30 January 2014

Language Boundaries

I have been amazed that my three youngest still speak German to each other. By this same age, my older children had switched to speaking English to each other (although they continued speaking German to us). But this younger batch speaks almost exclusively German. However, this year, with Jonathan in Kindergarten and the twins having more play-dates with their English speaking friends, they all want to know how to communicate better in English. They are aware that their English isn't up to par with their peers. I've even overheard them talking about how "schwer" (hard) it is to speak English.

It's interesting to see the language boundaries they've set for themselves. The other day, we were walking home from the bus stop with neighbors and I asked my 6 year old (in German) how his day had been. He quickly responded, "Nein, nicht Deutsch". (No, not German). Clearly, he had decided that one of his language boundaries was that among school friends, he would only speak English. Our home and family has always been regarded as a purely German speaking area for the younger children. But within this German-speaking boundary, they have established a few English areas. They have established imaginative play as a time when they often (not always) speak English at home. I don't interfere, because they need a time to practice English. And so far, the English is well contained within the boundary of the game.

The following video is an excellent example of how they "play" in English but "communicate" in German. They are all playing a Dr. Suess A,B,C game with my help. This game can't very well be played in German because the letters stand for different objects (F for fork), which don't work in German. So, they have dubbed it an Englishes Spiel and play it in English.

You can hear (at least I can hear) that they have more of a "foreign" accent in English than they do in German. They are playing the game in English, but discuss the rules and questions they have in German. Simon starts out by saying "Jetzt ist dein dran" using the English syntax "Now it's your turn" instead of "Jetzt bist du dran." Often they have to ask me what a word is in English. Jonathan asks me what the letter is in English. He also calls the ice cream cone Eis (which is the German word for icecream). Simon struggles with the word put, he keeps saying "Tut you foot in a elephant", instead of "Put your foot on the elephant". Of course, he's thinking about the German word tun.  I also think it's interesting that when Jonathan doesn't know the word for kite, he refers to it as dragon. The German word for kite is Drachen. The German word for dragon is Drache (which is very similar). It's interesting to see him make that connection.

Define Success

I think I have a unique bilingual parent perspective. Currently, I am poised between my two batches of children. The first batch (5 kids) have pretty much been raised. My oldest three have already left the house. If they are going to progress in German, it will be on their own...my job is done. Even the two teenagers that are still living at home are pretty much "done" when it comes to learning German. If they want to learn more German, they will take classes or go to Germany. They've learned what they can from me.

The second batch, however is still a work in progress. We're still deep in the bilingual trenches. The wonderful thing about raising a second batch of bilingual children is that, this time, I have no worries or doubts. I've done it all before and I know what worked and what didn't work so well. I also know where I need to improve. I'm not so worried about the younger children's English development, because we found that the first batch learned English just fine--in fact, some of them are quite gifted--so we are pretty sure that our younger batch of kids will be speaking English with native-like fluency before long. It's comforting to have been down this road before. I've defined our bilingual goals, I know what methods we are going to use and I feel confident that we're achieving our goals (more or less).

Now, let me just say that I never had a bilingual goal of raising children who speak perfect German. That would be quite unrealistic, since neither my husband nor I speak perfect children. The most we could could hope for would be children who could speak our own level of German. But, even that would be asking a lot, since I actually lived in Germany for some time and studied it in college...and they never have. So, what were/are our goals and did we meet them?

Our goals were to give them the German language and culture. Personally, I wanted my children to be able to identify with my idyllic childhood which I spent on a German Bauernhof in Bavaria. I wanted them to love the German Christmas traditions. I wanted them to grow up knowing that the world was bigger than their back yard and to understand that there are different ways of doing things, different ways of thinking and different ways of speaking and that they are all good. I knew that their German would be imperfect. I knew that they would make grammar mistakes (many of which they would learn from me), but I also knew that I'd rather give them my imperfect German and everything that goes with that, than not give them any German at all.

