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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 Preschool or Spielgruppe

Let's face it, it is just plain hard to maintain a minority language when you're trying to raise bilingual kids. Even before my oldest child started school, I noticed that the kids were speaking more and more English (majority language). As I was trying to figure out more ways to encourage the kids' German, I realized that my kids had never spoken German to other children. The only people who had ever spoken German to them were their parents and a handful of other adults. I was pretty sure that if they heard other children speaking German, that they would be motivated to speak more German themselves. I needed to find other German-speaking children for them to interact with. I looked into our local German American School, but it was a private school and was financially out of our reach. Much to my surprise, I found a German preschool run by a local community center. It was a 30 minute drive for me, but I signed up my oldest for the preschool. Twice a week, we drove to the preschool. It was a wonderful opportunity for my son to hear German spoken by people other than his parents. However, I noticed that most of the kids in the preschool didn't actually communicate in German. In most cases, they had at least one German parent and many of them could understand German, but very few of them really spoke German. When I observed them on the playground, they were almost always speaking English to each other. Still, it was a great program and my son really enjoyed the experience. The teacher was amazing. I volunteered to help and so was able to have my younger children in the class with me. It helped my children to see that German was spoken by more people than just mom and dad. We also enjoyed celebrating some of the traditional German holidays, like Faschings (see photo). We participated with the preschool for a year and it definitely had a positive influence on the kids' German.


Santiago E. Hernandez said...

Hello. Great blog! I'm really glad I found it. I also completed a master's degree in Applied Linguistics, specializing in Language Teaching, but I also studied a lot on fisrt and second Language Acquisition. Right now, my wife is pregnant and I'm planning to talk to my child in English, probably choosing OPOL, but have not decided yet. My wife is also proficient in English, but she told me she would not feel comfortable talking only in English. Let's see what we decide as the baby is born as it is now too soon. Ich kann auch Deutsch, aber ich glaube, dass es mit Englisch genugend ist. I'm really looking forward to reading more posts. I have already read them all. Also, I hope I can get your advice once the baby is born and I get into alll the bilingual experience. By the way, my native language is Spanish, but I was exposed to English from an early age and use it at work every day. Hope I can learn and get used to baby language.



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