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About This Blog

This blog is for anyone interested in raising their children in a foreign language--meaning a language which neither of the parents speak natively.
We have used the approach where both parents speak the target foreign language (in our case, German) to the children. Neither of us is a native German speaker, yet we have spoken German in our home for the past 20 years and have 8 German speaking children. In this blog, we hope to share our successes, our lessons learned and a few of the insights that we've gained along the way.

It's not about perfection! Bilingual Parenting Goals for the New Year!

I try to have an honest blog. Raising kids is not easy. And raising kids in a language which you do not speak natively can be downright hard at times. But I know it can be done. I'm not the perfect example of non-native bilingual parenting. I know there are plenty of families who do a much better job than we have done. But neither we, nor any other family, is going to do it perfectly. Each family has their own struggles, their own unique personalities, their own histories, and their own situations. No one is going to have a perfect family and no one is going to do a perfect job of raising bilingual kids. It's just not possible.
But, we can all do our best--whatever that is. It's January...a time to evaluate and set goals. I have plenty of goals swimming around in my head. Many of these goals relate to our non-native bilingual parenting attempt. January is a good time to think about how far we've come and where we want to go. I'm grateful that we have made the German language a part of our family identity. I'm often amazed that I have 8 kids who all understand and speak German (even if they don't do so perfectly). This week, I've been thinking about my goals in all areas of my life. There's a lot I would like to accomplish this year. Many of these goals are much more important than my children's foreign language development (for example, my family's spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being). But our bilingualism IS still very important to me me. If it weren't, we wouldn't have 8 bilingual kids. And it's important to have goals. Without some sort of goal, we don't have any direction. So that said, here are some of my non-native bilingual parenting goals this year:
  1. Continue to talk German to my kids, even when they speak English to me.
  2. Continue to do our German school once a week (where we learn to read and write in German)
  3. Continue to read German chapter books to the kids every night.
  4. Have the kids read from German books every day.
  5. Continue to expose them to French (have a French lesson at least each week)
In addition, I want to make sure that the kids have fun and continue to value their ability to speak two languages. Rather than force the kids to learn against their will, I want to take each of their unique personalities and characteristics and find a way to help each of them reach their own potential. 

Speaking of funny personalities, here's a cute video of my attempt to take a picture of my three youngest in their Christmas jammies. You can probably guess which one requires extra patience and a more active approach to learning....love these kiddos!

Good luck to all of you and your non-native bilingual parenting goals in 2017!!!

As you can see, we're still speaking mostly German to the kids.
Video translation: Just me and my husband encouraging the kids to stand still for 1 second so we can take a single picture :).

Reading with Kitty

It's fun to see the kids reading in both English and German. We had a litter of kittens this winter. The kids love playing with all the kittens. She is excited to read her German cat book to her kitten. Even though the kids are speaking more English lately, they still speak a lot of German, too. We're trying to encourage them to read more German books so that they continue to learn new vocabulary. Here's a short cute video of Clarissa reading to her kitty in German.


Working on Grammar! Still Loving our Part-time German Home School Experiment

We have an AMAZING local elementary school. We are so blessed that the principal and teachers have been so understanding and cooperative and willing to work with us as we try to raise biliterate kids.
The kids are now in in 3rd and 2nd grades. Ever since they started school, I have been "part-time" home schooling them, meaning that I pull them out of school at least once a week so that we can have German school at home. It has been such a perfect arrangement. Without our day at home, we would never find the time to really work on our German schoolwork.
In addition to our German schoolwork, we also do a lot of reading, both in German and English, The rest of our day at home is taken up with French lessons, practicing violin, chores and playtime. I ordered our German curriculum from Germany. I love that the kids are now a little more advanced and are working on grammar...which is something they really need.

In the video below, the kids are supposed to read a paragraph, find the verbs and then conjugate the verbs. It's fun to see them thinking about language, grammar and its usage. I'm hoping that as we continue to do German schoolwork, that the kids' language won't plateau. I realize that as they start communicating more in English with each other, that some plateauing is inevitable. However, as we read more and more advanced texts and are exposed to more unfamiliar words, hopefully, they will continue to improve their German.


Disneyland Surprise!

I just watched this video from earlier this year. We had just arrived at a vacation condo in Anaheim, California and the three little kids still didn't know where we were or why we were there. They had no idea that they would get to go to Disneyland the next morning. We had kept the whole trip a complete surprise for them, only telling them that they might get to see their grandparents. The beginning of the video shows us telling them that we have a surprise and asking them if they can guess what it is.

It's an interesting video because it shows that we really do sometimes just mix up our languages quite blatantly. In the video you can see that even though we know the German word for surprise, we just simply use the English word. Not sure why, we just did. I've talked a lot about language boundaries in the blog. We still do mostly stay within our boundaries. Inserting English words in into our German conversation still counts as German for us (as long as we're using German sentence structure and syntax). Sometimes, it's just necessary to insert an English word here and there: See Post on Mixing Languages.  Most of the video is in German, but we do switch to English. At the end of this video, I'm speaking mostly English because I planned on sharing this video with family members who don't speak German. I usually wouldn't use that much English with the kids.

I also think it's cute to hear the older kids interacting with their younger siblings in German. This is just how our family rolls.


And, by the way, Disneyland was SUPER fun and magical!!


What a magical time for our whole family.
(We brought along a cutout of our son who is on a mission in Brazil
so that he could be a part of the fun.)