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WHAT TO DO? moving back to Germany and would love for ds to stay/become bilingual

(16 Posts)
timsmama Sun 03-Aug-08 20:14:07

both me and dh are German, currently living in NW England. We have one ds (16 months) and another one on the way. We speak only GErman at home, but ds hears English everywhere else - and he does understand quite a bit of it.

we will probably be moving back to Germany within the next 6 months and I am trying to think of ways to ensure that dcs will stay/become bilingual. It would be such a shame to lose English as a language. One option I have thought about was for me to start speaking to dcs in English - but would that really confuse him? And what with all the upheavel of having another sibling added and moving to a completely different area, I am worried that this would have a real negative effect on him. Besides the fact that I would be speaking to him in a language which is not my mother tongue! I just dont know....

What do other people think???

Sorry about rambling on...

taipo Sun 03-Aug-08 22:44:27

Hi timsmama, we are bringing up our dc bilingually. I am British and dh is German.

I don't think it would have a negative effect on your ds if you started speaking to him in English although you may want to wait a bit (a few months maybe) until you've settled in. Or you could start now before you move. How about your dh? Would he speak English too?

I can see your point about speaking to him in a language which is not your mother tongue but I assume your English is pretty fluent so I can't see that being a problem except for overcoming your inhibitions at the beginning. I did meet a German woman here recently who spoke to her dc in English and, I think, fairly successfully.

timsmama Mon 04-Aug-08 08:31:12

hi taipo!
thank you very much for your reply!

yes, I did actually think about starting to speak to him in English now but was just so unsure if it would effect him "psychologically" - he seems to be going through a bit of an insecure stage at the moment anyway and did not want to contribute to that.

it would only be me speaking ENglish. It is quite possible that eventually we will end up in an English speaking country again, so that way we will ensure that German will always be there. Plus dh's English is not that great grammatically

So where do you live? In Germany?

trockodile Mon 04-Aug-08 08:54:27

We are in Germany -dh is forces but ds goes to German kindergarten as I really agree with you about the benefits of speaking a second language.

If you say where you are going you may find other english speaking communities to socialise with. I go to an International church (English speaking) which has a good mix and obviously welcomes anyone (obviously you may not be religous) but they may help with eg finding an english speaking babysitter.

Keep with english dvds, things like cbeebies radio is good, you reading books in english should not confuse dcs.

SSSandy2 Mon 04-Aug-08 11:04:54

hi, it depends on where you will be living in Germany how much exposure your dc will have to English really. There are quite a few bilingual kindergartens these days which may be a good option for you, and in larger towns, there should be a fair number of English speaking families who will have various organised activities.

I've heard it isn't a very friendly forum, so I never use it but you could try toytown.de and see if there are ENglish speaking toddler groups etc near where you will be living.

I don't think it will have a negative effect on ds if you start speaking to him in English. He is still very young and presumably not speaking much yet. However, I am not sure whether, once you yourself are in a German speaking environment, you will be able to continue to provide a good model for English for him. Depends how good your English is and how much you will be speaking it once you're living in Germany IYSWIM

timsmama Mon 04-Aug-08 20:11:40

trockodile - contacting an international church is a good idea. Though not a church goer myself, maybe we find soemone that way who could spend time with dcs on regular basis and speak English to them!

We already have a mixture of German and English books, so will def keep that up.

sssandy - thanks for the tip re toytown - just had a very brief look and looks really good! we arent sure where exactly we will be moving too - dh is still in the interview process at the mo, but it will def be a bigger city. Probably either Hamburg, Cologne or Frankfurt.

To me speaking English to dcs would feel like a sacrifice (I would be willing to make). My English is very good a I have spend a third of my life so far in English speaking country, so the ability wouldnt be the problem - but I feel that so much more emotion lies in my mother tongue. If I do find plenty of toddler groups etc in the area, maybe it would not be necessary - as toddler groups are the main place where he gets to hear English at the moment too.
thanks very much for everyone's suggestions!

