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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.

About Us

I am a mother of 8 bilingual children and we live in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I met in the German program at college (BYU). He spoke English and French (having served an LDS mission in France). I spoke English and German (having lived in Germany for 5 1/2 years during my childhood). We are both native English speakers from the United States. I studied German Teaching and Language Acquisition. I was working on my masters in Language Acquisition when our first child was born. I was fascinated by the idea of raising a bilingual child. So, as soon as he was born, we both started speaking German to him. My husband's German was limited, since he had only studied about 5 semesters of German and had never been in Germany...but we persevered. He worked on his German. I memorized German lullabies and broke into our meager savings to invest in a few German children's books. Well, a little to our surprise, it worked! Our baby's first words were in German. We both continued to speak only German to him. Two years later, twin girls joined our family. Two years after that, another boy and then two years after that another girl. Our home was completely German speaking, except that my husband and I spoke English to each other. But we only spoke German to the kids and they only spoke German to each other and to us. As they entered elementary school, they started speaking more English at home, but we kept up many of our German routines. Nine (yes, nine) years later...we find out that we are once again expecting. We held a family meeting and all the teenagers decided that this next member of our family should also speak German...since that's what our family does: We speak German. A year later (so that our little caboose wouldn't be all by himself), we decided to have one more child. And, lo and behold, we were blessed with twins again. So, just in case you haven't been counting, that makes 8. With the arrival of our second batch of children, the German in our home has increased substantially. All the 5 older kids decided that they would all only speak German to the 3 little ones. It's been fun to observe all the bilingual language acquisition happening in our home over the past 20 years. 

I always wanted to write about my experiences while raising our first batch of children, but life was just too hectic. It's so exciting that I actually get to raise another set of children and that I get to do it in German again. We are just tickled to be able to travel this same fun bilingual parenting road a second time and I'm excited to share it with anyone who is interested.

First Batch of Kids

Second Batch of Kids

All Kids Together


Sarah @ Baby Bilingual said...

So nice to "meet" you, a fellow non-native speaking parent! I will look forward to following your blog and learning from your expertise. What a success story!

Nina Shurts said...

Sarah, thanks for "stopping by". I really enjoyed reading your blog,as well. I'm amazed at how big the non-native bilingual parenting community has become. It is very encouraging to read about all the success stories.

Bonne Maman said...

Hi there...I just wanted to say thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your details. I'm really happy to meet you and hear your story...So great to meet someone else on the same path... I find this whole adventure far easier when i surround myself with like minded people... i have been off the blogging trail for a while but am determined to get back on the blogging horse... and yes, of course, i am super happy to add your link to my page :-)

Audrey Kratovil said...

Hi! Hola! Guten tag! My name is Audrey and I'm raising my daughter in my non-native language of Spanish (my husband is from Spain). I just recently started a blog (www.espanolitablog.com) and I'm excited to have found yours!

Diana y su nena speaking English said...

Hi, this is Diana, a Spanish mum who is raising her 5 year old girl in English ( both her dad and I are Spanish native speakers) So we are doing the same thing as you guys but with a different target language I have been writing about this a lot, I used to have a blog, but not anymore. I have just discovered this blog. congratulations. Eight kids and in different languages, that's amazing! If you want to send me an email, please feel free! dss79@hotmail.com Hasta luego! Auf wiedersehen

Anke said...

Hi Nina, thank you for sharing your experiences. I am a German mum with a 5 year old boy who we raise in non-native English. It's interesting to read about a family doing it "the other way around". I love your blog and am truly thankful for all the information given. Keep going!

Nina Shurts said...

Diana and Anke, Hello!!! Thanks for commenting. I love "meeting" other parents who are raising their kids in their non-native language. It's an amazing experience. If you haven't already done so, please fill out the survey (tab at top of page). I'm collecting information about families like (y)ours. I may have questions for you in the future and would love to be able to contact you. Thank you!

annie said...

My husband and I are raising our sons (ages 2 and 6 mo) bilingually in German, but are both native English speakers. Luckily, right now we live in Germany so I have ample opportunity to learn and practice, but it's great to see this working for someone else. Also, your daughter is currently serving in our ward! We love Sister Shurts!

Nina Shurts said...

Annie! So awesome to hear from you! Give Sister Shurts a hug for us!! We can't wait to see her in 2 weeks!! Oh, and I'm anxious to hear more about your bilingual adventure. Do you plan on moving back to the US soon?

annie said...

We know this move isn't permanent but we plan to be here another 3-4 years - soon...ish? Our bilingual road has been a bit wind-ey, but our 2-yr-old speaks and understands German with my husband and English with me, so it seems to be working so far! I didn't fill out your survey because my husband did and I didn't want to skew your data, but you're welcome to contact me via email: anniegedicks(at)gmail(dot)com

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