).  We live in the USA and are homeschooling.  We agreed to teach our children English, Spanish, and Chinese.  My 3 children (ages 9, 4, and nearly 2) are already bilingual in English and Spanish by having lived in South America for the last 3 years.  But now I want to teach Chinese while maintaining their Spanish and homeschooling in English. 

I cannot do OPOL as neither my Spanish nor Chinese is good enough to use for homeschooling.  I want to do mL@H, but I have to do both minority languages by myself, since my husband cannot help with either Spanish or Chinese.

I am thinking of giving Chinese lessons first, then dedicating 1 day a week to speaking to them in Chinese.  As they get better, I can spend half the week in Chinese and half the week in Spanish, whenever they are not in “homeschool.”  Or one week for each minority language, alternating back and forth.

I have no idea how this would work.  Any thoughts?  Any experience with trilingualism with only one parent shouldering all the minority language responsibilities and without the benefit of a foreign community language would be appreciated.  (Sorry for posting this under 2 different threads, just in case someone reading this post can help me.)

Thank you.


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Hi Helen,

You could try different languages on different days, either alternate days or 3 days one and 3 days the other (not sure about the 7th! – maybe decided on your mood/let you kids decide). If that doesn’t work, maybe a different language for a different place or activity eg. walking to school, in the park, going to the supermarket.
I would love to know how you are getting on.


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