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?
DD is nearly 6 and we are a German household but DD's main language is English as she attended nursery from 11 months for 4 days a week.
Until she was 3 we hardly read English books to her but in the end it was just not possible to carry on being a German-only house. And honestly I don't want to. We live here, I can't take the outside world away from her and she needed to be fluent in english to attend school.
She is now in Year 1 and you wouldn't know she is actually bilingual, she has a very Sout-East London accent.
She speaks German with an English Grammar and often struggles to find the right word. We don't have German friends but spend each year our main holiday in Germany. Passiv is her German perfect.
Unless we are in English speaking company we only speak German to her.
We had the reverse noramum - DS spoke English with the German grammatical. He was bilingual from starting speaking till about aged 8 - he then chose English only (English school) and now (nearly 11) claims to know no German - oddly enough he follows German instructions and sometimes watches German films (Wild Boys!)
Completely bilingual here.....but Welsh and English.
omletta That's exactly what I am worried about. We hope that he can spend his summers with his family in Germany when he is a bit older so he keeps speaking German.
It's a real challenge. We are an English family who lived in Germany - so the opposite of you?
Had we remained in the German community I am sure that we could have maintained the mix however a sudden family situation bought us home and he went to English school where he was found to be behind - unsurprising given that in Germany the kindergarten goes on on until aged 6, where as in the UK its all pressure, targets and achievements from about aged 4 - the school told me to decide a language and stick to it! I didn't much like their approach but felt powerless to argue. DS choose English, even though he was stronger at German, but of course all of his new (cool) friends spoke only English.
I am sure that it must be possible to maintain the two, especially with bilingual parents and lost of the non educational language speaking friends and activities. When your DS goes to school you will need to make them aware of his bilingualism and of its importance to you. I just got fed up with m bilingualism beng blamed for his failure to make progress. And actually a few years on it turns out it was a load if tripe anyway and he is almost certainly dyslexic.
We're a UK family in Germany - and are trying to bring up the 3DCs as bilingually as possible.
No UK tv - only english DVDs - which sometimes the older two prefer to watch in German anyway. All 3 have been immersed in German kindergarten, though the oldest 2 are at an international school now.
Sometimes they play together in german which I find a bit odd - and certainly DS1 has no trouble switching between languages.
DS2 - 1 when we moved here now almost 6 - has the most German grammar/sentence construction and choice of word in English - which sounds 'wrong' to my English ears.....
DD2 (3) started kiga in August so is just beginning to speak some German.
It's interesting to note that they are good at adjusting to whatever language they are spoken to in - such as in restaurants they can reply directly in German / understand what's being asked of them.
We try when out of the house to speak german - but mine isn't really good enough for this and I struggle sometimes - but we all speak English at home.
It's a very interesting 'experiment' to be watching first hand.
We live in the UK, I'm German, the husband's English, kids are being brought up OPOL and I speak English with my husband- as I work full time, their exposure to German is reduced, however they also have German DVDs, CDs, at bed time I will read only German books to them.
There's also a few other German kids in town, 2 of them at my children's nursery.
English is obviously the stronger language, but when they address me in English I answer in German, and ask them to speak German to me. There's a lot of pidgin/mixing of languages going on, but I'm not too concerned about it, as that's to be expected.
Also struggling here. We've just come back from two weeks in Germany and I was disappointed that my two more or less refused to speak German. dd1 is 5 and since starting school in the Uk English has taken over completely. She understands German and speaks well when pushed (her grandparents don't speak English). She starts at a German Saturday School next week and I hope meeting other bilingual children will help her realise it's a 'real' language, not just something I try to get her to speak at home. I no longer do OPOL because it's completely impractical with homework etc.
dd2 is 3 and claims she knows no German, but understands everything. I hope hearing her older sister speak it will prompt her to follow suit. At the moment the girls speak only English to each other.
Ime a lot of children go through these phases where they refuse to speak one or other of their languages. I think it helps if you can be fairly laidback about it, just continue doing what you're doing and not let it become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Our ds went through a phase where he refused to speak English for a period of about 6 months- very awkward as we live in the UK, all his friends spoke English, he went to an English speaking childminder's and an English speaking playschool. He used his older sister as an interpreter or simply refused to communicate at all. I was getting worried about his starting school until he went to a performance at his sister's school and as we got out he turned to me and said "When I go to school, I shall speak English". Phewww, huge sigh of relief!
We live in the UK, I'm Swiss-German, DH is British. I speak German to DS for about 90% of the time, DH only speaks English, I speak English to DH. No German TV (yet), but lots of books (which only I can read to him, though). No German playgroups, we both work full time and don't have any around here at weekends (not that I know of anyway).
DS is 22 months and not speaking much at all yet - at least not that we can understand! But he understands a lot in both languages. The few words we do understand are mostly English, although he has started saying 'bus' both in English and German pronounciation, depending on who he speaks to.
I'm a bit realxed with OPOL, as I find it incredibly hard switching between languages when with other people that don't speak German, in that situation I tend to stick with English, otherwise I lose the plot and start speaking German to the English people.
I've heard about bilingual DCs refusing one language from lots of friends, so I'm expecting that as well. I think that as the only one who is speaking German with DS regularly, I'm pretty much in the loosing position - but as long as he understands it and can speak when prompted, that's OK with me.
I wouldn't make any assumptions about being in a losing position yet, JBrd; it depends on so many factors- personality of child, other factors triggering an interest in Germany later in childhood etc etc.