Califrau Mon 04-Aug-08 20:19:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

timsmama Mon 04-Aug-08 20:28:53

Wow, that library sounds amazing, Califrau! I dont think we will be as far south as Stuttgart though. Dh is looking for work but we have kind of made Frankfurt the "boundary" - we are both from the north and dont want to go any further than Frankfurt. But hopefully other cities will have similar schemes going!

berolina Mon 04-Aug-08 20:36:18

I (English, dh German, living in Berlin, we do OPOL) am sometimes a little hmm about German parents speaking English to their dc, but your English in your posts is really excellent, plus you have actually lived there so have established bilingualism already and have a real solid reason to iykwim, so I can see it working well with you speaking English. You do need to support that with cultural input, especially because it's not your mother tongue - lots and lots of books, story CDs etc. In your case a bilingual kindergarten would be really important too.

berolina Mon 04-Aug-08 20:37:23

Oh I think at your ds' age he would adapt well to the change. I would start now though.

MmeLindt Mon 04-Aug-08 20:37:56

Hi,
we are in NRW and there are quite a lot of options here for keeping up DCs English. There are a few English speaking kindergartens, mainly private ones though so likely to be pretty expensive.

I would not be too worried about speaking English to your DCs. I am Scottish and DH German, I speak a mixture of English and German with our DCs and always have. DD is 6yo and fairly fluent in English. DS is 4yo and getting better, especially after spending 3 weeks with my parents.

Their main language is German and if we were to stay in Germany then we would do more to keep up their English. We are going to Switzerland soon so we will be adding French to the mix and I am confident that they will manage.

There is a very friendly English church in Köln/Bonn with a Sunday School.

MmeLindt Mon 04-Aug-08 20:39:26

I agree with Berlina about your English skills btw, your English is better than my German and I speak German with my DCs.

DD does correct my grammar now though

taipo Mon 04-Aug-08 22:55:35

I get corrected too by dc when I speak German! Mainly it's the genders I get wrong, after years and years of learning and speaking German I still can't remember the gender of some pretty basic words blush

Atm dd speaks both languages equally well. When we first moved here she still had an English accent when she spoke German but that is disappearing very fast. I don't think ds feels entirely confident speaking German yet as he makes some odd mistakes sometimes, mainly confusing the cases. I haven't heard German children his age make similar mistakes. I have resigned myself to the fact that very soon German will be the stronger language for both of them but I'm determined that they shouldn't forget their English.

SSSandy2 Mon 04-Aug-08 23:05:15

good luck with the move timsmum. Hope it all works out well for your family

Bero, if you are still looking for a kiga for ds, someone told me about this bilingual one in Zehlendorf (Oskar-Helene-Heim opposite the American church, so just down the road from QB):

here

I was told they have been competing with teh English speaking MOntessori one which is round the back of the church building itself. Maybe you could have a look at both of those one day? There is also CSA which I think costs around 300 /month and is located on Hüttenweg (Oskar-Helene-Heim) again but not sure exactly where it is. The American Embassy would know though. Staff are Philippinos apparently.

Sorry about the hijack! Just sprang to mind. Waves to taipo

timsmama Sun 10-Aug-08 13:37:13

Hi ladies!
I am sorry, I didnt mean to ignore all your recent posts, just have been very busy and havent had the chance to reply.
Thank you very much for all suggestions (and compliments blush)!

I decided to start speaking English with ds, and he is absolutely fine with it. At first he looked at me in a funny way, and for me it felt strange for the first few hours - but now it feels normal both for me and him. I find it amazing how a little person like him can already understand two languages!

I will definetly be continuing with English books and DVDs, and will be looking for English toddler groups. Not sure about international pre-schools - firstly they seems really expenisve and am not sure we will be able to afford it. But also because that would mean that neither ds nor me will be making friends in the neighbourhood (as I expect we will have to drive to any international pre-schools).

Anyway, thank you very much for your posts, and I might meet you again on toytowngermany once we are in Germany wink

CEDP Mon 11-Aug-08 14:41:17

Hi Timsmama,
I am English with German DH and two bilingual sons - we live in Frankfurt. There is a thriving expat community here so quite a few English playgroups - some more formal and expensive, and some run by mums (and cheap). The whole bilingual thing is interesting to watch - DS1 (nearly 6) is fluent in both, but has preferences in phases. And just lately he has started using German sentence structure when he speaks English, which has us all confused! Let me know if you end up in Frankfurt!

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