- My husband and I started speaking German to our children from birth.
- We always addressed our children in German, yet my husband and I have always only spoken English to each other.
- We made the home/family our German speaking boundary.
- We tried to always speak and use only German at home
- Most of our childrens' books and movies were in German
- We tried to address the children in the community language (English) when we were in public.
- Although, we usually used German in public for disciplining or mentoring (reminding the children to say thank you, or reminding them to include a child that looked left-out)
- We switched to English when the children were older because we could not communicate as deeply or intimately in a foreign language (German). The ability to communicate effectively was more important than pushing the German.
- By the time the children were teenagers, our home communication language had mostly become English, except for some entrenched German traditions.
- All prayers continued to be said in German (morning, evening and before every meal)
- We read scriptures as a family in German (daily).
- We started most family meals in German (although we often ended them in English)
- I continued to read German stories to the children at night well into their teen years.
- All private communication (in public settings) was usually in German.
- We had several favorite German movies that we enjoyed watching together.
- When our younger 3 children were born (we have 9 year gap between the two groups of kids), the German in our home increased substantially, because the older children had decided that they would only speak German to the younger ones.
- The older children, my husband, and I continue to speak English to each other but we all speak only German to the younger children
- Our home language became a mixture of German (to the little ones) and English (to each other).
- We continue to read German books, watch mostly German TV shows, listen to German children's music and play German educational computer games during the day.
There are many different methods to bilingual parenting in a non-native language. My husband and I are both native English speakers who reside in the United States. We are raising our children German speaking. We use the ML@H (Minority Language at Home) method. Here is our method in a nutshell:
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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.