Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Notes from the OPOL family - what is it all about?

This blog was set up by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, teacher of English as a second language and author of Language Strategies for Bilingual Families - The one-parent-one language approach.

I have been researching bilingualism and multilingualism for nearly ten years, and it is closely linked with my personal family life as a bilingual family. I am English, married to a Frenchman, Jacques and we have lived as expats in Budapest, Cairo, Zurich and Kuala Lumpur. We also spent time in England and France. We have three children, who are more-or-less bilingual, Marc (9), Nina (7) and Gabriel (3).

I wrote a dissertation on Trilingual Families in 1999 as part of my Masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. This led to a post on the Editorial board of the quarterly Bilingual Family Newsletter as writer and advisor for families. In 2001 I proposed to write an academic book on the pro's and con's of the well-known one-parent-one-language approach or OPOL. This book was published in 2004 and since then I have been doing talks and seminars on bilingualism and also writing an informal diary on our OPOL family in the Bilingual Family Newsletter.

This blog is a way to tell people about the reality of being an OPOL-family, the funny side, the frustrations, the language miscommunications and the decisions on schooling and langauge use that we have to make on a regular basis. It compliments the BFN column and gives readers some idea of how the family language use evolves over time and with more children!

I hope it helps any families in a similar situations - couples with two or even three languages, those living in a country with a different language or those parents wanting their child to speak another language.

Please contact me with your comments, and if you want a more academic summary of my book please go to http//www.opol4us.com. The book can be ordered through my publisher, Multilingual Matters in the UK. Their website is: http//www.multilingual-matters.com

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