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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.

Cousins and Firemen

I took this little video last summer while we were visiting extended family. I had been resting on the sofa while the kids were playing with their cousins. It was fun to listen to them picking up on English phrases and slang while they played. At the beginning of the video, Simon approaches me and wants to know the English word for fireman. After I give it to him, he and his cousin start playing that they are firemen and that they have a fire to put out down in the stairwell. Simon asks his cousin where the fire is. He struggles a little bit with English prepositions: "Is the fire with your house?" He then corrects himself to "in" the house. Then Jonathan joins the game. Simon and Jonathan are speaking English as they talk about the fire that they need to put out. Jonathan then makes believe that he has a button that automatically sprays water on the imaginary fire. He uses German syntax in English to explain his make-believe button: "Water is coming alone out." This makes Simon mad. He doesn't like the imaginary button. As soon as Simon gets mad, he switches to German. I'm always fascinated when I observe the kids switching between languages. They have always been able to play in English, but they almost always use German to deal with relationship issues. When they are angry, they switch to German. However, at the very end, Simon yells at Jonathan using Jonathan's English name "Jonathan" (rather than the German pronuciation Yonahtahn). It was probably his way of letting his cousin know that he was frustrated with his brother. The language boundaries are sometimes not as clear. The kids were fighting in German in my presence and in the presence of their English speaking cousin, so it was not completely apparent which language to use.


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