How long did it take your DCs to assimilate the local language?

(21 Posts)
BertieBotts Tue 01-Apr-14 12:44:08

Especially if you were not so hot on it yourselves.

heather1 Tue 01-Apr-14 14:42:49

Ds1 6 months to understand a fair bit. 1 year to talk. Ds2 a bit quicker. Please don't believe ppl who say they will be fluent in 6 months. I have found that to be utter rubbish.
It also depends on other things, are the happy at school/playgroup, do they want to be in the country, do they have a problem with language (ds1 we discovered has a language processing problem), are you positive about the country you are living in etc.
Try not to worry as it will come

NaturalBaby Tue 01-Apr-14 14:49:29

I know a mum who's been here 15months and says the school have just dropped her child's extra language lessons. They couldn't speak a word of the local language when they arrived.
We've been here 1 month so I'm interested to see how long it takes my dc's, but they have to learn Swiss and German.

castlesintheair Tue 01-Apr-14 16:41:24

My eldest (12) has picked it up the quickest which surprised me as he's meant to have/had a language disorder and I just thought my youngest (7) would be quicker. The eldest 2 speak it quite well now. My youngest has just started to speak but seems to understand everything. So I'd agree: 6 months of "listening" and then usually up to a year to speak. Fluency comes after 2+ years imo. DH is fluent, I'm ok btw. We only speak English at home so that has just come from school.

castlesintheair Tue 01-Apr-14 16:45:03

Sorry meant to say they've been at school/exposed to the langauge since September so about 6 months, or less with all the holidays.

LillianGish Tue 01-Apr-14 16:54:33

I think it depends on the age of the child. My dcs quickly became fluent in German when we lived in Germany in spite of being at a French school. DD was nearly four when we moved and after about 18 months was in the German mother tongue group for German at school - to my absolute astonishment. Sad to say they also lost it pretty quickly when we left Germany though dd (now 13) is learning German at school and finding it is all coming back to her especially the accent which apparently sounds native!

BertieBotts Tue 01-Apr-14 17:22:13

Yes, see, we've been here 6 months and I was getting slightly worried because people kept telling me they would take 6 months grin

DS understands a bit, and apparently when friend's mum picked him up today for a playdate they spoke in German all the way home but with me he doesn't speak it or seem to understand it and I've heard that's quite common. DH has more luck getting him to talk than me!

NaturalBaby am I right in thinking you're the poster who I once met at the Leamington sling meet? If so, how funny that we've both moved to German speaking countries smile

LillianGish Tue 01-Apr-14 18:23:50

Your ds almost certainly speaks more than you know. I only ever spoke English to my dc who would never have dreamed of speaking to me in in German. I would tell friends the dcs didn't speak German only for them to say what do you mean? They speak it all the time at my house/ with my dcs. If I asked them to speak Gerrman with me they would say what's the point - you don't speak German! That was me told!

BertieBotts Tue 01-Apr-14 18:33:32

Haha! I wish I could be a fly on the wall. Fascinating isn't it?

LillianGish Tue 01-Apr-14 18:42:33

It is fascinating - especially when it is a language you don't speak. I remember my daughter explaining in great detail the arrangements for a barbecue to a German speaking neighbour who came to the door - and then patiently translating everything for me. She was six at the time!

PortofinoRevisited Tue 01-Apr-14 19:54:30

Dd went to maternelle aged 2.5. She rarely spoke (at school) for 6 months, but appeared to understand and seemed quite happy. After the first year it really clicked.

NaturalBaby Tue 01-Apr-14 20:03:22

Hello, yes that's me! I posted then checked back and thought your name was familiar.
Is he in school and can you/your DH speak German? My oldest is in school but they've all figured out that a lot of people can speak a bit of English so I'm expecting it to take a while longer. I can speak basic German so have been dropping in a few words for a while into general conversation.

WallyBantersJunkBox Tue 01-Apr-14 21:27:48

I think they take a lot in but it can be a while before they are confident to speak.

DS was pronounced fully bi-lingual for his level at his school end of year meeting last August - after two years. Took a bit longer because he does alternate immersion weeks in English and in German.

