Who else brings their child/ren up with German and English?

(52 Posts)

What we do:
Very strict OPOL
During the week the child is to 75% exposed to the German language. I talk German with him all day, we have German TV, he watches only a few programs in English. We have lots of German friends, go to two German playgroups and only have a few play dates with English speaking children.
We have lots German books etc.

However, he is two and does not talk at all. He just had surgery for his glue ears and we hope his hearing improves now.

Is there anything else I can do?

MmeLindor Thu 11-Apr-13 16:57:45

imo, you have to be careful not to make one language 'forbidden'.

Kids can be funny. I met one couple whose son refused to speak to his British dad in English after hearing his dad speak German at work. He saw it as a betrayal, that his father was ridiculing him.

He was 14 yo when I met the family, and still wouldn't speak English with his dad, even though he spoke it with grandparents, cousins in UK.

Mine were late in speaking - they are now 8 and 10yo and sometimes I wish they would shut up!

noramum Thu 11-Apr-13 19:40:18

I found kids TV difficult for under-3s as it is very often BBC imports like Mike the knight or Timmy Time and DD just couldn't cope with Thomas the Tank Engine speaking German.

We did lots of nursery rhyme CDs or Rolf Zuckowski. When DD was 2 we tried Biene Maja, great for stories but she hates the cartoons.

I stopped translating books when it was more than 2 sentences per page. Luckily I worked on a project for my employer when DD was 2-4 and was nearly every months in Germany. I was known for spending my evenings at Bookshops :-) saved a fortune on Amazon delivery charges. But some things you can get on Amazon.co.uk and pay nothing, it just take a couple of days longer.

WidowWadman Thu 11-Apr-13 20:02:06

I've bought a few DVDs with children's classics such as Augsburger Puppenkiste (Jim Knopf, das Urmel) which I love because they remind me of my own childhood and are a hit with my kids too.

They also have a weird obsession with a Mein Kleines Pony - Weihnachten im Ponyland DVD they've been given by a well meaning relativ. It makes me want to take my eyes out and stuff them into my ears so I don't have to see or hear it, but the kids love it.

Audioplays are also great - my 2 year old loves "Mondbaer", the 4 year old currently oscillates between Petterson und Findus, Der Drache Kokosnuss and Die Kleine Hexe.

Yodeleeiay Thu 11-Apr-13 21:59:19

How about children's songs/ CDs? DCs are all different obvs, but my two (4 & 2.5) both sung songs in German and English before they could talk (DS still can only say a couple of words in German but joins in songs.) They like action ones especially, der Froschelein, Ramsamsam, Das ist gerade etc. (sorry if my German spelling's not right). He doesn't understand all the words, for sure, but gets the overall meaning and some individual words.

We've all been ill recently so tried out various DVDs /TV progs on 2.5YO. Only DVDs he can watch in German are Mausi/ Maisy Mouse and Peppa Wutz. Mausi I think is especially good, very simple, slow narration.

We live in Germany & speak only English at home. (I only realised recently there were MNers living in Germany! I always thought it was for UK mums and felt like an intruder when I looked up baby questions.) I
also have an English-speaking friend with a 2.5YO DD who spoke very few words (English or German) at 2, Kinderarzt told my friend to be more consistant where she spoke English and where German, her DD now sings and speaks much more. I guess 2 is still early for a bilingual child, even in 6 months their language can come on lots.

Jokat Sun 14-Apr-13 22:08:39

I am German, dh is English, we live in the UK. I speak German with the dds (4 and 1.5) unless we are in English-speaking company. When dh is around I also usually speak English with them. Dd1 speaks German and English with me, but doesn't use any German words when speaking with her dad, who doesn't speak German apart from a few words and very simple phrases. When he addresses her in German, e.g. Ist das Essen lecker? she often tells him not to be so silly and refuses to respond in German grin Dd2 only speaks a few words yet, some of them are in German, others are in English. So far so good!

How should I go about introducing the German letters and sounds to dd1, who will start school this September? I feel like I'm bombarding her with a lot of knowledge if I tell her about the different letter names and sounds in both languages! I worry that if I stick with the German stuff only, she will find it hard to keep up with the other kids when school starts. But I absolutely want her to be able to read books in German when she's older, so I don't just want to teach her the English alphabet and sounds either. How have you done it?

WidowWadman Sun 14-Apr-13 22:34:37

I've bought my 4 year old this Fibel with the corresponding work book. She quite likes looking at it and now grasps the concept that just like there are different words in German and English there are also different pronunciations. The Fibel comes with an Anlauttabelle which helps her working out the words. It also has a lot of exercises breaking down longer words into syllables by clapping, which helped taking away the fear of long complicated words.

