I am so glad I have found this community!!! I am Greek residing in Greece but I have been taught English since I was a child and obtained two university degrees in the UK where I've lived for 8 years. I also speak French and German.
We have 11 month old twins and although I read and sang to them in English since birth, I have just started OPOL. Me, my husband and my mom are the primary care givers. My husband has a very good knowledge of the language but doesn't like speaking in English although he wants our children to grow up bilingually. His sister and mother are English teachers and I have asked them to speak to the twins in English but they don't visit often.
I am playing English nursery songs all day to them and reading to them as often as possible.
I am worried that I should have started OPOL earlier and that they will not get enough exposure to the language.
I'd love to hear from anyone in similar circumstances. All advice and suggestions are welcome!
Tania, welcome! I don't know the details of your situation, including how much time you're able to spend with your children each day, but since they're still quite small and you've already been exposing them to English "part-time," I don't think this shift toward using English "full-time" should be a concern. And if your husband is willing to use English, too, at certain times (to start, maybe one day a week or even just one meal a week?), this would help fortify your efforts.
As for whether their exposure to English will be sufficient to foster active use of the language, this will naturally depend on your capacity to provide ample input through the range of efforts described at my blog, at this forum, and in my book. A good benchmark for this input would be at least 25 hours a week of meaningful language exposure. If you find that it's difficult to create this amount of exposure on your own, then you'll need to supplement your efforts with exposure from others in some way. Ultimately, the more exposure to English your children receive during these first few formative years, the more you'll strengthen the odds that they will successfully develop active ability in this language.
At the same time you're seeking to emphasize English, I would also recommend "de-emphasizing" your use of Greek in front of them, to the extent possible. The more they hear you speaking Greek, the more you could potentially undermine their "need" to use English with you once they begin to chatter back.
Tania, you clearly have a strong background and, with persistent, playful action, day by day, I expect your family will experience a lot of bilingual (multilingual) success and joy over the years ahead. Best wishes from Japan to Greece!
Adam Beck is the author of the popular nonfiction books "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability" and "I WANT TO BE BILINGUAL!" (illustrated by Pavel Goldaev) as well as the award-winning humorous novel "How I Lost My Ear" (illustrated by Simon Farrow).
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