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    Resources for raising bilingual kids...


    Resources for raising bilingual kids...

    There are surely many here who have experiencing raising children with two languages (in our case, an English mother in Germany). Can anyone recommend books or websites which are particularly helpful? Thanks!
    Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 29 Mai 09, 14:15
    Why books or websites? Just talk to your child. My daughter was born in Australia. I was the only German speaker around her. We moved back to Germany in 1999 when she was almost 5. Her German was absolutely fluent and grammatically correct. No problems in kindergarden or at school. She's still fluent in English too and at school of course there are a lot of top marks.
    #1Verfasseroz29 Mai 09, 15:01
    Why books or websites? Just talk to your child. My daughter was born in Australia. I was the only German speaker around her. We moved back to Germany in 1999 when she was almost 5. Her German was absolutely fluent and grammatically correct. No problems in kindergarden or at school. She's still fluent in English too.
    #2Verfasseroz29 Mai 09, 15:24
    Hi EY, try this mailing list: http://www.nethelp.no/cindy/biling-fam.html

    A very good book with tips is "The Bilingual Family" by Harding/Riley.
    #3Verfasser CM2DD (236324) 29 Mai 09, 15:36
    Thanks for the recommendation. I found a thread here, too, where many people described their experiences.

    Just to clarify-I wasn't looking for worksheets or activities for the baby, rather for books about raising bilingual children or understanding language development and where problems might arise.

    #4Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 29 Mai 09, 17:17
    Hallo EY, haben wir nicht kürzlich bei LEO die Geburt deines Babys gefeiert? Sag bloß, es fängt schon zu sprechen an! Meine Güte, die Zeit fliegt :-) Ich wünsch dir viel Glück mit deinem Sprachprojekt!
    #5Verfasser Birgila/DE (172576) 29 Mai 09, 19:07
    Naja, auch wenn ich bestimmt das klügste Baby der Welt habe, wird es noch etwas dauern, bis sie spricht. Aber ich rede ja schon mit ihr, und mein Mann tut dies auch, und wir fragen uns deshalb, wie wir das am besten hinkriegen, dass sie später beise Sprachen beherrscht...
    #6Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 29 Mai 09, 20:08
    My sister's little boy is 3 months old and my mum sent a video of him "talking" to her - the kids and I were laughing at what an English accent he has! All he was saying is something like "Oh" - but imagine it in a really posh English accent! No other languages in their family, so I guess his babbling probably sounds quite different to my kids'.
    #7Verfasser CM2DD (236324) 29 Mai 09, 20:16
    I keep catching myself speaking baby talk with a caricatured German accent... Like saying "ze" instead of "the"... That's probably not ideal for a bilingual upbringing. ;)
    #8Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 29 Mai 09, 20:20
    Hi Ey - I remember congratulating you about 4 months ago. My kids are considerably older (going on 14 and 17) and in that day-n-age, we had neither internet nor CDs/DVDs. Unfortunately, Americans have a different TV system than Germany (PAL vs. NSC???), so I couldn't even have my family send videos. But I stuck to the system: I spoke English as much as possible to my kids (even while shopping ), read books, sang songs (eensy weensy spider, I'm a little teepot, this old man, etc.), had my family send every possible game or book, tried to immerse them as much as possible in English (they hear enough German, my husband and I speak German at home). Unfortunately, once they get into school (unless you send them to an international school), it gets difficult (try doing homework with your kids in English when they learn the lesson in German). I don't have any native English friends, I work for a German company, and am extremely well integrated in the German culture/lifestyle. My kids speak enough English to communicate with their American relatives, but German is obviously their "mother tongue". I love it when my kids use typical German expressions like " I have to clean my nose (Nase putzen- statt blow my nose) or when my daughter ends sentences with "or"(wir müssen das nicht tun, oder?). They rarely get A's (1s) in English in Gymnasium, because they are too lazy to work hard and take too much for granted. Who cares? I wish you the best of luck, do what's natural for you!!
    #9Verfasserwitch (AE)29 Mai 09, 20:59
    When we bought a DVD recorder a couple of years ago, I insisted we get one that was 'codefree' so that we can import DVDs with no problem. Now I record "Wer wird Millionär" for my mother, who is trying to get a headstart with German before her granddaughter passes her up, and I guess in a few years, my parents can record Sesame Street and send those discs in the other direction. ;) But I guess I would like television to be supplementary instead of the primary learning tool...