So, have we been successful? According to my own definition: YES. Our older children, who have already been raised can actually speak German. They can understand almost anything. They can express ideas and make themselves understood. They each have different levels of German. Some of them are naturally more gifted in language than others. Their pronunciation ranges from decent to quite good. Their German is far from perfect. They make grammatical mistakes all the time. If they were to take German in college, they would struggle with the grammar, but they would be able to out-speak and out-comprehend many of their classmates. And I feel certain, that they would be able to learn the grammar quickly, given the opportunity. They will probably have to "unlearn" some incorrect things that they learned in our home, but that's OK.

Now, having already done the "bilingual parenting thing" once, I actually have set my sites just slightly higher for this second batch of kids. I am hoping to help the younger children reach a higher level of German literacy than we reached with the older children. I would like to actually teach them formal grammar and help them learn how to read and write in German.

So, if success is defined by having perfectly bilingual children who speak both languages equally well and native-like, then, no, we haven't been successful. But if success is defined as setting and reaching goals and giving your children a wonderful gift of culture and language that will forever be a part of them, then, YES, we have been successful. In fact, the first time around was so amazing and successful, that we decided to do the whole thing again. And if that's not a sign of success, then I don't know what is.

22 January 2014

English Gibberish

Our youngest three children speak more (and more exclusively) German than the older ones did at similar ages. I think this is kind of interesting because they hear just as much (or even more) English in the home. My husband and I and all the teenagers speak primarily English to each other in front of the little ones. So they hear plenty of English. I think the key is that we hardly ever speak English to them. They are surrounded by English, yet they hardly ever have been expected to actually communicate in English. All of the "big people" in the family (parents and teenage siblings) only address the little ones in German. So, they always have responded to us in German. If fact, up until recently, if I spoke English to them when we're out in public, they would almost always ignore me until I repeated myself in German. They have always spoken exclusively German to each other. Up until the past year (when Jonathan entered Kindergarten), they really couldn't speak much English at all.

Code-switching is when a bilingual or multilingual person to switches between languages. In our case, a major code-switching trigger is imaginative play. I noticed early on that when the kids leave the real world behind and start make believing, they very often switch into English (this happened with my first batch of kids, too).

I love this video, because it shows the three little ones "pretending" to speak English. At the time, they could speak German quite fine (for their age), but really couldn't speak much English at all. Jonathan was 4 and the twins were 2 1/2. They had decided to do some English speeches up on the laundry basket. They are speaking mostly gibberish, but they are clearly trying to imitate English sounds. Some of the English words I can hear are: "amen, bye bye, no no, sit down" and some numbers. My favorite part is when my little warrior, Simon, gets up on the basket. The only thing he likes to talk about is shooting guns, at least that's what I assume he's talking about in his funny English gibberish.

21 January 2014

When did we start speaking the minority language (German) to our children?

We had decided that we would speak German to our first child before he was born. We came to that decision while I was still expecting. But when our little Benjamin was born, it wasn't so easy. Neither of us was in the habit of speaking German to babies. It was hard to make ourselves speak to our little baby in a foreign language. It didn't feel comfortable or natural. I didn't even really know how to speak 'to a baby' in German. I didn't know all the little baby words.

The first 4 months, we really struggled with speaking German to Ben. He didn't really respond much to our words, so we felt silly talking baby talk in German. But we still tried. It helped us to remember to speak German when we said his name with the German pronunciation. By 6 months, we mostly addressed him in German. At this point, I had no idea whether he would learn German or not. Karl and I spoke only English to each other. Would our little baby pick up the language he constantly heard in his environment (English) or would he actually speak in the language in which we spoke to him (German)? I really had no idea.

But early on, we noticed that he seemed to understand German better than English. It was fun to see that he actually responded to German. We were hopeful and continued to always talk to him in German. Karl's vocabulary really grew as he learned lots of new words. Karl was learning German right along with Benjamin, which was fun for all of us.

