Our Strategy

Our strategy is roughly based on One Person One Language (OPOL).  However, I think I would ammend it be One Person One Language Most Of The Time.

We have a situation where I speak the minority language (English) while my wife will speak the majority language (Portuguese).  However, English has a positive status in Brazil and around the world so while it is in theory the minority lanaguage I am not anticipating  all of the problems that are often associated with such languages.

When I am with my son I will speak English.

When my wife is with him, she will speak Portuguese.

When the three of us are together we will speak mainly English, but with some Portuguese thrown in.

When we are with Brazilian friends and family we will speak mainly Portuguese, but I will also speak English when it doesn’t cause problems with other listeners.  A lot of our friends and family speak English so there will be lots of opportunities for me to speak English in the presence of others.

When we are with English speaking friends and family, for example in the UK, we will speak mainly English but with some Portuguese thrown in.

Our main aim is for our son not to feel compelled to speak any particular language, but to give him the freedom to choose.  I want him to be comfortable speaking, first and foremost, and I think that, given time, this will lead to him being comfortable to speak in the language that is appropriate for the given context.

However, this is still very early days and I am aware that I am probably being very naive.  I am sure this strategy will need looking at and re-working in the coming years.  If anybody else has any input or ideas regarding our plans, I would be grateful to hear them.


4 thoughts on “Our Strategy

  1. Hi, you are describing a typical bilingual situation. It´s not always possible to apply the OPOL in a very strict way as, as you say, situations require that we adapt. Children learn this in a very natural way and they would never talk a language that the person they want to communicate with, wouldn´t understand. My three children grow up multilingual, we had to change our language situation in our family due to make things easier for my girls, but I think every family has to decide what is best for her. I wish you to enjoy your linguistic adventure, it´s worth it, and you surely know, as you are a teacher. I´m happy I found your blog .

    • Hi Expatsincebirth and thanks a lot for the taking the time to leave a comment.

      Teaching English is easy as I have had lots of training and been doing it for years. I haven’t had any training for being the father of a bilingual child so it is great and reassuring to hear from somebody such as yourself who has been there and done it. I have really learned a lot from reading your site and I hope to read even more in the future.

      • Hi, I’m glad you liked my blog and my posts. Raising bilingual or multilingual children is incredibly interesting but also challenging. But it’s really worth it! I think we all grow with the experiences we make and if we can share them, it’s much easier. So: please share your experience and let’s stay in touch.

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