    I've already brought my favorite children's books (Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Greene Gables, The Boxcar Children) across the Atlantic, but the cheap bindings might fall apart if my daughter ever actually tries to read them...
    #10Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 01 Jun. 09, 17:34
    Ich glaube, oz hat schon Recht: Sprechen bewirkt schon sehr viel, und das Wichtigste ist wohl absolute Konsequenz. (Wir haben das leider nicht so gut hingekriegt.)
    #11VerfasserMeeee01 Jun. 09, 18:00
    EY, ich höre oft von bilingualen Familien, dass, sobald die Kinder in Kindergarten und Schule sind, keine Lust mehr haben, zwei Sprachen zu sprechen und sich auf die Sprache des Landes konzentrieren, in dem sie wohnen. Der Sohn einer Freundin hat immer in Englisch geantwortet, wenn sie Holländisch mit ihm gesprochen hat und gesagt, er bräuchte kein Holländisch, es würden sowieso alle nur Englisch reden. Sie ist aber dabei geblieben und hat nur Holländisch mit ihm gesprochen. Eine andere Freundin (Deutsche in England) war da auch sehr konsequent, obwohl sich der Sohn oft geweigert hat, Deutsch zu reden. Am Anfang hat er die Sprachen auch vermischt ("Oh, look, der Wind hat die page geturnt!".) Andere Freunde wiederum waren da nachlässiger mit dem Ergebnis, dass die Kinder die zweite Sprache zwar sehr gut verstehen, aber nicht ganz flüssig sprechen und schon gar nicht schreiben können.
    Ich stelle es mir schwer vor, konsequent zu bleiben, aber fände es auch schade, wenn meine Kinder meine Sprache nicht fließend sprechen könnten.
    #12Verfasserbarlu02 Jun. 09, 10:06
    Ey - I think it's a little early for "Little house on the prairie". Just this weekend, my 14-year old daughter cleaned out her room (that alone is remarkable!) and asked me to store 4 stuffed animals she had found (the figures from Maurice Sendak's "Where the wild things are"). That is an absolute must(the book, not the figures)! I told her I would put them in the basement, not throw them away, and she answered "Of course not! I want to give those to my own children!" Have your relatives send nursery rhymes and books, songs and poems, etc. and read, read, read (and sing, sing, sing) to your child. Also get some Richard Scarry books, it's great to point at the pictures and repeat what the object is in English (albeit BE).
    #13Verfasserwitch (AE)02 Jun. 09, 10:25
    Da das Sprechenlernen lange vor dem ersten eigenen Wort beginnt ist der Tipp viel mit dem Baby zu sprechen der wichtigste. Ich denke aber, dass auch ein wenig Theorie in Form von Literatur sinnvoll ist, da es sonst auch zu Frust kommen kann. Mein Sohn ist leider einsprachig, aber unsere Nachbarn erziehen ihre zwei Kinder zweisprachig. Die Mutter spricht weitesgehend russisch mit den Kindern, die Tochter (3) versteht meist alles, antwortet aber meist deutsch oder nur mit einem Wort auf russisch. Der Junge (7) spricht beide Sprache, aber deutsch ist ganz klar seine Muttersprache.
    Leider kann ich kein gutes Buch empfehlen.
    #14Verfasserxy02 Jun. 09, 10:33
    I've also met and heard of families where the children reply in the local language, but then I've also met other families like mine where the children really hate speaking to their parents in the "wrong" language, i.e. the local one. When we have monolingual German guests I constantly have to remind the kids that it is rude to have a big long conversation with me in English while our guests sit there unable to join in. My parents-in-law are not keen on English being spoken at their dinner-table, and it does seem rude.
    Being consistent about language use does not mean that you only ever speak your language with your kids: it can just mean that you always use a certain language in a certain situation.
    IMHO what is even more important than being strict is having fun with your language: the children need to associate your language with singing, playing, laughing, joking, doing wordplay, funny rhymes and alliteration, meeting and interacting with beloved family members, or even watching their favourite TV programmes and having a great time. Bombard the kids with chat before they start kindergarten, and after that make sure you keep doing stuff with them in English. (OK, it may be obvious, but it does help if you keep it in the back of your mind that whatever you do it's getting those words and grammar in their heads! Makes you slightly more likely to get off the sofa.)
    This weekend we were on a long car trip and had a podcast from a British radio show we played on the radio. As we listened we made funny comments, discussed the subject matter, repeated funny slogans, sang the theme tune with arm movements, and generally made fools of ourselves. Once or twice the kids asked what a word meant, and I explained, then we talked about that topic (so used the new word).
    When we got home we played badminton with some new shuttlecocks we'd bought, and had a big long discussion on the merits of nylon versus feather shuttlecocks until I think the kids now know that word by heart!
    #15Verfasser CM2DD (236324) 02 Jun. 09, 10:41
    Hi, Ich lebe in Belgien, habe 2 Kinder.Meine Muttersprache ist Ungarisch, die Kinder sprechen in der Schule Deutsch, die 2. Sprache ist Französisch.Ich habe zwar nur bis zum Anfang der Grundschule es durchziehen können, konsequent Ungarisch zu Ihnen zu reden, weil sie danach nicht mehr mit mir Ungarisch sprechen wollten :-(((, trotzdem sprechen sie beide Ungarisch( 14 und 16 Jahre).
    Meine Tochter geht in die bilinguale Abteilung zur Schule (Französisch-Deutsch).Auch kein Thema.Mach dir keine Sorgen, Kids sind schlauer, als man denkt.Es sind dann Phasen, wo sie die Sprachen mischen, aber das geht vorbei.Konsequenz ist eine gute Sache.Rede viel zu deinem Baby, alles kommt von sich selbst.Praktisch sind Bücher Kassetten, DVD-s.
    #16Verfasserchili32 (600207) 02 Jun. 09, 11:04
    @CM2DD: May I ask how old your kids are? You may have mentioned it in the other thread, but I can't remember. I ask because you talk about making the kids speak German when guests are there, which sounds as though you now speak both languages with them. I had a long discussion with my husband about this the other day, because he came home from school after talking to a French colleague who argued that I should be 100% consistent in speaking the minority langauge to my children, even if this might be perceived as impolite by others in our company. She apparently just ignored the kids if they tried to speak German to her, corrected them when they inadvertantly jarbled the two, and now her daughter is completely fluent in both German and French. I thought perhaps there is a point beyond which it is then feasible to think that everyone switches the language based on the context.
    #17Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 08 Jun. 09, 10:06
    Hi EY, they are 9 and 11. I don't really think of it as speaking both languages with them, as it doesn't happen that often, just when we are at the table with guests or talking with their friends about something the friends also need to know, for example. When the children were small, it happened even less often. When you are standing in a small lift with two German neighbours, though, you don't make friends by talking in a foreign language. I've heard that some people repeat things in that kind of situation: first English, then German, but I can't imagine that working well once you get past three-word sentences!