Since dd got old enough to go on facebook, I am no longer her only daily purveyor of Swedish- very far from it. Suddenly she has a whole circle of Swedish teens among her (virtual) friends. I never had that in learning English, but I just happened to be interested in languages, so I taught myself to quite a high level before I had ever even met a native speaker. Lots of things can happen, never write anything off.
cory you're right, thanks for reassuring. I think it will really depend on how we manage it, trying not to put any pressure on DS (and any other future DCs) regarding language. I just want him/them to associate German with fun and nice things, and ideally, he'll use it without making any conscious effort... We'll see.
Can anyone recommend German DVD/TV programms for a 2-year old? All I have at the moment is 'Urmel aus dem Eis' from the Augsburger Puppenkiste, but that's still a bit too advanced for DS. I have no clue anymore about German TV, I left over 15 years ago, so any recommendations would be appreciated!
Jbrd Laura's Stern is very sweet, possibly better for slightly older children though. Der Sandmann must be age-appropriate. DD probably watched the odd episode of Biene Maja at that age, but I don't suppose she could follow it. I will try to think of any more, but we're in the opposite situation and have mostly English DVDs at home.
JBrd A big hit with my just 3 year old has been Kikaninchen and Trotro which we found on utube. Also Der kleine Maulwurf (although he doesn't actually speak...
The 5 year old loves Pippi Langstrumpf, Bullerbue, Der kleine Eisbaer on DVD and discovered Biene Maja over Easter.
Hi, bit off topic, but is there a German corner on MN? I need to brush up my German for work and it would be nice to chat auf deutsch.
Jbrd just remembered Die Sendung mit der Maus (never seen it, but have 20pc jigsaws with the characters on, so it must be aimed at fairly ound children).
style not as far as I know. We have a Living in Germany thread, but we all chat in English as it's kind of the point to escape the German world around us . i have seen the odd chat thread in pidgin German/English, but I don't think they last very long and probably wouldn't help you improve your German much anyway.
DieSendung mit der Maus is great but the characters don't talk either...
Dh wishes he'd been brought up like this - his Dad is German, mum Irish. Sadly, I speak more German than dh does, his dad wouldn't even help help with German homework from school.
It was pretty much decisive in persuading us to use bilingual education now. Though we both are only fluent in English (though I speak good Spanish, reasonable French) our dc have been educated since age 3 in Gaelic and English, and are now all completely fluent in both languages.
Not-very-strict OPOL used here. DD is 2.5 now and she talked a little late I suppose but we took it for normal as she has had a lot of different languages thrown at her.
I'm English with limited German, DH is Austrian and Eng/German/Dutch fluent, DD has a 2-day a week Hungarian nanny (who speaks to her in Hungarian) and 3-day a week Tagesoma (German). We lived for her first year in Holland (so Dutch KG for 9 months) and now live in Austria since she was 1 year old. All her DVD are in English, a few have the German option but it's rarely used (only when her older cousins come over- they are in an all-German environment). Books are 80:20 English:German. TV programs German (very minimal though). Skype to grandparents in their native languages.
After all that, she basically speaks German (90%) with a bit of English but will respond, in mostly-German, to questions in German/ English/ Hungarian.
I find it hard to understand how people can do OPOL REALLY strictly. E.G. My daughter wants my DH to read her a book, she picks an English one... what should be done according OPOL? - he reads it but translates to German as he goes? Refuses her choice and picks a German book or do I have to swap in and read it to her in English? For now, we just read what we're given, in whatever language it is. I will ask her to do things in English, she will reply in German and it's fine. She is definitely picking up gradually that it is Please to me and Bitte to papa.
Do the OPOL-hardcore get all their books in dual language? I think that rigid forcing/ not responding unless they "perform" in the right language is about the best way to put them off the minor language (which is mine at the moment). Am I going to have an illiterate mixed-patios speaker because I respond to both "please carry me" and "Bitte Trag Mir"?
Sendung md Maus - the weekly podcast (5 minute videos) is spoken German.... except for the few weeks it actually is the cartoon mouse and blue elephant doing things which are silent like NK said!
DS will be, we hope! We're all English but will be moving to Germany in the summer. DS is 4 so he will go to a German Kindergarten. Neither me or DP speak German currently although DP understands more than I do.
Non-strict OPOLer here too.
Our kids are 8 and 10yo now, brought up for the first years in Germany. DD spoke mainly English till Kindergarten, then mainly German. DS always mainly German.
Then moved to Geneva, where they learned French and spoke a lot of English. German only at home.
Now in UK, and they speak only English. DH has moved over, after a year in Germany so hoping that they will speak more German with him. They do manage fine when they speak to their German relatives though, so not too worried.
I haven't fussed about the language, have no rules of which books they can and cannot read, and with whom they may read them. They are quite comfortable switching between languages, and still speak reasonable French despite hardly speaking it at the moment.
When I we read an English book I'll translate it into German. I translate it as I go along. Big hit in our house is "Kleine Einsteins", Benjamin Blümchen and Pumuckl.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
Thank you very much ladies! I shall be all relaxed about it then
It is amazing how kids can just pick these things up, isn't it?!
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.
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?
"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]!"
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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!
Watching with interest as my dd (23) months is getting a wee bit confused. Me (English), DH (German), and nanny (south East Asian) all do OPOL.
DD now will create sentences like Go (Asian language) Book (German) Please (English). Am sure it will all come out in the wash but she can't be understood by anyone who does not speak those three languages...
Ophelia My DS (2.5yrs) does that too - he mainly speaks English, but every now and then, he'll use a German word for specific things. I reckon that they will be able to distinguish and switch between languages when asked to when they are older.
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