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The OPOL method was the first system to be recognized for the development of bilingual skills in babies. Its origin comes from families with members with different mother tongues, and it arose in a natural way. Maurice Grammont was the first to observe the results that were obtained when each of the parents spoke to the baby in their own language.
His conclusion was that in this way a perfect child's brain development was achieved, becoming fully fluent in both languages before 5 years of age. He reached this conclusion in 1902. 110 years later it is still the most valid method in the development of bilingualism.
In most families it is impossible to apply the system as it was devised. Over time, this system has been modified and adapted to be able to teach a second language without the need for parents to speak different languages.
The development of the OPOL method has been taken to places where the child spends a significant percentage of his life before the age of 4. For this reason, nursery schools or nurseries are the ideal place for the development of a second language, in addition to the nannys they take care of the baby and apply the method.
- It is very important for the child to differentiate and associate each language with a person or an environment. It is a way to facilitate the work of the child's brain, and that he can focus more on the language.
- Consistency and routines are basic, children are exposed to a large number of stimuli on a daily basis, since most things are new to them, which is both distractions and valid information for their brain. Therefore, routines are necessary in learning a language, trying not to pass more than two days without the child seeing the person who speaks to him in English so that the brain does not see it as something sporadic.
- To achieve a good functioning in the OPOL method, there must be a minimum of time to which the child has to be exposed, ideally, 50 percent should be in each of the languages, something that is practically impossible since we always interact in a city or with more people that unbalance that ideal 50 percent. The recommended minimum for secondary language is 30 percent, which is about 5 hours a day.
- The biggest drawback in learning English is to accustom the ear to the different accents that we can find, an American accent being very different from an English one, and even in nearby areas the pronunciation can vary tremendously. In fact, very few natives have a completely correct pronunciation of English. For this reason, it is important to rely on different media such as videos, songs ... to help children understand the different accents.
The child may not want to speak in English any more than with the person who always speaks. To know if he is learning, we simply have to ask him naturally in English. Even if you answer in Spanish, we will see that you have understood the phrase perfectly.
At first, it is normal for children to mix a word in the two languages. We must not give it importance, we can repeat the phrase with the word in the correct language, but without trying to correct it, since your brain is still placing all the information in different sections. In the bilingual child, when receiving more information than a monolingual child, the language acquisition process, being in two languages, may take a little longer.
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