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Speaking English

(59 Posts)
MrsVioletBottom Fri 06-Jan-17 22:01:26

I have recently been visiting my daughter and her family in Germany, where they have lived for several years. She has 1DD who is 4 years old. Her husband is German.

They made the decision when my GD was born, that he would speak only in German and DD only in English to GD. In order that she would be bilingual. This has worked out really well, so far.

My DD informed me when I arrived that she would only be conversing with my GD in German whilst I was visiting, because SIL felt that GD was speaking English too much. Therefore she needed to concentrate on German.

I spent the whole of my visit, feeling totally excluded and miserable. Not only was German only, spoken when he was present but also when DD, GD and I were alone.

I came home feeling like I never wanted to go back. Am I wrong to feel like this, or

MrsVioletBottom Fri 06-Jan-17 22:03:30

Meant to add, I speak very little German.

Sirzy Fri 06-Jan-17 22:03:52

I wouldn't like that either doesn't sound very welcoming.

Can you do a German course so you can at least understand the basics next time?

longdiling Fri 06-Jan-17 22:04:33

Oh that does sound miserable, poor you sad

Maybe they are right to focus on the German generally but surely not when you're around?!

I have no idea how you would address this though. Do you get on with your son in law generally or was he deliberately trying to leave you out?

early30smum Fri 06-Jan-17 22:05:18

YANBU if you don't speak German. I get that if they feel her German is falling behind they want to talk to her more in German, but if you don't speak/understand the language and are over for a visit it seems pretty unfair of them to insist on it.

Bluesrunthegame Fri 06-Jan-17 22:07:00

It was a bit mean of SIL to decide to do this when you are visiting, why did your DD not postpone speaking German only until after you had left?

Lweji Fri 06-Jan-17 22:07:24

Odd time to choose to speak German.
I presume you regularly talk to both on the phone/ skype/ whatever?

Lweji Fri 06-Jan-17 22:08:50

Also, do you think their relationship is ok?

Backingvocals Fri 06-Jan-17 22:11:40

Oh I'm sorry. That doesnt sound right. Did your SIL appear welcoming in other ways?

TheUpsideDown Fri 06-Jan-17 22:12:23


Knowing that you don't speak much German I find it rather rude that English wasn't spoken at all during your visit.

I understand if she's speaking English too much they will want to focus more on Germany, but surely it could've been relaxed for some of the time. I think it's so inconsiderate.

How is your relationship with your SIL - do you get along?

PlymouthMaid1 Fri 06-Jan-17 22:12:45

That sounds very thoughtless and rude. Did you say anything to your DD after a day or so?

Aderyn2016 Fri 06-Jan-17 22:12:51

I think it is really rude to speak a language you don't understand fully, esp when you are only there for a short time and it wouldn't damage dgd's language abilities to speak English with you for a few weeks.

Why didn't you tell your dd to stop being a pita? I can't get my head around people eho put up with rude behaviour or don't speak homestly to their own children, then come home all miserable and complain. As sympathetic as we might be (and I am, honestly), nothing we say has the power to change anything - you need a frank discussion with your dd.

SpringSpringSpring Fri 06-Jan-17 22:14:59

Sounds awful for you and v odd in terms of lang development - it's usually very important to be consistent with the one parent one language rule.

bonbonours Fri 06-Jan-17 22:15:36

I think your dd was being very inconsiderate of you in doing this tbh. You didn't say how long you were there for but I'm assuming in the context of your grandchild's language development it was quite a short time. Sounds to be like they are overthinking it, and being exposed daily to both languages is going to make sure she us bilingual. Also surely if she is living in Germany she is getting more exposure to German than English on the whole. I would try to explain to your daughter how excluded you felt, and hope that another time she reconsiders. It's hard enough for a grandparent living in a different country to feel connected without throwing an unnecessary language barrier into it.

