German in the Afternoon

Speaking German with my little boys – bilinguialism one afternoon at a time

Sweet Language Moments April 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 8:52 pm
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We just put Aleksander to bed. After a shower with Daddy (his new favorite thing instead of a bath), PER and I got him in his pajamas. Usually I read him a book and then say goodnight, and PER brushes his teeth and finishes the bedtime routine. But tonight, Aleksander wanted Daddy to read to him first.

Okay, the sight of Aleksander curled up with his Daddy is already enough to melt my heart :) But then Aleksander chose a Dutch book:Bobbi wort grote broer [Bobbi Becomes a Big Brother].

I love the Bobbi series – even though I can’t actually read it. They’re such sweet children’s books with wonderful drawings of a bear named Bobbi.

What really got me, though, was that Aleksander loves this book! I wonder how much Dutch he understands at this point? I know PER has been reading this book to him lately. And I can’t imagine a child would choose to sit through a book he can’t understand. Right? Then, I realized PER was leaving off the last word of each verse (the books is written in rhyme). And Aleksander was doing a pretty good job of filling in the missing word! Now, of course, we do this with him in English and German, but I was so surprised to hear him doing it in Dutch!! There were a few hard/long words he didn’t get. But most of the words sounded pretty close – to my ears, at least. Amazing! I sat there watching it with a big, goofy grin on my face :D

As for German, Aleksander is doing quite well. I just wish I could get him into more German-speaking situations and environments. He continues to be my little language police, letting me know that he knows it’s German time in the morning and English time after his nap. And he catches me every single time I slip into the wrong language! Sometimes he even seems annoyed when I speak English to PER during lunch!

When the two of us are alone, I notice him speaking some more German, too. He still mixes the languages a bit, though. Today he went running through the kitchen, giving his usual commentary. “Are you running?” he asked (as if I were supposed to be asking him the questions). So I translated, “Läufst du?” Then I heard him say, “Are you läufst du?”

Last week, our playgroup met at the park, so the boys could play on the slides and swings. But this time, Anika’s mom was visiting from Germany. She doesn’t really speak any English, so Aleksander heard a lot more German being spoken. The result was that he spoke a lot more German, too! Frau Kiehne was highly impressed, in fact, by the things he said – and so was I! When he first went down the slide, he went so slowly that I asked him, “Bist du eine Schnecke?” [Are you a snail?] Later on he repeated the same thing as Frau Kiehne watched him go down the slide. Then as she was about to catch Logan and said, “Ich fange dich” [I'll catch you], Aleksander followed and asked, “Du mich auch?” [me, too?]. I didn’t hear that one myself. I actually find it rather hard to believe! It sounds somehow very advanced to me – but maybe that’s the non-native speaker in me??? Ah well – the main thing is that he was speaking a lot more German!! And it continued as we drove home and then had lunch. I’ve been after Anika to start a German playgroup, but she’s been so busy teaching. Now that the semester is over, I’m going to have to start pushing again! I think it makes such a big difference!

On the other hand, my German story hour isn’t going as well. Attendance has been low these past couple of months, and I’m not quite sure why. Also, Aleksander is getting rather unruly. He’s starting to interrupt more and sometimes does not want me even reading a book. It’s very disruptive – not to mention embarrassing. He never behaves that way at music class, but then my full attention is on him, and I’m not trying to do the teaching. I’m thinking of having a babysitter come with me to see if that helps. My mom will be here for our next session, so she’ll come with us, and we’ll see how that goes. Otherwise, I’m not quite sure what to do….

I’m hoping the third time is a charm for finding a German-speaking babysitter! I have an interview in a couple of weeks with a college student who will be home for the summer. She grew up bilingually in the US. I’m curious to know more about that, too! I just hope it works out this time. It would be great to have someone else around who speaks German with Aleksander. Great for my German, too! Even if it is only for the summer.

One final German story…. Aleksander has discovered the stop sign. We live at the end of a long street and have been taking walks to the end and back – or to the stop sign. So now he points them out every time he sees one. Let me tell you, I had no idea there were so many stop signs around! In the mornings when are driving around (and speaking German), he calls out, “Noch ein Stoppschild!” [Another stop sign!] It’s awfully sweet :)

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2 Responses to “Sweet Language Moments”

  1. Tracey Says:

    That´s great! Aleksander appears to be making great progress!Good luck with finding a German babysitter-hope the interview works out!

    • KateR Says:

      Thanks, Tracey! It helps to make note of these little successes :) There are just so many ups and downs with this bilingual ride! I’ll keep everyone posted about the babysitter search…. :)


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