Bilingual Parenting: How We Do It

Bilingual Parenting!  It’s so much fun! (Really it is, even if it’s a little challenging at times!)  I talked here about why we’ve chosen to bilingual parent our babies, but I’ve had a lot of people ask me for the how?  How do we do it, how do we make it work for us?

There are SO many different methods and models to raising your kids to speak multiple languages, you really have to find what works best for your family, and what both parents can agree on.  If both parents don’t speak the second language, sometimes one parent can feel left out, so you have to find the compromises that work for you!  Since Piper was born (almost two years ago!! holy cow that time flew by!!) we’ve gone with the one parent one language method, or OPOL, as a lot of people call it.  We stick to this pretty exclusively, but with some exceptions.  Guillaume will always speak French to the kids, and I’ll always speak English.  It changes a little for example when we take trips to France, I’ll speak more French with the kids than normal, because I’m in the midst of lots of French conversations, and we’re around his family, whom not all speak English.  We’ve been lucky with bilingual parenting, because we both are fluent in each of the languages we’re teaching, so we understand everything that the other parent is saying.  This has been working extremely well for us, Piper has a very full vocabulary in both languages, and will have super adorable conversations with us in either language.

Our plan is to continue with OPOL until our kids start school, and then we’ll reevaluate.  If we feel like they’re getting enough English outside the house, but not enough French within, we have the option of switching to speaking only French within our house.  I would also love to bring a French au pair into our house for a while at some point.  I worked as an au pair in France for a year, and I loved it, and I would love to offer that opportunity for a young girl to come live with us at some point…

One of the best parts of bilingual parenting are the new friendships it’s brought into our lives.  Just the other day, we found out that there’s a French family living in our neighborhood with two little kids, one a month younger than Piper, and one 4 days younger than Eaden.  Perfect!!  The kids get together and play a couple times a week, it’s helping Piper’s French to grow, and their little boy’s English to grow, and this mama has a new mama friend!

So there’s no official right or wrong way to bilingual parent, there’s just what works for you and your family, and what both parents feel comfortable and confident with.  If you start with something and find it’s not working, try something new, switch it up and start over a little!  It’s such a fun adventure, and little kids speaking other languages is one of the cutest things in my opinion!

 

Good luck!

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