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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.

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. 

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