In this video (from our college days), you can see that we have already switched to speaking only German to Benjamin by the time he was 10 months. I think it was important that we were speaking the minority language to him well before he was able to produce words himself. You can also see that my German was not perfect.

Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes

When our first child, Benjamin, was born, I was really at a loss as to how to talk to or interact with a baby in German. I wanted to be able to sing German lullabies, but I didn't know any. I had grown up in an English speaking household and my mother had only sung English lullabies to me and my siblings. Even though it seemed strange to sing to my baby in a foreign language, I had decided that I was going to go ahead with our little "German experiment" no matter what, so I started looking for German lullabies to learn. This was before the internet, so I went to the library and checked out German song books. I took them home and, because we were poor college students and didn't own a piano, I played the melody of each lullaby on my recorder and worked on memorizing the words. I would sit in my recliner, as I nursed my little baby, holding the lullaby sheet music and sing my newly learned songs.

I had the same problem with nursery rhymes. As a mommy, I wanted to do little rhymes like: "This little piggy went to market", as I washed his little feet. So, once again, I hit the library and the college bookstore, looking for any material I could use. I collected all the little nursery rhymes and practiced them at home with my sweet little baby.

Looking back, I remember everything feeling so foreign and unnatural as I learned my new lullabies. I had never heard them sung and they didn't have that familiar feel. But, now over 20 years later, those very same lullabies are my children's most precious German memories. They love that they have their very own special lullabies. These lullabies and nursery rhymes are what set our family apart from the others. These are "our" songs and our rhymes and they are very special to us.

17 January 2014

Trying to maintain German (minority language) at home

When did our home language switch from the target (minority) language to the community (majority) language?

This is a good question with a long and somewhat complicated answer. Since we've raised our children in two batches, we have two entirely different scenarios. Currently, our second batch of kids (who at the time of this post are ages 6, 5, and 5) still speak almost exclusively in German to each other. But our older children had started switching from German to English (when speaking to each other) by the time they were the same age.  In this post, I'll address the first batch of kids.

Before my oldest son, Ben, entered Kindergarten, he and his twin sisters (2 years younger) mostly spoke German to each other. At that time, their German was much better than their English. They understood English and used it on occasion. However, they usually preferred to talk to each other in German. When they spoke English, it was with a German accent and they often used German syntax: as in "I vont zat not" (I don't want that). They almost always used German with us and we almost always spoke German to them. When we visited non-German speaking relatives, the kids had a hard time communicating with aunts and uncles in English. 

All that changed when Ben entered Kindergarten. When he came home from Kindergarten, he didn't have the German words to talk about his experiences, so he switched to English. I think he also thought it was a little more "cool" to speak English. Once Ben started speaking English to his siblings, they all started speaking English to each other. However, we still spoke plenty of German at home. Karl and I continued to speak only German to them and they usually answered in German. And I would often remind them to speak German to each other and usually, with a little reminder, they would try and switch. They actually never went through a time when they refused to speak German. If I reminded them to speak German, they were happy to switch until they ran across a topic, a word or a situation where English was easier, at which point they would slip back into English. 

In this video, the kids are playing in the garage (which was converted to a play room). Michaela (age 4) is playing with her German friend, Sonja. Ben (age 6) is playing in the background and wants to join in the game. Michaela is mostly conversing in German with Sonja. She has to ask me about a few words like "beach" (Strand). Ben keeps interrupting Michaela and Sonya in English, but switches to German when I remind him. He doesn't mind switching, and does it willingly, he just needs a lot of reminders. When he starts a sentence in English, I quickly interrupt and give him a few German words, and that is usually enough to help him continue in German. And sweet little Kiana (age 4) is just playing on her own in the background. At the end of the video, she rides her horse to go on a shopping trip, 'very far away', to buy honey and bread.