MmeLindor Mon 15-Apr-13 12:37:34

Jokat
we moved to Geneva just as DD was about to start school in Germany. She learned to read and write in French, and somehow just picked up German and English without any formal teaching.

I noticed that she would sometimes start to pronounce a word incorrectly, but would notice and correct herself. Even words like information, which are pronounced differently in all three languages - she knew which way to say them.

noramum Mon 15-Apr-13 15:54:11

Jokat: DD started Reception here in the UK and learned phonics. Last Christmas, first term of Year1, she just started reading German. The sounds are actually quite similar. She still has issues with "ei" where she uses the English "i" sound.

And the ß was obviously a "b" in the beginning :-)

We didn't use a Fibel or similar, we bought "Leserabe" which comes in several levels or books with Bibi Blockberg from Klett-Verlag. DD reads slower than in English which annoys her.

Jokat Wed 17-Apr-13 10:43:45

Thank you very much ladies! I shall be all relaxed about it then smile
It is amazing how kids can just pick these things up, isn't it?!

gabsid Wed 17-Apr-13 11:44:25

We are doing things similar to you and DC (8 and 4) are bilingual. They use whichever language goes with a person. However, if an English person proves to DS that he is fluent in German then DS will stick to German with that person whoever he is surrounded by - it happened to us when DS was about 5 and it was quite funny.

I always translated picture books for DS, but DD loves books and I do read to her in English as well now as I can't buy the amount of books a library can provide and she is starting to enjoy chapter books now. I do make it clear though that I read what's written on the page and that it's not me talking.

gabsid Wed 17-Apr-13 11:46:41

Is it that amazing? They are having years of private language tuition and are more or less immersed in the language - wouldn't you learn a new language under these circumstances? smile

WidowWadman Wed 17-Apr-13 18:23:10

"And the ß was obviously a "b" in the beginning :-)"

Whenever my daughter spots it she exclaims loudly "I don't like the komische [s]!"

Chislemum Fri 19-Apr-13 17:23:56

Oh wow - great thread. My little one is 8 months old. I am German, DH English, we live in London. DS will go to English nursery when I return to work, hopefully I will be able to teach him some German!

Driver8 Tue 30-Apr-13 07:31:18

Im pretty strict with opol. In our house we have mamas books and daddys books. My DS is almost 3 now and knows which books are read by which parent.

Kaylajayne Fri 10-May-13 20:21:41

Hi, I'm also bringing my kids up with two languages. We're from England but live in Austria. They speak German in KG and School and English at home. So far, we've had no problems. Regards to reading books they have both. I'll either read in German or English. Television though is mainly English and maybe if something goods on in German we'll watch it in German.

Bejeena Fri 31-May-13 15:36:11

I was just wondering if there is anyone on here in the same situation as us? I am British, been living in Germany for 14 years, have a degree in German and speak German to what I guess is a C1/C2 level (some people say I am fluent, I can speak 'fluently' in that respect but I do still make odd grammar mistakes). I work in a German office so am used to speaking German every day and people often can only tell I am not German because of my name. At the moment our socialising is mostly done in English.

My husband is also British but doesn't speak German that well, he has an English speaking job and we speak only English at home since we are both native speakers.

Our baby is due soon and I had originally always assumed that we would both speak to him in English and as he grew older he would develop German language skills from Kinderkrippe, Tagesmütter, Kindergarten, etc.

However some people have advised me to speak to the baby in German and my husband also thinks this might be a good idea.

Does anyone have any tips or experiences to share?

noramum Fri 31-May-13 19:50:12

Bejeena, please don't do it. First you will teach your child your mistakes. Secondly as long as your child has enough outside influence it will learn German.

We did it the other way round with DD. I personally struggle speaking English with her, especially all things emotionally. I am ok when together with friends but it doesn't come naturally. I have no problems normally, just with her.

You say you work so I assume you may want to go back fairly soon. So if your child goes to nursery or childminder early he/she will get into it automatically. If you stay at home longer I would ensure to go to play groups or so to let your child hear German before Kindergarten with 3.

marchmad Fri 31-May-13 22:24:22

Why would you speak German when you're living in Germany and you speak English mother tongue and not German? There is no need to speak German, I have to agree with noramum. Of course when your child is older, you might inevitably speak German too, or at least your child might speak German and you answer in English, once they've figured out they understand what will almost definitely be their preferred language, once they are in school. You need to think about how to support the English, not the German, that will best be done by speaking English!

Bejeena Mon 03-Jun-13 11:55:56

noramum and marchmad thank you very much for the input I do very much appreciate it.

That is the thing that worries me - perhaps not getting enough outside influence to learn German initially. Like I said our social life is pretty much strictly English speaking due to my husband's lack of confidence in German. I am a bit concerned that my child might suffer in Kindergarten and have to go to 'Sprachförderung' for German language support. This has happened to some other English speaking friends of ours, although saying that they do have the issue that neither of them really speaks any German so I guess German play groups were out of the question.

