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Any advise on how the get DH to learn German

(19 Posts)
ilkainnorthants Sun 28-Sep-08 21:33:59

I'm German, speaking German only to my sons (1.5 and 4.5). I keep this up all the time, also when any English speakers are around. So far ds1 only answers back in English but we make a little progress every now and then, especially on holiday with the family in Germany. My husband does not speak any German though, so he's always clueless as to what I am talking about. We've been living together for 7 years now and he has not picked up any German. Does anybody have some tips on how to get hubby on the right track? It's always as if he just switches off as soon as he hears German. And evening classes won't work, he always hated school and with his on the road job we never know when he comes home in the evening anyway. Grateful for any advise.

piratecat Sun 28-Sep-08 21:37:02

hmm, tough one. my ex dh was german, but wouldn't speak a word of german to our dc. I think he did it to piss his parents off tho.

If he really doesn't have any inclination to learn, you are not going to be able to force him.

I think, both german and english should be spoken at home if your dh can't understand german, other wise he's going to feel pushed out.

Brangelina Sun 28-Sep-08 21:45:01

I have the same problem, DP doesn't speak English, or at least won't admit it. He insists he is a dunce at languages and makes no effort. I have noticed, however, that after 3 years of me speaking exclusively in english to DD, he appears to understand more than he gives away. He asks me to translate less frequently and I've caught him singing nursery rhymes under his breath. I also managed to "lose" him in another country and he had to use English to get back to the hotel and he managed fine.

I'm actually quite horrified that he might be able to understand me when I grumble about him on the phoneblushshock.

Seriously though, are you absolutely certain he hasn't absorbed anything? I would suggest "losing" him somewhere in Germany but far too many people speak English. Other than that I don't really know what to suggest, apart from perhaps a 2 week survival course in the wilds with non English speakerssmile.

I shall be watching this thread with interest....

ilkainnorthants Sun 28-Sep-08 21:58:23

Brangelina - know what you mean about the grumbling on the phone. I am very much used to just happily rumble on about whatever DH had done when talking to mys sisters. With the children it has started to backfire though as ds1 goes straight to daddy and tells him in English what mummy has just said blush

As for his motivation, he's always keen to learn some German when we just come back from a holiday with my family. It never lasts long though.

Tried the tapes in the car as he is driving around so much, but again the switch went and he just found Radio5 much more appealing.

I only translate at home when absolutely necessary, like when I told a ds that he can't have anything or when they have been told off.

If Apple software were only available in German he would have probably made progress by now.

FAQ Sun 28-Sep-08 22:03:05

Just to come from the other side on this one.

I lived in Zimbabwe for 2 1/2yrs, from the moment I got there I tried to learn Shona, I met my exH 1yr into my stay there, and despite him talking to me in Shona it just didn't "click". We were together 9yrs and despite his family talking (mostly) in Shona when they were together I still can't speak a word blush

As for the getting him lost thing.......I wasn't lost, but we were in the middle of nowhere visiting his elderly aunt 2yrs ago (8yrs after we'd got together) and she hardly spoke any English at all. So all the conversation was in Shona - I can honestly hand on heart say I have absolutely no idea what was talked about, except for when exH translated for me.

moondog Sun 28-Sep-08 22:05:19

Pirate, it is the dh who is pushing himself out. Why on earth should the OP stop speaking her mother tongue because of his sloth??

If you do, your kids' German will never develop which may be a source of great sadness and anger in future.

FAQ Sun 28-Sep-08 22:09:14

regardless of whether it's laziness, or (like me) complete inability to pick it up I agree with moondog that you should continue to speak German to your DC.

One thing I do regret is that exH hardly ever spoke in Shona to the boys, and as a result they don't understand/speak any at all. I asked him many times to talk to them in Shona, and sometimes he would for a few days, then he would lapse back into speaking English.

Obviously now we're not together anymore and he only sees them once a fortnight the opportunity for them to have a knowledge of that part of who they are is gone sad

annasmami Mon 29-Sep-08 10:28:35

Ilka, I am in excactly the same position: my English speaking dh and me (German) are raising our children bilingually using OPOL (one person, one language) and we too live in the UK.

