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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.

Learning Their "Native" Language. My American Kids in ESL.

I've been interested in finding out just how our "German experiment" has effected my children's English language abilities. Since both my husband and I are native English speakers, I still think it's quite interesting that our children are enrolled in the ESL class at school. I am intrigued by the fact that English is their second language. It's not like they haven't been exposed to English. They have been exposed to English since birth. We live in the United States. Everywhere we go, outside the home, everyone is speaking English. All of the adults and teenagers in our home speak exclusively English to each other. So, needless to say, there is LOTS of English spoken around our three youngest children. It's spoken around the dinner table, as we do our chores, as we sit around and talk. But, like I've mentioned before, we (all the adults and teens) speak only German to our 3 little ones. And they speak only German to us and to each other. You would think that with all that English exposure, that they would have a complete grasp of the English language. But interestingly enough, they don't. In fact, up until they started socializing outside the home (age 5), their English was extremely limited. When I spoke to them in English, I often got blank stares. But once they reached the age and maturity where social interactions with friends became important enough, they were finally motivated to actually start learning English. Up until that point, they had no need for English and, thus, they mostly tuned it out. However, now that they see the need for English, they are picking it up very quickly. In school, all three of them are enrolled in ESL class and they are making steady progress.
In the video below, I'm working with Simon on some homework that he brought home from school. I like that some of these exercises actually allow me to gauge the kids' English ability. Sometimes, I start assuming that they know way more than they actually comprehend. It's not until I ask them specific questions, like "What does 'crowded' mean?", that I realize that their English still needs work. I'm glad that they are enrolled in ESL at school. I'm glad that we have them attending public school. And I'm glad that we are now reading way more English books at home. It's all making a difference. But mostly, I'm glad that we have maintained our language boundaries and that German continues to be our home language, I'm thrilled that they are continuing to improve in German.

video

So, rather than being overly concerned about their lagging English ability, I'm confident that they will pick it up very quickly. They are very motivated to learn and there is no stopping motivated kids!! They can learn anything (and any language) they set their minds to.  


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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!


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