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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.

Still Speaking German after a week of English Immersion!


So, what effect did our "English Immersion" week with our English-speaking cousins have on our German household??? English All Week

Well, I'm pleased to announce that we literally bounced right back. It was actually quite interesting. My brother and his sweet wife got home after the kids were all in bed. In the morning, as the cousins came storming down the stairs to greet their parents, I realized that there was a noticeable shift in dynamics. Now that my brother and wife were here, their children were no longer under my charge. They now belonged to their own (English speaking) family again. That meant that our family went back to being a German speaking family. In fact, as we were eating breakfast, I noticed Simon and Jonathan having a squabble on the floor (that's nothing new), but the interesting part was that it was in German. They hadn't spoken German to each other all week. Even they felt the change. They understood that our "family" was back to it's normal size and that things were getting closer to normal.

I whipped out my phone and recorded the boys arguing in German while the rest of us were all visiting in English and eating breakfast. I guess, it surprised me to suddenly hear German again. They hadn't spoken German all week. But now that the dynamics had shifted, they immediately reverted back to "normal."

video


While we visited with my brother's family, we went back to our regular "guest" language routine, where we speak English to our guests and often speak German to each other. After we said our goodbyes and my brother left, little Simon came running up the stairs and exclaimed: "Jetzt koennen wir nur Deutsch sprechen!" (Now we can speak only German!) And with that, we all naturally switched back to German. It was as simple as that.

The reason that we're able to continue to keep our German so strong is that we are following our unwritten language rules and boundaries. The kids understand that their choice of language is governed by these rules. They speak English under certain circumstances and within certain boundaries, but all other times, we revert to German. Boundaries are what make it all work!!!

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