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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.

German Homework with the First Batch

When my oldest was about 5, I started looking into trying to find some German school work. I wanted the kids to learn how to read and write. It wasn't easy to find materials. In Germany, homeschooling is illegal, so you have to get a hold of the actual school books that are used in the schools. Well, after lots of research, I ordered my German "primer" or Fibel. It came with a teacher's guide and a workbook. I made each of the kids a binder and made copies of the workbook for the three oldest. We tried pretty hard to do our German homework regularly. But I found that once they started school that we had a hard time getting around to it because they had their regular school homework to do. Once the kids were in school, I had them work on their German homework during the summers. We didn't get to it as often as I would have liked. They learned how to read in German. We basically got through the first grade book. I started the second grade book, but we didn't get very far into it. It was just too hard to find the time to really focus on German schooling with all the other activities that were going on.

I had much more time with my preschoolers, since they were at home with me while the older ones were in school. I tried to work with them as much as possible. But my school books were first grade level and my preschoolers were still preschoolers, so the material was a little difficult for them. We did what we could.

Now, I was often asked if teaching the kids to read in German before they started school would affect their ability to learn to read in English. I didn't really do any research on this. My gut instinct told me that reading skills are very similar in any language. I figured that learning to read in German would only help their reading in English. I assumed they might have a few spelling issues, just like I had when I moved back to the States from Germany, but I figured that they could overcome those issues. It took me a few years to spell music with a c instead of a k. But eventually, I caught on and it wasn't an issue. I assumed it would be the same with my children...and it was. They had a few German/English spelling mix-ups, but other than that, they learned to read and write in English just fine. In fact, I believe their German helped them to grasp the English language better. So, in the end, their German "schooling" ended up helping them way more than it hurt them.

My only regret with our German "schooling", was that we didn't keep it up. There was so much more I wish I had been able to teach them. I wanted them to be able to write letters in German. I wanted them to understand German grammar. I wanted them to feel as comfortable reading German books as English books. Having a secondary German teaching degree, I was sort of hoping to "give" them everything they would/could have learned in a high school German class, so that they could test out of high school German. But we never got to that point. Like I've said before, they can probably out-speak and out-comprehend most high school German students. I guess, if any of them really want to pursue German, they can always take it in college or move to Germany!

video

So, at first I wasn't going to include this video because it's so dated. But it does show what German-homework-time was like for us back in the 90's (along with my awesome 90's hair, clothes and house). This video is actually a family favorite. We watch it over and over and laugh so hard when Michaela comes zooming around the corner and hits the ground. The kids think it's hilarious that I don't even blink an eye--you can tell I'm a tired mom that day. Then Michaela sits back down, mumbling "Aua" (ouch) and shows me the "Lineal" (ruler) that she just got and I don't even acknowledge all the effort she just went to in order to bring me the ruler. (The kids think that's funny, too.) Anyways, despite all that, this video shows that we did indeed work on German homework. At the time of this video, the twins are almost 5 and still at home with me. Ben is at school. I often did "Hausaufgaben" (homework) with the girls during the day. We worked on German worksheets and learned to identify sounds and letters. You can also hear little Dallin (almost 3 yrs old) in the background, addressing me in German.  And you can hear 6 month old Kandra crying (in German, I'm sure). Anyways, with five kids 6 and under, life was hectic, looking back, I'm amazed we even worked on our German homework at all.









2 comments:

Unknown said...

Hi! I'm so glad I found this site. I am planning on homeschooling our children. I am from Germany and my husband is American. I have been looking to find a pre school curriculum that is bilingual ( German and English). I have not found one. Do you have any ideas on how to do both together? Do you use an English pre school program at all? I am trying to see which one would be best for the little ones that incorporate the bible as well. Any ideas, recommendations, or advice would be appreciated!

Danke schön!

Isabell

Nina Shurts said...

Isabell, I've mostly been homeschooling in German. However, we do some in English, too. I may or may not pull the kids out of school in a year or two and try homeschooling in both languages. We'll see. There are so many amazing homeschool programs in English (and many of those are based on the bible). There are none (that I could find) in German. This is why I have purchased a regular classroom curriculum for my kids. Good luck with your homeschool endeavors!
Nina

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