Sunday, 11 May 2008

PROFILE: Johannes & Anne (German in the US)

General background

Which country do you live in and what is the community language?
We live in the US surrounded by English.

Which languages do you speak with your child?
I speak German with my child, though English outside of the home and when we're with English speakers. (we changed from strict ml to that when he was 3.5, because he seemed traumatized by English. Now, of course, we've gone the other way, but, well, there you go.).

What language system are you using (OPOL/ML@H/etc)?
We use ml@home.

What are the names and ages of your children?
Johannes,6; Anne 1.5 (I’ll speak about my son primarily, since Anneke isn’t saying much yet.

What languages do you speak and to what level (Basic/Intermediate/Advanced/Fluent)?
English, fluent; German, Advanced/Fluent (I would say advanced, my husband describes me as fluent).

Why have you chosen to raise your child with more than one language?
It seemed a shame not to! And I so regret not starting languages earlier.

How are you passing on the different languages and/or culture?
At the beginning, we spoke only German in the home, now our son speaks mostly English, and we respond in German. He belonged to a German-speaking playgroup from age 3-age 6, and we are now sending him to a German Saturday school.

Non-native issues

Do you seek to improve your own non-native language and, if so, how?
I continue to read, I am currently working on a translation certificate.

Do you get support for teaching your child from native speakers?
My husband is bilingual, though English is his stronger language. I received great encouragement from the families in our playgroup.

Does your child ever teach or correct you?
Very occasionally.

In terms of your emotional relationship with your child, do you feel speaking in a non-native language adds something, takes something away, or both?
Both. We have developed a relationship in German from the outset, but sometimes I miss being able to not think about how to say something before I say it. It adds a layer of objectivity, though that can come in handy at times, if I am annoyed about something – sort of an enforced counting to ten.

Are there any particular advantages or disadvantages to speaking a non-native language with your child?
It’s nice to have a code language at times so that I can remind him to do something without embarrassing him, but when we started and were doing it all the time, it could be isolating on the playground.

How have your family and friends – and strangers - reacted to your decision?
In general supportive. Some native Germans think I’m crazy, and an occasional person has suggested that it might have contributed to certain language delays he had.

Has it ever proved difficult or challenging?
When he started preschool he had a very hard time adjusting to English, and we had to remove him from the first school and start with a smaller one, where they gave him more support. In addition, his grammar suffers a bit in both languages.

And, conversely, what has been the most rewarding aspect?
It’s an amazing thing to watch him be able to switch back and forth, and great to know that we can travel and not worry about him understanding. He reads in both languages as well.

And finally, do you always plan to speak the non-native language with your child?
I hope to, though I notice that it is getting more challenging, not only because he is getting older and getting better, but also because he really wants to speak ML more often.
Pin It now!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Anne,
    I just wanted to say how much I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all of those's fascinating and exciting for me to read through them, as another mother raising her child in non-native German.
    If you're interested, I'd love to communicate with you further about your experiences...when I read your line about wishing that you didn't have to "think about what you say before you say it", a sense of relief came over me, just knowing that someone else is experiencing the same thing (even though I know there are SO many other families doing this, it's great to find one like this).
    Anyhow, thanks again. If you're interested in communicating further, feel free to drop me a line at:
    Take care, and viel Glueck!


Please comment, as I love to hear your thoughts!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...