14 January 2014

Haferglocken, Apfel und Surinen

I love some of the German mispronunciations that our little ones have picked up. Sometimes, the words they make up are so cute that I don't even try to correct them. One of these words is "Haferglocken" instead of Haferflocken (oatmeal). I just think it's so cute, because it sounds like "oat bells". The other mispronunciation is "Surinen" instead of Rosinen (raisins). It's the same thing when English speaking kids say "Pasgetti" instead of spaghetti. Anyways, I just think these little mispronunciations are cute.

In this video, the babies (that's what we still call them) are putting on big shoes and pretending to be grownups. I'm sitting on the patio swing trying to get them to eat some oatmeal. Kiana (older sister) is taking the video and speaking German to her little siblings. The little twins are 3 and Jonathan just turned 5.

Say it in German, mommy!

This is a video of my oldest son, Ben. This is back in 1995 and Ben was only 2. Because he was our oldest, he really was the linguistic guinea pig. Ben spoke only German and we started to be a little concerned that maybe his English would suffer. We were living in Texas at the time and I started calling around to the 'experts'. I talked to one linguist, in particular, who told me that my children's English would suffer and that they would learn neither English nor German nataively. She made me nervous enough, that we tried speaking more English to Ben for a while.

Here in this video, you can see me narrating in English. When I ask Ben a question in English, he gets annoyed and says something like "nur deutsch sagen". ("say german"). He really preferred to speak in German and didn't like it when we switched to English. German was his language and he felt much more comfortable with it. We didn't keep up the English very long, as I realized that I shouldn't change our whole approach just because one "expert" had an opposing opinion.

13 January 2014

Early Expectations

When we decided to raise our children German-speaking, we really did not know what we were getting into. We didn't know anyone else who was doing or had done what we wanted to do. More than anything else, our bilingual adventure started out as a big experiment, in which we hoped that our children's language ability would not be permanently damaged (lol). We obviously would not have proceeded with the experiment, if our hopes and expectations didn't outweigh our doubts and worries.

So, what were our hopes and expectations? I had done enough research to understand the benefits of bilingualism. My first 3 children were born while I was a graduate student studying, of all things, language acquisition. I knew that children were born with the ability to acquire any language in the world. I also knew that by exposing a child to a certain language or languages, that the child would retain his ability to make and distinguish sounds in those particular languages while losing his ability to produce and distinguish sounds in the languages that he was never exposed to.

So, with this knowledge in mind, I thought that, at the very least, we could expose our child to German sounds so that learning German might be easier for him in the future. Of course, I also wanted him to learn to understand and speak German. With both of us being non-native German speakers, I wasn't sure what level of German to expect from our children. I assumed that their German would be imperfect, but I was ok with that. I figured that imperfect German was better than no German at all.

I also realized that at some point we would probably switch back to English simply because I knew that my German has its limits. I just cannot communicate as deeply or express myself as intimately in German as I can in English. I did not want the language ever become a barrier to deep, heartfelt and intimate communication with my children. But I didn't know if we would keep our household German and then only switch to English on occasion or whether we would drop German completely and speak only English at home.

Either way, I think we both agreed that we would push the German as far as we could and just see what happened. 

10 January 2014

Why we chose the ML@H method

After researching the different ways to raise bilingual children, we decided that both of us would speak the target (minority) language to the children, which in our case was German. This is also known as the ML@H (Minority Language at Home) method. It seemed like it would be the most effective method for our family. Now, we didn't come to this decision easily. Yes, I spoke German pretty well, but Karl didn't speak it quite as fluently. He had taken several college German classes, but had never been to Germany. He actually minored in French. He had spent 2 years in France (on an LDS mission) and spoke much better French than German. We played with the idea of having Karl speak French to the children, while I spoke German, but after giving it some thought, we decided that we might be more successful if we both spoke the same language.

