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Subject: Question about the method of speaking to children in parents' native languages
Question: Hi!

I'm Spanish and my wife is British, we live in Spain and have two
children aged 4 and 6. I speak to them in Spanish and my wife
does it in English. My English is fluent (advanced, not proficient)
but my accent is not very British. Our children usually (not always)
speak to my wife in English and to me in Spanish. We visit the UK
family twice a year, a week in easter and a month in summer.
Whilst at the UK, the children only speak in English, and they
catch up quite quickly. As far as I know, this is the OPOL method.

I am not sure if I should change and speak to them in English,
using the MLAH method instead. Is there any recent research wich
suggest which method works out better? Will my accent be
transferred to my children if I change to English-only? Is it ok to
speak to my children in both languages or should I stick to one?

I'd be very pleased if you could help me out, as I am quite
confused. Thank you very much.

Reply: Stop worrying! Children learn the languages they need, and they also learn the accents they need to fit in with their own friends.

You live in Spain -- they presumably go to kindergarten/school there and have friends there. You don't have to worry about Spanish.

They already speak English -- they have spent enough time with their mother to learn it and you make regular visits to England. It's working. You have 2 bilingual children.

What makes you think this is not working? Be happy! Of course you can speak to them in either language.

Once children are over the age of about 3 years, parents have little impact on their accent. Children will acquire the accents of their own social group. This may mean that when your children learn English at school in Spain they start to speak English with a Spanish accent. Don't be shocked. When they visit their friends and relatives in England, they'll adapt to their accent. It doesn't matter.


Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 04-Oct-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Question about the method of speaking to children in parents' native languages    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (02-Oct-2012)
  2. Re: Question about the method of speaking to children in parents' native languages    James L Fidelholtz     (02-Oct-2012)

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