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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.

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.

video

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