My dh has been trying to learn German in different ways (evening classes, intensive course in Germany and more recently, he has joined the German Saturday School adult class). German IS a difficult language to learn as an adult, but both dh and I want our children to be bilingual so he is willing to make that effort. He still doesn't understand everything the children and I say to each other, but then either the I or the children translate for him. Increasingly my 6 year old 'tests' daddy's German - very funny smile.

One thing you could try is to only speak in German and let him answer back in English, and that with perhaps a holiday (combined with a language course) in Germany should hopefully slowly improve his German.

But please don't give up speaking to your children in German. I know of several families where English has eventually pushed out the minority language, because children will only use a language if the 'have to'.

Where do you live? My son is also 4.5 years and we are always looking for German friends. We live in Surrey.

ilkainnorthants Mon 29-Sep-08 17:44:24

Annasmami, it's great to hear that it isn't just me. I envy you abit for the effort your DH makes to learn German. I never thought of booking a German course while on holiday in Germany. Maybe if all the family would take part we wouldn't even need that. Unfortunately all Germans love the chance to practice their English, so DH never has to make too much of an effort(apart from my parents, but somehow DH isn't all to disappointed about not being able to speak to his in laws hmm

We live in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, what's unfortunately not all that close to Surrey. I've been on the look out for German friends. Tried mumsnet before, but no luck in this area. But maybe if there are any weekend things going on, we could come your way. Would be great.

annasmami Mon 29-Sep-08 21:50:03

I know what you mean about Germans wanting to practice their English - when someone has only the slightest English accent, people jump at the opportunity to practice their English smile. My dh has the same 'problem' when in Germany.

It seems that your dh needs a 'start' in German (if not a class perhaps a self-teach course?). At least he will then understand the basics of what the kids and you are saying and will then probably start to pick up quite a bit from that. Good luck!

ilkainnorthants Mon 29-Sep-08 22:29:24

Has anyone tried to put labels on everything in the house. I'm only a bit worried what the house would look like with text lables on every piece of furniture. But maybe I wouldn't have to do it that long?

FAQ Mon 29-Sep-08 22:31:22

hey ilkainnorthants - I'm in Wellingborough too smile

noramum Tue 14-Oct-08 11:14:55

My friend had the problem (she German, he Irish , living in the Netherlands but his business brought him a lot to Germany).

She just refused to speak Englisch or Dutch at home when she realised he didn't make any effort to pratice. He had some basic understanding but couldn't really speak it.

After a couple of weeks it got better and he now speaks fluent German.

bran Tue 14-Oct-08 11:26:54

Is there a Goethe Institute near your family in Germany? I learnt German very quickly at the Goethe Institute in Berlin when I was living there. I did a 3 hour class every morning, but they do full day classes as well.

I don't actually think that German is all that difficult for an English speaker as the thought process is similar. DH is Malaysian and I have found Malay virtually impossible to learn as the grammer simply doesn't exist to say what I want to say. (Warning: wild generalisation coming up) Being precise is just not terribly important in the Malay language. Being polite, however, is and I could never manage to use the right word for 'you' and was forever offending or amusing people. If you think knowing the right situation to use "du" or "sie" is complicated, try speaking a language with more than 10 words for "you".

ilkainnorthants Tue 14-Oct-08 21:12:39

thank you for all the advice, I just suggested to DH that I would speak German only at home. He is asking for a gentle build up, so maybe we start with an hour a day. Looking forward to it.

Bienchen Sat 18-Oct-08 21:07:33

Ilka, I live in Kettering. DH us English and does not speak German. DD will hopefully b bilingual, too early to say she is just a toddler.

And just to hijack the thread, there is a German Mums and kids meet up in Kettering, you are welcome to find out more.

ilkainnorthants Sun 19-Oct-08 21:14:49

Oh brilliant Bienchen, when and where do you meet? I'd love to come along and bring my boys.

Bienchen Mon 27-Oct-08 14:52:02

Ilka, we usually meet Thu afternoons at 3:30. We take it in turns to host, yes and the host is expected to provide tea/coffee/cake... grin

You can email me bienchen at hotmail dot co dot uk and I can give you further info. How old are your boys?

iMum Mon 27-Oct-08 14:54:00

Watch the bourne identity together and make a point to him about how sexy matt damon is when he speaks german (this worked for me) but if he really isnt interested then theres not alot you can do!

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