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Reply with quote  #1 

Hello all,

I am in an English speaking country and I am teaching my 18 month old daughter Italian ( I am a non native speaker - I spent a year in Italy studying when I was 25). We use the OPOL system.


The problem is, my daughter is now at day care - english speaking. And comes home with many new english words. she tells me door and I say la porta; she says sit down and I say sederti, she says bag and I say la Borsa etc.


My husband thinks I'm just confusing her; making her think she's getting it wrong the first time etc. And I tend to agree with him.


Here is my daughter telling me all these new beautiful words and instead of applauding and praising her; I'm there telling her something else ugrhhhhhhhhh.


Sorry for venting. I just want to know how to do it right.


Thank you very much in advance


Reply with quote  #2 


My name is Virginia and I live in Minnesota. I am married to a French native and I have a BA in French and an MA in Teaching Languages.  I just finished my MA thesis on bilingual parenting this week!  We have two children who we use OPAL and me situational French. 


You won't confuse your baby.  A friend of mine is using OPAL her a native Spanish speaker (born and raised in Paris by Spanish immigrants) and her husband is using English (he is native to that language).  They are going to enroll him in a French immersion daycare in two months. Everyone keeps telling her (family) that she will confuse him.  She was raised bilingually so she knows. I just keep telling her that she is right.  she won't confuse him.  They figure it all out as long as you are consistant and then even after that she is getting good imput from English speakers. She will firmly learn that system and Italian from you. 


From my experience she will most likely acquire passive knowledge.  Be able to understand commands.  She will learn what is what.  The important point is that you get to use your language and enjoy it while you do. My children started in an immersion program in French and that helped a lot but I don't think you are out of luck if you don't have a school that offers that. I would be happy to email you back and forth with questions if you want.  I can be reached at


Also, I am starting up a support group (reading articles, discussion etc.) for parents who are using their L2 (second language) and what to do when and if it feels 'unnatural' to use it with your children.  This is a new field of study and very exciting. I hope to help other parents learn all about what is going on with this phenomena.  It is SO interesting!  And so New!  Please email if you or anyone. I am so happy to help.



Adrian Villalobos
Reply with quote  #3 
I would love more information about your support group. I am a native English speaker but with my Mexican husband we are teaching my son Spanish.
Adrian Villalobos
Reply with quote  #4 

I see what you mean; she is sharing something she has achieved and you feel like you're ignoring or at least not supporting that. But you don't have to use English to applaud her English learning, and you don't have to talk with her in a correcting sort of way.

Could you say something (all in Italian) like, "Wow, you learned what to call that in English! That's great!" I am a native English speaker, but I speak some Russian with my 2 1/2 year old, and when he uses English while I'm using Russian, I will say, in Russian, "Yes, in English that is called a [English word], and in Russian it's called a [Russian word].

Good luck! Let us know how things go! The transition to daycare can be very hard for all kinds of non-language reasons so if this is the biggest transition issue, I'd say you're pretty lucky.

Reply with quote  #5 

Thank you vey much for your kind replies.


Virginia, It is really sad that my daughter will only get passive knowledge. I really want her to speak Italian. (I forgot to say that I am a native English speaker - our national language). I would take on your offer, I really want her to speak fluent Italian - thank you (this is my email


Karen, thank you; you've helped me to handle this situation in a way that I could not have immagined. And I would be getting to speak more Italian in the process. i could not have asked for more .



You are all great.


Grazie mille. 

Renee Minero
Reply with quote  #6 

Hi Virginia,


My name is Renee. Wow, how your current masters sounds so exciting. Congratulations. I was not aware that that kind of Masters was offered It sounds great. I would absolutely love to be part of your support group. I currently live in Maui, Hawaii with my fiance and soon will be moving to Georgia after we get married this summer, only for a couple of years. We do not have children yet, but it is on our minds for the nearer future. I am mexican american but did not grow up speaking any spanish, my native language is English. Though, I have an IMMENSE passion to raise mu future children bilingually. I took classes in high school, traveled through some of central america where I lived with a family who only spoke spanish, and since last summer have been taking junior college classes. I meet 1-2 times a week with native spanish speakers informally for coffee to chat and use the language. In Georgia I am planning on taking 6 units of spanish classes. I am so passionate about teaching my kids spanish, that I have been researching and reading all I can even though I do not even have kids yet My future husband is a local from Hawaii and does not speak spanish or any other language but english, but is very supportive about the idea. So we will use the OPOL method. I will only speak Spanish to our kids and he english. Very excited for your support group. I would love any information or updates on it


Also, does anyone have a list baby words in Spanish that would be helpful for my future kiddos and I that are used frequently (crib, passafire, etc) ? I have read on this website that many people learn words that they never knew before as a non native speaker when speaking with their kiddos. I would love to do this also and would love if anyone could get me a jump start on the words you all think are pertinent


Hope you all have a MERRY Christmas


Feliz Navidad





Rhonda Broussard
Reply with quote  #7 
Greetings all,

I love reading what other bi/multilingual families are doing and experiencing with their children.  I was raised bilingually French/English and we are raising our daughter with both languages OPOL.  I've taught French immersion for all ages and currently teach a family immersion course for toddlers. 

Renee asked for a Spanish vocab list and I wanted to mention the Dorling Kindersley language publications.  ( that I often recommend to parents who are simultaneously learning language with their infants.  I recommend their series My First ___________ Word Book (French, Spanish, Italian, German).  They feature clear, modern photographs with English and L2 and cover a wide spectrum of daily vocabulary (about 1,000 words including verbs, adjectives, prepositions).  Anyone who knows lanugage basics and is looking for supplemental vocab for interacting with their children would find ample information here.  DK offers an entire line of Canadian dual language books as well. 

Meilleurs voeux dans le Nouvel An,

Reply with quote  #8 

I wonder if Renee's question about baby-related words in Spanish could be the basis for a new feature on this site? Forgive me if it's already here--I haven't explored properly yet. There could be a list of baby-related words to which people could submit equivalents in various languages, for the edification of people parenting in non-native languages. Not a language primer by any means, just a way to fill in the gaps for people who are already proficient. Also perhaps a few short rhymes of the "Eency-weency spider" variety....


I'm picturing something that Christina controls very closely so it doesn't get out of hand. Even if it's not feasible right now, perhaps it could happen some time in the future.

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