Having us both speak the minority language at home made sense to me. I figured that neither of us should speak English, because the children would get enough English from living in an English-speaking community. I assumed that they would learn English just fine from their surroundings, just like I had learned German while living in Germany as a child. I wasn't 100% sure that my children would acquire English perfectly, but we decided to take the risk.

Another reason we felt like we should both speak German, was that with both of us speaking the minority language (German), we thought it would be easier for us to counteract the huge influence of the majority language (English). If English were spoken by one parent in the home (especially if it's both parents' native language and the community language), we felt that it would be very hard to keep it from becoming the main household language. I assumed that if one of us spoke English and the other German, that the children would feel like they had a choice of which language to speak and, given such a choice, I assumed that they would almost certainly choose English.

I knew that we had to push German 100% during the toddler and preschool years. I wasn't sure what would happen when we sent our children to school, but I knew that once they started school that they would be hearing more English than German and that English would start to become the dominant language. We decided to start speaking German right from the start and not to wait a few years until they learned English. Once again, its all about taking away the children's choices...lol. If you start them in the minority language and it's the only language they know, then they really don't have a choice as to what language they will speak. But given a choice, I knew from other families' experiences, that the children often chose to speak the dominant, or community language rather than the target, or minority, language..

Of course, these were all assumptions at the time. We didn't really know what would happen since we didn't know anyone else in our situation. We knew other bilingual families, but none where both parents were speaking a non-native language. In the end, we made our decisions based on a gut feeling that this whole bilingual experiment would be a good experience and that we wouldn't ruin or harm any of our children in the process. And now, 8 bilingual children and 20+ years later, I am happy to report that our assumptions and methods actually worked with hardly any children ruined in the process. We have thoroughly enjoyed our bilingual adventure and, given the choice, would do it all over again.

09 January 2014

Peetut Butter und Honig

Here are my baby twins (as opposed to my older twins) putting in their lunch orders--in German, of course. At the time of this recording they are about 4 and a half years old.

As you see, sometimes we don't use the German word for an item. Somehow, we always use "peanut butter" instead of "Erdnussbutter". I don't really know why. It's just one of those things. We have several words like that: peanut butter, bubbles, sandwich, stinker, etc. We just simply stick the English word into our German sentence: "Schau die vielen Bubbles an" (instead of Blasen). It's something we could (and probably should) correct, but we just don't worry about those few minor vocabulary exceptions. Sometimes, the one language just has a better word to describe what we're taking about. For example, if I say "Marmaladenbrot" I usually picture an open face sandwich. But if I use the word sandwich, then I know that I'm picturing a bread on top and on bottom with stuff in the middle. Plus, sometimes I just like the English word better. For example I like the word bubbles better than the word Blasen...maybe because Blasen makes me think of blisters and I don't like blisters.

08 January 2014

My German Language Background

My introduction to the German language came when I was six years old. We had been living in Stockton, California, when my dad accepted a job in southern Germany. We thought we would only be there for a few months, but we ended up staying 5 1/2 years. Instead of just renting a regular apartment or house, my mother, being a romantic Sound of Music fan, found us a vacation rental in a dairy farm in the foothills of the Alps. It is common for some of the farmers to make a little extra money by turning a part of their large farm houses into vacation apartments. We surprised the sweet German dairy farmers by showing up in the middle of winter in our Californian wardrobes looking to rent their apartment--which is usually only rented out in the summers. Needless to say, we loved it and the wonderful family so much, that we stayed in the apartment the whole time we lived in Germany.  (our farm is the one in the back ground, directly to the left of the church's roofline)

I had just turned 6 and did not speak a word of German. That didn't stop my parents from enrolling me in Kindergarten within a few weeks. I still remember sitting in the corner of the classroom not understanding anything that was going on. I even wet my pants, because I didn't know how to ask where the bathroom was. It was very scary at first. Most of the kids were from the local dairy farms and had never seen an American before. They thought I dressed funny and made fun of me. I don't really remember learning the language. But I do remember that with time, I became more and more aware of what was going on around me, which meant that I was indeed learning. By 2nd grade, I could understand most of what people were saying and I also started making friends.

