Musings from a Bilingual Family
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 ed medications 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).
Now that is indeed a grand title. If you had read my last post on the bilingual topic, you would see, that I believe I am failing terribly…. and I am not sure that I am allowed to call us a “Bilingual” family at all.
And then we had a good “language week”.
My children’s sentences have been peppered with German words (Gummibandel, P is aegern me, I will go an pfluecken strawberries, Mamma), which makes me think that there is hope yet.
I have made an effort to pick out German books at bedtime and when on my own focus on speak German with them and getting to repeat German vocabulary. It hasn’t been the easiest of bilingual weeks, as we have a French Student staying to learn English. So we have had to speak English for TWO weeks. Yikes. I will have to be very disciplined about German once she leaves.
But I guess, the fact that there is German vocabulary in their daily conversation is a good sign. Also, the French student has been good for highlighting how hard it is to learn a language later on. And The Boy is now keen to teach everyone German “at the weekend” (let’s teach Granny and Grandpa, Mummy).
We have decided to accept the local primary school place – which of course in English. Now I really need to make a decision about the German School and at what age it is best to make the switch (I am told, no later than 8 years). The deposit for the school is HUGE, so we really need to be sure, before we reserve a place. But I still think it is the best way for the children to become truly bilingual. And it has the added benefit of doing the baccalaureate. Now you can’t complain about that?! Just the local school is lovely and SO convenient and all his friends would live in the area… argh..
Anyway. No decisions need to be made JUST YET.
In the meantime onwards and upwards.
I love the fact that children absorb language so easily, especially at a young age. You are passing such an amazing gift to them without realising it. I am a French teacher but not French so I didn’t have the confidence to bring them up bilingually, but I encourage them and reach them all the time. When they reach the teenage years, it becomes more difficult as they become self conscious so it is great to put in the ground work. As for the school, that is a tough one, but remember you are doing an amazing thing for them that try will thank you for one day!