Thursday, 5 November 2009

OPOMLAH, or Balanced Minority

I am glad we are not living in an Arabic-, French- or German-speaking place. I think it is beneficial that the world around us is speaking yet another language.

Sometimes when we tell people about our language mix, the reaction includes concern: will the kids be able to learn all these languages? How will 3 "non-local" languages survive the influence of our English surroundings?

Those are good questions.

So far I think Lilia has proven that learning a lot of languages at the same time was easy-peasy for her. And I fully expect Ines to follow in her footsteps. It seems to me the human brain wants to learn languages at a young age.

We will see whether the kids will speak anything but English in the long run. My expectation is that they drop one or two other languages, but they will most likely still understand everything. And they will be able to pick the "lost languages" back up very quickly if they have to, I am sure.

Our approach on multilingual learning is a combination of OPOL and MLaH. We are basically doing "One Parent, one Minority Language at Home" (OPOMLAH).

Why do I like that?

Because it means our minority languages get fair treatment. Souad's and my mother tongues are minority languages and neither is preferred. I have the impression that this makes OPOL easier for the parents.

I also hope that because we have 4 languages floating around, the children will more easily grasp the concept of being multilingual. Rather than thinking "Papa speaks differently", they understand that a lot of people speak in a lot of different ways.

Here's hoping that understanding this will cause them not to drop any of their languages at all.