On playdates we generally agree to speak English to his German classmates and vice versa. His accent has been praised by some of the German parents, so he is obviously using his voice sometimes!

His English accent however, is now more American/Australian.

Longtime Wed 02-Apr-14 00:01:34

My dcs were born in Belgium and went/are going to French-speaking schools. My ds's are both living in the UK now (studying) and have been there for some years so I would imagine their French is not nearly as good as it was.

Dd is only 14 so still in the Belgian school system. We are both English-speaking though my French is pretty good. I would say that she is still not 100% bilingual and unless she ends up staying here and marrying a Belgian, never will be. Her French is great but she is still more comfortable in English (ie would prefer to read/watch tv/go to the cinema/speak) in English) than in French. There is a definite lack of adult vocabulary - this shows in her French lessons (for example when they are studying literature). When doing her Dutch homework, she has to translate into French (obviously). She sometimes knows the word in English but has to look it up in French. To be fair, this sometimes works the other way and she adds the occasional word in French into her English sentences (we all do it and really don't notice - it became obvious when ds1 came back with his Swedish girlfriend).

marcopront Thu 10-Apr-14 14:32:41

My daughter has been learning Hindi at school for nearly three years but not really speaking it anywhere else. Suddenly (at least to me) she's speaking it. She will explain to workmen what doesn't work in the house and after a conversation with a rickshaw driver explained to me a complicated thing about the lorry we were driving past. She's 7.

fussychica Fri 11-Apr-14 19:47:49

We went abroad in the March, by Christmas he was coping despite a 13 week summer break. By the time he moved to secondary in the following September he was totally fine. He kept up with everyone else in his class from that point and achieved good grades in final exams allowing him to go to university in the UK where he is studying Spanish, French & German. DH speaks the language quite well now but didn't for the first couple of years and I am still uselesssad. I am really pleased we moved when we did as the year in primary gave him time to learn and adjust before moving up.

IdealistAndProudOfIt Sun 13-Apr-14 19:02:41

Dd started local school (nederlands language) in jan 2013 and is now getting on a lot better. She can understand a lot that neighbours and shopkeepers say to her, and her teacher at schoolis very happy with progress. She's nearly 4 now. Bit difficult to say more as I don't speak more than a few words (keep trying but with 2 bad sleepers and lots of bugs it's hard).

I would say, ignore the advice on the internet about keeping your language environments separate, at least at first. It was only when I threw that out of the window and tried to use my few words in her hearing and read her nederlands books that she really started to improve. They need interest from parents to learn at this age. Time to put up barriers later.

eightandthreequarters Sun 13-Apr-14 19:07:15

At least a year to be confident. After 6 months, they were getting the hang of it.

And all those people who tell you that children just 'absorb' language like sponges... total rubbish. They work at it, too, in their own way.

BertieBotts Sun 13-Apr-14 19:10:43

We're definitely finding that his confidence is improving when we speak in German with him. We've started playing "German I spy" and I was tickled to hear that they don't say "I spy with my little eye" but "Ich sehe was du nicht siehst" (I see what you can't see)

My friend who speaks decent german and fluent English took him for a playdate the other day and said they all spoke German all the way home.

DH is enjoying reliving the babyhood he never had with DS by playing peepo in German grin

BertieBotts Sun 13-Apr-14 19:13:36

I tend to think that we don't need to worry about his English. He has had five solid years of exposure and understanding of English, he was talking in sentences at 2, he's always been articulate, even before he could talk he used baby signs and had a mixture of signing and speech for about a year.

I don't think he's going to forget English even if we speak a lot of German with him. We'll always automatically go into English at home and if we work at our German then he'll be more able to use it with us out and about.

Something funny I noticed the other day is that DH finds it really hard to switch between the two when we're in shops etc, whereas because I'm often with DS in a shop I can switch between "Come on, out of the way of the lady, that's right" and then asking/answering questions in German with the cashier.

mygrandchildrenrock Sun 13-Apr-14 19:16:26

We lived in the Caribbean for 5 yrs and my daughter spoke fluent Jamaican patwa after 6 months. I never did understand her!

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