    I'd also say I am relatively strict: my son occasionally uses German words in English, and if so I ask him "What's that in English?" and make sure he uses the English word. But other than that I haven't had to enforce it much, as the kids have never tried speaking German to me. I think that's probably as I spent a lot of time with them in the first 5 years or so (they just went to kindergarten until lunchtime then we spent the afternoon talking English) and because even my husband uses English with us, so most of the weekend is in English.

    The kids get the tram home together and the other day they came in the door saying "That's funny, we were just talking German on the tram! Isn't that weird!" Apparently they had been speaking German with a friend on the tram and then didn't switch afterwards. I said "Oh dear, does that mean you're now going to start talking German all the time and forget your English?" and they laughed: my daughter said "No, English is easier!". I think that is my minimum "plan": to try to ensure that they don't find English hard - as long as they can say everything they need (appropriately to their age), they will keep using English.
    #18Verfasser CM2DD (236324) 08 Jun. 09, 10:27
    I also used the Bilingual Family book a few years back and was totally impressed. What I liked most of all was its descriptive rather than proscriptive style - it really didn't say 'this is the one way to raise bilingual kids correctly', but introduced a number of case studies of people in different circumstances who have made different choices. I think it's designed to give people confidence when surrounded by well-meaning relatives, colleagues, etc who just say 'you can't do that/it won't work/not in the child's interest'.

    We have it a bit easier than CM2DD possibly, because both parents are English native speakers, and we thus have no German family. Nevertheless, the one time we speak German at home together is when we have German guests, because it would be clearly rude otherwise. It gets complicated when we have school friends to visit whose first language is clearly German, but who understand some English, and at that point we change into the rule of keeping the conversation going in the same language as whoever started it.

