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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.

A Day Like This Makes it All Worth It!!

As I look back on all the years and all the effort we put into raising our children bilingually, there are quite a few instances when I've been especially grateful for our decision to speak German to our kids. One of those special times was when we traveled to Europe. I loved seeing my children play and interact with my German friends' children. I had even arranged for my children to spend a few days at the German school that I attended as a child. I remember feeling so incredibly grateful that my kids were able to have that experience. It was an experience that they never would have had, if we hadn't taught them German. Well, we recently had another wonderful experience which tops them all.
In order to understand the significance of this experience, you have to understand a little about our religious culture. We are LDS (Latter Day Saints or "Mormons"). Ever since our children were very young, we have talked to them about serving missions. Many of the youth in our church, start saving their money early so that they can someday serve a mission. Young men are able to serve once they're 18 years old and serve for 2 years. Young women can serve once they're 19 years old and serve for 18 months. (About Mormon Missionaries) In order to serve a mission, the young people need to be living up to certain moral standards and they need to have a strong desire to serve others. They also are willing to serve where ever they are sent, meaning that the mission applicants don't get to choose where they will be serving. They are assigned to a certain mission. It could be anywhere in the whole world. There is a section in the application which asks about which languages are spoken by the applicant. However, just because an applicant speaks a given language does not at all guarantee that he or she will be called to a country where that language is spoken. Case in point: my son, who speaks German, is currently serving his mission in the state of Wisconsin (English speaking). (Ben's Mission Blog) We are thrilled for him and he is having amazing and wonderful experiences. He loves Wisconsin and he loves the people of Wisconsin. So, how does his bilingualism help  him now? Well, one of the most wonderful benefits of bilingualism is the "biculturalism" that usually goes hand in hand with learning another language. This means that Ben grew up learning about different cultures and different ways of thinking about things. This ability to be open-minded has helped him to connect with people who are very different from himself. So, he may not be using his German language on his mission so much, but his exposure to a foreign culture has still helped him to be a better and more effective missionary.
So, recently, our daughter, Michaela, submitted her mission application. She, of course, was also willing to serve anywhere in the world that she might be sent. There is always a lot of anticipation preceding a mission call. We gathered friends and family (many through video conferencing) to witness the opening of the mission call letter. When she finally opened it and read that she would be serving in the Germany Frankfurt Mission, we were all so thrilled. Of course, we'd be thrilled no matter where she ended up serving, but the fact that we've been speaking German to her since she was born, made it one of those very special "bilingual parenting moments". I thought back on all the German lullabies I memorized and sang to her when she was little, the German stories I read her, the German traditions we incorporated, and the love that she has developed over the years for all things German. And, now, she gets to take all that knowledge and all that love and will have the opportunity to serve the people in Germany for a year and a half. Yes, at times like this, I am so, so grateful that we took the bilingual plunge and that we stuck with it as best we could.  Indeed, a day like this makes it all worth it!


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I'd love to hear from you! Do you speak a foreign language? Do you have questions or comments? I'd love to hear them. Thanks!