Last week, I posted a question to our Facebook page asking parents who use the mL@H method to raise their children bilingual to share some of the difficulties they’ve encountered with it. I wanted to write a post around those answers based on some of my own difficulties with the method. But then, one of the parents asked what mL@H stands for and I figured I needed to step back a bit.
Inadvertently, I assumed everyone who’s raising bilingual children knows what acronyms like mL@H, OPOL (one parent/one language) and T&P (time and place) stand for. Maybe it’s because we throw them around here all the time or because I’m so used to them ever since we started this journey nearly four years ago. But the truth is that it’s always good to go back to the basics.
If you’re new here, you might find this information useful. If you’re not, then maybe you can share your experiences using the particular method you use to raise your kids bilingual.
Minority Language at Home (mL@H)
It’s no secret that when I embarked in the journey of raising bilingual kids, I had no idea that the “method” I planned to use had a name. Making sure my children spoke both Spanish and English was not something I decided to do once I became a mom. No. For my husband and I, there was no other option but to raise our kids bilingual because we need to ensure they grow up speaking Spanish. Since Spanish is our first language, it seemed completely logical to us that we’d be speaking Spanish at home and we’d let them learn English in school.
In essence, that’s the definition of the mL@H method. Parents speak the minority language — the one that the community at large doesn’t speak — at home while their kids learn the majority language (in our case English) elsewhere, usually in school. The interesting thing about this method is that although it says that we use the minority language at home, the reality is that we actually use it everywhere whenever we are with our kids. In other words, it’s really has nothing to do with the place where you use the minority language.
Another amusing observation, at least in my case, is that because my kids spent the first three years of their lives strictly at home — as opposed to at a daycare setting — Spanish was actually their majority language until they were introduced to English in preschool.
Either way, the mL@H method has worked extremely well for my family… so far. At 6 years old, Vanessa is bilingual and is doing great in her non-bilingual school. She has no problems going from one language to the other, but it seems to me like she has a preference for Spanish. At 3 years old, Santiago is just starting his bilingual journey and I see him following his sister’s progress.
It’s important to point out that neither you nor your partner have to be native speakers of the minority language you’ll be using to raise your children bilingual. In other words, as long as you are both fluent in the minority language – which in this country is anything other than English – this method will work for you.
Now that I’ve explained what the mL@H method is, soon I’ll be sharing some of the disadvantages or difficulties I’ve encountered with it. Can you share some of yours?