Our home language was always English. My mother would give us English homework after school. We worked on spelling and writing. She wanted to make sure that we would be able to seamlessly enter back into our grade level upon returning to the States. There was a US Army base nearby, and so we also had access to some American culture. I even joined a Girl Scout troop on base. We met a few American families through our church. Our congregation was mostly German and church was held in German, but there were a few American army families who lived off base who attended our congregation.

In southern Germany, or Bavaria, where we lived, the locals speak a very thick accent. I prided myself in being able to speak Bairisch (Bavarian) almost as well as any of the Bavarian farm girls. By 5th grade, I was fully immersed in the rich Bavarian culture and loved it with all my heart and my German was quite good. I got good grades in school and was almost as comfortable with German as I was with English. Our little rural school was small, less than 25 children to a grade, and I was friends with everyone in my class as well as the classes above and below mine.

When it came time for my family to return to the States, I was heart broken. I was 11 years old and did not want to leave the farm, my friends or the beautiful countryside. I felt much more connected to Bavaria than I did to the U.S. It was a hard move.

Once we moved back to the states, my German quickly declined because we almost never used it. I could still understand everything, but my productive language really suffered. My grammar was terrible. I had never really learned any grammar and didn't understand it.

Fast forward to college: I decided to major in German teaching. I skipped all the lower level German classes and thought I could jump right into the advanced language and grammar class, which I failed and had to retake. But with time, and a more solid understanding of grammar, my German slowly began to improve again. After a few years in the German program, I got a job teaching the lower level college German classes. Teaching German helped my German to improve tremendously. Of course, my German is far from perfect. I often make grammatical mistakes and often don't know the correct phrase to use in a given situations, but I can usually work around those problems.

Today, my German is relatively good, but only because I use it on a daily basis with my children. Speaking German to them has made a huge difference in my ability to retain the language. I haven't improved a ton, because I don't spend a lot of time talking to native adults. I basically spend all my time practicing what I already know. But even merely maintaining my language ability, beats the alternative, which is to slowly lose it altogether. So, I have been very grateful for our decision to speak German to our children.

Why we decided to start a bilingual family

Back when I was in college and working towards my masters in Language Acquisition and expecting our first child, I came across a book by George Saunders (see reference below). I was intrigued by the fact that Mr. Saunders raised his children German-speaking even though he was a native English-speaking American. The more I read, the more excited I got. I had never really considered raising my children German-speaking. It was a novel idea! And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "I can do this." If George could pull it off as a dad who worked outside the home, then certainly I could do it as a stay-at-home mom. My German was far from perfect, but my pronunciation was pretty good. And speaking German to a baby wouldn't require super complex language structures. This was definitely something I could do.

The more I mulled the idea around in my head, the more obsessed I became with the whole idea. I started researching non-native bilingual parenting. It was 1990 and there just wasn't that much info available. Most of the research I came across discouraged what I was hoping to attempt. Most of the reasoning was that if you speak only your imperfect, non-native language to your child, that your child will not learn ANY language well. This was probably the biggest obstacle in my decision making process. I sure didn't want to harm my child's language ability and take away or hamper his future ability to express himself.

But the idea continued to grow despite the doubts. I did find some positive research that supported my intentions. I read about the many hearing parents raising children in (their non-native) ASL and vise versa: Deaf parents who "spoke" ASL to their hearing children. These children usually grew up to speak English just fine. My husband and I discussed my findings and decided that we would give it a try despite all the nay-sayers, mostly because of our gut feeling that we could pull this off.

Saunders, George. Bilingual Parenting: Guidance for the Family. Multilingual Matters, Ltd.: Clevedon, 1982.


So, once the decision had been made to raise our children bilingually, we had to decide exactly how we were going to do it. There are two basic theories or methods when it comes to raising bilingual children.

