Bilingual Families

As you may know, I am “new” on the Bilingual circuit. Here are some previous posts on the our bilingual family - not many, but a start. To summarise about “us” and “me”:

About our bilingual Family: I am a third culture Austrian (Austrian by nationality, but grew up in the UK going to a German School), married to a Brit (who only speaks English, but is trying to learn German). We have two children – a boy aged 4 and a girl aged 2. Though German is my mother tongue, English dominated for a long time (since leaving school). So I have had to get “back into” German when the children were born. I was lucky to find some German friends in my local area and we meet regularly. I tend to speak German to the children when we are alone or with German speakers, but use English the rest of the time.The children currently understand German but speak English. (PS I will replace that photo with a family photograph… tsk tsk).

Schools

Last time, I mused about what to do regarding our “local” German School vs the local English State school – for my 4yrs old son who is just about to start going to School this Sept. Increasingly, I am erring towards applying to the German School sooner rather than later. Afterall, the sooner he settles there, the easier the transition will be for him (both from a language point of view and emotionally – i.e. he will be missing his local friends)? The German primary school is a “morning school”, with rough schooltimes going from 8:30 am to 1:30pm. So that means you have you children home all afternoon (how lovely!).

This means, that my decision now is a little dependent on The Boy’s sister – who is almost 3yrs and about to start at the nursery at the state school. I just need to see what “slot” she gets – afternoons or mornings and then I can go ahead. Just think of the headachey logistics of one child in the school at the morning and one in the afternoon and driving in between in traffic to collect and drop…. plus I am a firm believer in “all parents in need a little time off, and will be better parents for it”. So if the kids are not in school/ nursery at the same time… that leaves no “time for me”. I know that sounds selfish, but honestly.. I just a morning or two a week.. and then I am happy!

So come September, I should find out when The Girl will go nursery (rumour has it, it will be afternoon – well, not rumour, I have been told verbally and I will try and “appeal”, before the official letters go out in writing). And then we shall see!

Some Vocabulary building games we have been playing:

In the meantime, I love playing “I Spy” with the kids in German. A FABULOUS way for us to build vocabulary together.

When reading picture books (both German and English ones), we play a combination of games – I ask the children to look for something in the pictures in German (“Who can find the red ball?” “Wer kann den roten Ball finden”) or ask questions about the details (“What does the boy have on his head?” “Was traegt der Junge auf dem Kopf?”) – invariable I will get an English answer, so I ask “Who knows the German word for it? And what colour is it?”. It is funny how much more The Boy likes speaking German, when you turn it into a game of even better *a competition he can win*!!!

Onwards and upwards.

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