Time and Place Language Strategy

Bilingual and Multilingual kids don’t just become fluent in their languages overnight. Parents need to put a lot of time and effort into making sure they get adequate exposure from each language to become bilingual or multilingual. To do this, parents may choose a language strategy to follow such as Time and Place. I have written previously about OPOL – One Person One Language, The Adaptions of OPOL, and MLAH – Minority Language at Home, which are very popular language strategies among parents raising multilingual kids. However not all families are the same, and sometimes need flexibility.

What is “Time and Place”?

The Time and Place language strategy is where parents choose a time and place, (or both) to speak with your child in a certain language. Here are some examples:

Choosing a Time

Speak one language in the morning, and another language in the afternoon.

Speak languages on a one or two week rota, eg. Week 1- English, Week 2- Italian.

Speak one language during the week, and another language on the weekends.

Speak one language in general, and another language during the bedtime routine.

Choosing a Place

Speak one language at home, and another language outside the home.

Speak one language at home and in general, and another language when with friends or other family.

Speak one language at home, and another language at school.

Speak one language at home, and another in a target room or space in the house. Eg a language corner.

Who is “Time and Place” for?

Bilingual parents who would like to pass on more than one language to their child can use this language strategy by choosing a time and place or both to speak each of the languages, trying to balance out the exposure to each language.

Parents who don’t understand their partner’s languages prefer Time and Place in order to make sure that no parent is left out of the conversation. Perhaps speaking a family language together, and then using an adaption of OPOL speaking the other language.

Monolingual parents can use this language strategy to raise bilingual children. Perhaps speaking one language at home and sending their children to a language immersion school.

Time and Place is a great language strategy for parents who would like to introduce a language to their children later on, not from birth. It helps children to adapt to the languages when there is a distinction of where or when they speak each language.

Parents who are not fluent in a language they would like to teach their children use this language strategy because they are not confident in speaking the language full time.

Advantages of Time and Place

Using this language strategy helps children to distinguish where and when to use each language since each language has a time or place.

Families who cannot follow the more popular methods such as OPOL and MLAH have this extra option.

Disadvantages of Time and Place

In some cases, using the Time and Place language strategy, there may be unbalanced exposure to the languages the children are learning. One language may have limited exposure. Parents need to be very consistent with this strategy and make sure they are speaking the right languages at the time or place they have planned. It doesn’t mean it cannot be done, it just means that you need to take special care making sure you stick to it, for it to work. Check out the main post on How to Raise a Bilingual Child for other language strategies.

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