Of course him picking up grammar mistakes is the main reason I was so unsure about doing it.

I think I probably will be staying home for a longer so will be looking into play groups or other German speaking alternatives. I assume this might happen naturally anyway - I'll meet other German speaking Mum's at the antenatal classes etc. anyway surely?

noramum Mon 03-Jun-13 17:50:55

I was desperate to get out of the house when DD was born and it was during the Summer holidays so all groups where closed.

You will find antenatal classes and also "Rueckbildungsklassen". Also pekip is quite popular in Germany for small babies.

Your midwife should be able to help you and point you in the right direction. If you are in a larger town google if there is anything on the Internet.

Bejeena Wed 05-Jun-13 14:43:37

Thanks noramum. Actually I have just been having a nose around online at the Familienzentrum website in our town and the course plan for the second half of 2013 comes out on 12. June. So I am going to keep checking and make sure I get us signed up to the Pekip group and for a few other things too, I guess will get me out meeting German Mamas too.

Frescolita Thu 31-Oct-13 21:02:06

Bejeena- Did you find other Mamas? My Thursday-mummies were my sanity during my Elternzeit. I found that the friends I made in the antenatal group were the ones I have kept. DD has been to 2 1st-birthday-parties so far, and I hope that her German friends will be her motivation for German when she is older. I'm not so worried about her learning German- she is in Kita already, and is in a german speaking environment all day. I'm more concerned about ensuring that she learns good English smile She doesn't speak much at all yet, but is pretty social and very good at getting her point across. I guess she will start speaking sometime!

BloggingAboutTediousThings, maybe just don't worry? I have a couple of friends who have bilingual little boys- they started speaking between 2 and 3. Maybe boys just need longer?

AphraBane Fri 01-Nov-13 20:55:47

DDs are 15 and 11 and were born here in Germany. DH and myself are both English speaking and spoke only English to them from the start. So for the first year they were only exposed to English with us, then when they went to Krippe/Tagesmutter at just over a year old they started picking up German from the Erzieherin and the other kids. We did notice that DD1 spoke quite late because she spent a long time absorbing the differences between the two languages, but then at 3 she suddenly started speaking in both languages and has always been able to keep them apart well. Now at 15 both of them are completely bilingual, both writing and speaking. They've always attended bilingual schools which uses immersion (certain subjects taught in English, others in German, all teachers only speak their native language).

"However some people have advised me to speak to the baby in German and my husband also thinks this might be a good idea." bejeena, others have said it already, but I just want to confirm that you really should stick to English at home, because there will be plenty enough exposure to German in the outside world.

Our language system was disrupted quite weirdly this spring. DD1 was doing a language exchange with a French girl, who came to stay for three months. The deal was that it was a French-German exchange, so we made a decision as a family to go over to speaking German at home for that period. DH and myself managed that far better than my bilingual children! We think it's because they've assigned each person a 'right' language, and English is the right language for us at home - they found it virtually impossible to speak German to us.

Palika Sat 07-Dec-13 21:14:05

we brought up DS14 bilingual, I am German, Dad is British, I only talk German to DS and insist on getting German answers otherwise I pretend that I do not understand. When dad is around we all speak English - not ideal, but whatelse can you do if dad does not understand German?

DS has passed his German GCSE last year with an A*

However, it was not easy to get here. Lots and lots and lots of reminders, star charts, berating, bribes and rewards and on very rare occasions very small negative consequences, as well.

DS is now fluent speaker but has all the usual anglicisms that you'd expect and can't pronounce the German 'r'. He can also read books and has done so on occasion. (I taught him to read - lots and lots and lots of work, too) But he can't write - this was too much as he was not very good in school and had to work very hard to be ok.

I think that the idea that children just simply pick up the language is a myth. The reality is a lot more mixed.

WaspsAnkles Tue 31-Dec-13 16:17:56

We do a relaxed version of opol here as well.
Dh is English and I'm German living in Germany at the moment.
We fully expected ds to be a bit slow about starting top speak but he did start in the summer just a couple of months before his 2nd birthday so quite normal really. Unsurprisingly he first only spoke German as he's exposed to that a lot more - I'm a sahm speaking mainly german I'm, grandparents only speak German and he's in German playgroup 3 days a week. However, dh continued speaking German with him and when the English grandparents came to visit his English really started taking off. He's now speaking both with a clearer pronunciation in English but a larger vocab in German. I'm hoping stay quite relaxed about different phases as I've read they will have preferring one language or another but sounds to me like what with hearing issues you don't have to be too concerned,blogging. He's probably just taking his time and will start when he's ready!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now