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Hi there,

We live in the UK. We use OPOL.  I speak only Hebrew to my 2yearold son. Wife speaks only Icelandic to him. My wife and I speak to each other in English (we do not speak one another’s minority language), so the child hears it a lot at home, but we never speak in English to him.

Our problem is that we are not sure what to do when we are all together, especially now when our child is about to start going to kindergarten where he’ll quickly pick up English. We are afraid that our child will quickly realise that we all understand English and then he’ll refuse to communicate in our minority languages….

I think that our options are:
1. Talk English between parents, but continue OPOL when talking to child, and be persistent with him talking to us only in minority languages, and not responding if he talk to us in English.
2. Try and eliminate English at home as much as possible; so I’ll speak to my wife in Hebrew and translate to English if she doesn’t understand, and vice a versa with the Icelandic (which means that if we say complicated stuff we’ll have to repeat almost everything in English…)
3. Any third option???? Can’t think of one…

Please share with us your experiences….



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Hi Uriel,
I will be interested to hear development stories and tips from you, since my wife and I are expecting our first child. I speak Hebrew, my wife speaks Italian and we live in Australia so obviously communicate in English.

I’d love to hear from you.


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Uriel, or K.K do any of you have update on how or which language to use? I have the same situation as I am from Brazil and speak Portugues, my husband is from Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish and we live in the US so we speak English to each other. My baby is 8 months old and so far we have been doing OPOL where I speak Portuguese to her, my husband Spanish and then we communicate in English to each other. We both understand Portuguese and Spanish so I’m wondering if you decided to eliminate the third language at home? Would love to hear updates! Thank you

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Hi Uriel,
Thank you for sharing your family language situation with us.
Your child will socialize in English, so his academic and social life will be all in this language, thus he will learn it quite naturally.
In order for him to have a positive contact with Hebrew and Icelandic, I think you and your wife should ensure that the fun, meaningful and memorable activities done as a family are carried out in these two languages: short-story reading, songs and games in the computer should all be in the languages you want your child to continue learning. Also make sure that family anecdotes are shared in your and your wife’s native language so that they will remain in contact with family traditions and culture.
We are from Mexico and although we never spoke English at home, my husband and I made sure that our children had all of these activities both in English and Spanish. They loved reading Calvin and Hobbes comic books, and watch TV programs in English. They picked up the language naturally and even though they did not attend a bilingual school in English they speak and write it very fluently.
Let us know how things turn out for you

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