ChilliMum Fri 06-Jan-17 22:16:38

Oh I am so sorry, I think that is rotten. Even if they believe she needs to concentrate on the German I am sure taking a break while you were visiting wouldn't have made a difference.
If they are living in Germany I am surprised this is an issue. We are in France, dh and I are English. Ds(6) has lived here nearly his whole life and we only speak English at home but his French is better because his school is in French, all his clubs and activities are in French and most importantly his friends all speak French. Even in an entirely english speaking home he probably spends more than half his week speaking French. In fact we were getting a bit worried about his slightly rubbish english but that was fixed after he spent a couple of weeks in the UK with my parents last summer grin

SadTrombone Fri 06-Jan-17 22:18:19

How long were you visiting for? Surely 'full German mode' could have been suspendedoing for the duration of your visit??
Assumming you weren't there for months - YANBU

Cherrysoup Fri 06-Jan-17 22:18:31

For a visit of not massive duration, I think your dd was rude and unreasonable (and I speak multiple languages, so not being xenophobic!)

SadTrombone Fri 06-Jan-17 22:18:53

...*suspended (not suspendedoing)

TheAntiBoop Fri 06-Jan-17 22:19:17

We would love mil to speak her (and dh's) language but she wants a relationship with the kids so speaks English. That's the way it goes.

Your dd was very rude. So were you basically not allowed to speak with your gd?

BIgBagofJelly Fri 06-Jan-17 22:19:57

I would feel left out too. I was also under the impression that while it's great to do one parent one language it can be very unsettling for the child if the parent changes the language they normally speak to them in (even to one they already understand). I think it would be fine to politely let your daughter know how it made you feel. I think it would be fine for your daughter's DH to continue speaking to DD in German but the rest of you could surely have spoken in English! (I have friends who spoke to their DC's in languages other than English and would continue to do so while I was there but the rest of the adults spoke in English)

Lunde Fri 06-Jan-17 22:21:33

I understand that the "one parent - one language" works well for many families - but to go totally over to SIL's language during a visit from a non German speaker seemed odd timing and rather rude. If SIL wants the children to speak better German it sounds as though he needs to work on it

Is the SIL stressing about the children not being perceived as speaking "good enough" German and getting a backlash from his family? Is there also a fear in the current climate of the children being identified as "immigrants" and possibly being abused in public - I had an American friend living in Denmark who was abused on a bus by a complete stranger for speaking English to her 2 year old. One of my daughters was also abused for her English heritage in Sweden

With our own kids we tended to speak one language in the home and the native language outside - it means the neither of our children speak dh's language but we have few contacts with that country

user1472557500 Fri 06-Jan-17 22:23:44

awful for you and totally unreasonable. I say this as a person who has a bilingual child who is 4 and I speak English and the Father speaks other language to child. We live in dominant language country and any opportunity to speak English with English relations should be embraced.

To say a 4 year old must concentrate on the dominant language that they are already living in everyday even though their GM is visiting who cannot speak the dominant language is ridiculous and offensive to you.

That 4 year old doesn't need to concentrate on German, they live in the dominant language country (it'd be unreal if they didn't end up with excellent German) - in fact what they should of done is taken the opportunity to strengthen English and include the children's GM.

So angry for you

ExitPursuedBySantaSpartacus Fri 06-Jan-17 22:24:50

Failing to understand where SIL fits into the equation.

It was beyond rude to insist on speaking German during your visit. As they live in Germany she will be surrounded by that language so chatting to mum and grandma in English is hardly going to set her back.

ReturnfromtheStars Fri 06-Jan-17 22:25:11

Oh dear, poor you that sounds miserable.

This does not even make sense, even without looking at child-grandparent relationship. Since they live in Germany, your granddaughter is surrounded by German language, surely it will be ore difficult to keep her English up? Especially when she starts nursery and school. If her English is stronger, than well done to your DD, everything is going as it should.

I really hope you will go again, just for the sake of your grandchild who does not have a choice in it. I am sure she will want to speak English with you and have lots of fun together.

TimeIhadaNameChange Fri 06-Jan-17 22:28:33

How horrible for you. And very strange as well. As well as breaking the OPOL 'rules' if they are planning on staying in Germany then she'll be more exposed to German than English, especially once she's at school, so I really can't see it being a problem even if she is behind just now.

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