23 March 2015

Letters from Big Sister in Germany in German!!

Just received letters from Michaela! Jonathan is sporting his
"Thing One" hair because it's Dr. Suess Day at school...which
is fitting, because Michaela is our "Thing-One", being the
first twin.
The other day, the 3 little kids were absolutely thrilled to find three letters in the mail. The letters were from their big sister, Michaela, who is serving a mission for our church in Germany. Michaela has been in Germany for over 6 months and still has a year left on her mission. (Michaela's Blog) Her little siblings miss her terribly and are always excited to hear from her---so an individual letter addressed especially to each one of them was just so exciting! They had checked the mail when they got off the bus and came running towards home to show me their treasures. Inside each envelope was a personal letter, some momentos (used train tickets and such---which the kids LOVED), a dollar, and a little Pixi Buch (a tiny little children's book).

Simon opens his letter.
We sat down on the sofa and I read each of them their letter. As I read to each one of them, they cuddled up next to me and hung on to every word.  Each of them was so excited to hear from their sweet big sister. I was feeling so happy that Michaela was able to share her German mission experience with her little siblings IN GERMAN!! This situation didn't just happen. I'm not German. My husband isn't German. My kids aren't German. And we don't live in Germany. But, somehow, we have this amazing situation where all the kids can speak and understand German. Who would have guessed, when we started this bilingual experiment 22 years ago, that we'd have our children writing German letters to each other.

The following video was recorded by the kids, so it's not perfect. We only got some shots of Jonathan and Clarissa's letters. Simon got a letter, too, but we didn't record it.
I'm also so impressed with Michaela's ability to write in German. We did a little bit of German homework when she was little...but not much. She has taken one half-year of German where she pretty much received her first and only exposure to German grammar. Her letter is not perfect, but its pretty darn good.
I just love that our decision to raise our kids in our non-native German has continued to bless our home. I keep seeing so many big and little ways that it has effected and enriched our family. I know that at times I've had second thoughts about speaking German to the kids, but, in the end, it has been one of the most rewarding decisions we've ever made.

Here is a related post: A Day Like This Makes it All Worth It.

06 March 2015

Playing Headbandz--German is still going strong!

It has been so much fun watching my little ones as they progress in German. I am still amazed that they continue to speak German with each other at home. In fact, as I'm writing this entry, I can hear the twins sitting at the kitchen table having an argument in German about what kind of picture to draw next. The fact that these little kids speak German to each other didn't "just happen." This is the result of lots of time, effort and many lessons learned throughout the last 20+ years. My older children started speaking mostly English to each other by the time they started grade school. So, I'm thrilled that this younger batch of kids have "stuck it out" with German.

Their German is not perfect, but it's good enough. As you can see in the video, they often substitute English words into their conversations and I'm completely fine with that. Sometimes, I'll correct them, just to make sure they know the correct German word. Sometimes, I'm too lazy and just let them continue to use the English word. In the video, Simon uses the English word for 'airplane' and 'corn'. But he defends his choice by telling me that it's an English game--which I think is so cute.

If you are raising your children in your non-native foreign language, PLEASE take the survey. Click on the top right tab. Thank you!!

Bilingual Baby Dream Team

Going on 20+ years of raising our bilingual babies...
I'm so grateful for a sweet husband who was willing to give this whole experiment a try and and that he was willing to speak German to our kids, even though his German exposure had been limited to a few semesters of college German. It's been one of the most fun and rewarding things we've done. The fact that our family speaks German has given us our own identity and helps the kids feel like they are a part of something special. And anything that helps your family feel special and connected is a good thing.