    My younger daughter especially uses German words in her English, and I always ask her to repeat it in English. It's pure bilingual laziness on her part - she heard the word first in a German context and can't be bothered to translate to herself, although she would make that effort when talking to a non German-speaker. Both kids are true bilinguals in the sense that if you ask them which language is their native language, they have no answer, and indeed, they don't really understand what it means to only have one native language.

    We achieved the balance by only speaking (and singing!)English at home, supplemented with massive amounts of books and some videos (Teletubbies, I'm afraid), visits to family (playing with monolingual children in Wales and Ireland has been enormously helpful) and an international school where they were alphebetised in English first. I can recommend the BBC website in a few years time - good learning content and a mixture of activities and 'passive' stories.

    There is sometimes a difference between whether the 'foreign' parent is the mother or the father, ie, who is the primary care-giver. Children of an English father in Germany are less likely to speak active English (although passively it will be there) than children of an English mother. There are obviously exceptions to this.

    Best of luck!
    #19Verfasser yackydar (264012) 08 Jun. 09, 11:08
    What I liked most of all was its descriptive rather than proscriptive style
    That's right: it does make you feel more confident.
    As all the kids' friends are learning English I can also imagine that eventually we might use English with them too; at the moment they think it is quite cool, but just don't know enough to understand anything much.
    If you're thinking of having your little one in kindergarten you might also read this: http://content.tibs.at/kigamat/mat_02/hallo_h...
    - a pro-minority-language document from the German government: good defence against the clueless advice you will probably stumble over at some point!
    #20Verfasser CM2DD (236324) 08 Jun. 09, 11:18
    Thanks! I was silly enough to put that book on my birthday wish list, so now I have to wait 2 weeks to see if I get it instead of just ordering it immediately...
    #21Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 08 Jun. 09, 11:21
    Hi Ey, We were told by a Professor at your local Uni that our plan to raise our children tri-lingual was perfectly ok, but we were to remain consequential to which languages are spoken and when, we should however pay particular attention to their development and if they start shows signs of having difficulties then switch to just two ! Apparently the brain isn’t developed enough until around 4 years old to automatically separate the languages and the answer can become a little mixed, I can’t confirm this theory as both of our children always answered back in the language the question was posed and as far as I can remember never mixed sentences. The only influence I noticed to their development was they both started walking relatively late compared with the other children born at the same time as them and raised with just German, but I didn’t consider that a reason to stop and they soon caught up!
    We only speak English at home (except with quests) which is obviously been a great help and can pick up English TV via satellite, what was also a god send was the invention of the non-PC internet radio ! We often drive long distances and I have collected a large collection of talking books (mostly Enid Blighten´s children stories) which helps pass the time and teaches them to boot, you will probably find your local library will have a selection of English talking books.
    Unfortunately English books are pretty expensive here in Germany, but as long as you don’t have a problem with used books I find Ebay is a good source for cheap English books.

    #22VerfasserVileness fats (241697) 08 Jun. 09, 11:53
    Thanks for the tips.

    (I like the image of "German quests": We only speak English at home (except with quests). It reminds me of how in my family we often ended a supper conversation with a trip to the bookshelf on a "quest.")

    BTW, have I revealed my location somewhere here? How do you know what my local uni is? There is an expert for bilingual child-rearing here, my man (uh...husband...not looking good for my kids not speaking denglisch) keeps saying he wants to go talk to her.
    #23Verfasser German Tarheel (EY) (147393) 08 Jun. 09, 12:11
    While it's a good idea to talk to experts, don't forget that there are many theories about bilingual childraising, and they can differ hugely. I have been variously warned by experts that:
    - my children will develop speech late (they were both early talkers)
    - they will be unable to separate the languages (they were both able to say whether a word was English or German from about age 2.5, and only mix, as far as I can tell, if they can't quite remember a word in the other language in that moment)
    - I should start teaching the "second language" (English, apparently) from age 4 only (I didn't)
    #24Verfasser CM2DD (236324) 08 Jun. 09, 12:28
    Sorry EY, Obviously I have no Idea where “Your” local uni is, I meant ours ! I was interrupted at least 5 times while writing my comment and did´t get a chance to read through it. Our quests usual are directed at the record collection to end musical disputes ;-)
    #25VerfasserVileness fats (241697) 08 Jun. 09, 12:44
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