In a bi-cultural family, where each parent speaks a different native language, the OPOL or One Person, One Language is, by far, the most popular choice, because each parent just speaks his/her own native language to the child and the child is exposed to both languages. In our minds, the ML@H, or Minority Language at Home seemed to make more sense. I'll discuss the reasons why we chose ML@H in later post, but in the meantime, here is a good description of both methods from Omniglot.com.
  1. One Person, One Language (OPOL) is the most common family language system in use. For instance, Kees speaks his native Dutch, while his wife speaks English. Each parent or caregiver consistently speaks only one language to the child. Sometimes OPOL requires extra "language supplements," such as playgroups, visits from family, a trip to the country, or a native speaking nanny or au-pair. It helps tremendously for your child to hear that his parent isn't the only one who speaks this language. Kids are savvy little creatures who are quite capable of reasoning that they don't really need to know a language if it is only spoken by one other person.
  2. A second option, slightly less common but tremendously successful is Minority Language at Home (ML@H). It simply means that everyone speaks the minority language at home, even if this language is not the native language of both parents. It is probably the most reliable method for raising truly native speaking children since it ensures consistent interaction from birth until the child leaves home. However, the ML@H parent has to be able to quell doubts and stay the course unwaveringly. When your child isn't speaking the community language on the same level as his or her monolingual peers (generally the ML@H child doesn't reach parity with them until around 5 years of age), it's difficult not to worry. The McColloughs in Germany remember "We were watching other children jabbering away in complete German sentences, while Patrick seemed incapable of getting out two or three connected words." Within months after starting preschool, however, he had transformed completely. "Now he can't stop talking in either language." Even when you know that your child is going to catch up, it can be daunting to watch him struggle. Some parents fear that he will never learn the primary language, even though this really only occurs when children are isolated from the primary language within a minority speaking community.
Ager, Simon: Citing Sources: [http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/bilingualkids4.htm]: para. 3-4: [Jan10, 2014]

There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding on which method to implement in your family. One of these factors is whether or not both parents can speak the target language and another is the family's country of residence. Rather than explore all the factors, I will try to explain the reasons why we felt that the ML@H method would be better choice for us. (stay tuned for the next post)

07 January 2014

20+ Years and Counting

It's time! I've been wanting to start this blog (or something like it) for over 20 years now. Actually, the initial  idea was to write a book. I started the book several times over the years, but each time it would get pushed aside as I worked on much more important things: like being an active mom and running a household.  I've dabbled in websites and actually authored a quite a popular website for a number of years. In fact, at the time (mid 1990's), if you searched for non-native bilingual parenting, my page was the first one to show up. It had over 130,000 hits---which was a lot back in the 90's.

I collected tons of data from other parents who spoke a non-native language to their children, hoping to someday use it as research in a book. But sadly, that research sits in a file on my computer. I just did not have the know-how nor the time to properly maintain a website.

So, here I am, finally starting my non-native bilingual parenting blog--20+ years later. Why a blog? Well, because I hope I can be some help to anyone else starting on this adventure. I have seen the results of our bilingual child-rearing methods. I have college kids, teenagers, elementary aged kids, and preschoolers. Each of my kids has his or her own bilingual journey (each of which I would like to cover in this blog). I've seen what works and what doesn't work. And besides just wanting to share my ideas with others, I simply would like to have a record of our bilingual adventure for myself.  So a blog seems like the logical choice. Happy reading!!
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Bilingual Baby Dream Team

Going on 20+ years of raising our bilingual babies...
I'm so grateful for a sweet husband who was willing to give this whole experiment a try and and that he was willing to speak German to our kids, even though his German exposure had been limited to a few semesters of college German. It's been one of the most fun and rewarding things we've done. The fact that our family speaks German has given us our own identity and helps the kids feel like they are a part of something special. And anything that helps your family feel special and connected is a good thing.