OPOL: An In-depth Look at Most Popular Method of Raising Bilingual Kids - SpanglishBaby.com

It’s been five months since the official launch of SpanglishBaby. In this time we’ve come to the realization that, although it’s not the one Ana and I use, the majority of you out there are raising your kiddos bilingual by means of the One Parent-One Language (OPOL) method.

We first started noticing the trend from the questions and comments we got from all our readers and then through the answers to a survey we recently conducted. Out of the responses we got to the question: “I use this method to teach my child a second language…” the overwhelming one was OPOL. In other words, according to the results, 44% of those of you who participated in the poll use the OPOL method.

Truth be told, the results come as no surprise. According to Raising a Bilingual Child by Barbara Zurer Pearson, one of our very own experts, “In 1902, in the first printed advice that we are aware of on how to raise a bilingual child, (Maurice) Grammont proposed OPOL. It has continued to be the favored strategy in many parts of the world, especially in Europe and Canada.”

Even though we’ve touched upon this subject before, Ana and I figured it was time to give a more in-depth look at this ever-so-popular method of accomplishing the task of raising bilingual kids. Thus, we’ll be dedicating this whole week to the OPOL method including our regular Ask an Expert series – which is moving to Wednesday this week only – and a Your Story guest post by someone who has been doing the OPOL thing successfully for the last four years.

Today, we’ll start with a look at some of the top concerns of parents using this method. You probably noticed that for the past few weeks, we’ve had an on-going poll regarding this subject. Thanks to all who participated and in case you didn’t get a chance to look at the results yourself, here’s a snapshot:

The results actually confirmed what we’d kind of deduced all along. Most of you using this method worry that your children are not getting enough of the minority language which, for those of us living in the U.S., means anything but English. Obviously, this makes a lot of sense since we are surrounded by English yet many of us don’t have the luxury to live in “bilingual communities” where Spanish – to use the most common minority language as an example – is spoken and heard as much as English, i.e. Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, you get the point…

This issue is perfectly reflected in this comment from Maria that we got in our Forums: “For us the biggest challenge is getting enough minority language input. Although I am home with the kids (Spanish ml) they still hear lots of English, including most conversations between my husband and myself since his Spanish is not fluent and so us speaking English is often most practical. Plus in general despite my constant efforts to search out Spanish in any/every way shape and form, the community still surrounds us with English and I feel like its a constant effort to keep Spanish in the mix.”

We’ve written extensively about how to deal with this concern and you can find that information in this Ask an Expert post, in this one about boosting the minority language and in this post about creative activities to help your children keep up with their Spanish.

What to Expect:

Following is a taste of what we have prepared for our OPOL Week. We hope you find it useful and, as usual, we encourage you to leave comments, questions or to just share your own experiences. Remember this is the best way for all of us to learn!

  • TUESDAY – Pediatrician and author of the book, 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child, Dr. Naomi Steiner, will share with us why she believes the OPOL method is the way to go when raising a bilingual child.
  • WEDNESDAY – Our weekly Ask an Expert series with an OPOL-specific question answered by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, author of Language Strategies for Bilingual Families – The One Parent-One Language Approach and the blog: Notes from the OPOL Family.
  • THURSDAY - A guest post from one of our loyal readers – and the founder of my bilingual playgroup. Many of you who are just starting your bilingual journey have asked if the OPOL method actually works. This post will be proof that it does!
  • FRIDAY - A list of resources/articles/websites compiled specifically for those of you using or thinking about using the OPOL method.

***And, as if all this weren’t enough, we will be giving away a copy of Dr. Steiner’s 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child, every single day this week, starting today :)

Before signing off, I want to say kudos to all of you who are raising your children bilingual using the OPOL method. Ana and I are both in awe of your discipline and commitment and we know your kids will eventually be forever grateful for your efforts. Keep up the awesome work – you inspire us all!

This giveaway is now closed. You can still enter for another chance every day this week. Congratulations to our winner: NATHALIE SIMMONS JORGE!

To win a copy of Dr. Naomi Steiner’s book:

All you have to do is leave us a comment sharing something about the OPOL method, whether it be a question, a concern, a challenge, a tip, pros/cons, an anecdote, anything that will add to the online conversation about this popular method.

We’ll be giving away one copy per day and you can enter once per day. Today’s giveaway will end tonight at midnight EST. Make sure you’re subscribed either by RSS or email so you don’t miss out on this highly informative and useful OPOL week.

Giveaway rules.


{Photo By UNC – CFC – USFK}

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