German in the Afternoon

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

One Month In … Wait till you hear! June 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate R @ 5:06 pm
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Well, here it is, the beginning of June. Lisa has been here almost a month now. When I wrote about my language plans for after her arrival, everything was so unknown! When I (rather casually) posed the question of insisting on German from Aleksander, I didn’t expect to get such a strong reaction from at least one reader :)  I really appreciate the feedback, though, because it made me really think about things. So here’s how it’s all going….

First of all, Lisa is just perfect! She is so sweet and wonderful with the boys. She is patient and open and flexible. She is also very observant: I notice her picking up on things without me having to say anything at all. I really enjoy having her here, too. We respect each other’s privacy and private time but also enjoying talking and spending some time together. I really can’t imagine anyone better!

On the language front, we took things slowly in the first few days. I had been preparing Aleksander for her arrival for months and also was letting him know that German would be making a reappearance in our home. Lisa arrived on a Friday, and so I told him that starting Monday, we’d go back to our format of German in the mornings (until naptime at 2) and English in the afternoons. I had thought that Lisa would simply speak German all the time with the boys, but that didn’t really happen. I think we spoke a mixture of the languages over the weekend. And then on that Monday, we started with German in the morning, and Lisa followed suit, switching ton English in the afternoon. At first I wasn’t sure about it. But now, it feels really good! Oh, and absolutely no insisting that Aleksander speak German from myself or Lisa :)

Aleksander resisted in the beginning  –  not at all unexpected. But we persisted ;)

Then about two-and-a-half weeks later, we had a houseful of guests. My in-laws along with PER’s aunt arrived for a 10-day visit. At the same time, my parents also visited for a week (They were sent to a hotel, as our “inn” was full up! As it was, Kearnan slept in my office, so PER’s aunt could have his room!). As usual, when we have guests, I have a hard time sticking to German. With all the extra hands, Lisa also had a lot more down-time, which made it even more challenging to be consistent with German. So we just went with the flow.

As of this past Monday, our guests were gone, and we got right back in to German. Lisa has been great about it. I still forget sometimes :)  Now – just two days later – some extraordinary things are happening!!!

Aleksander came in to Kearnan’s room this morning as I was getting him dressed and announced that he could read some stories in German! (He started asking for a German story or two in the days before.) So he sat down and started reading his German story. It wasn’t perfect. But he got very far in to it! He tried to figure out some of the words he didn’t know.  And he asked for help with the harder words he didn’t recognize. I couldn’t believe it!! He’s been reading in English for almost a year now and is astoundingly good at it. But with so little German input in the past year, I figured it would be quite a while before we could expect any significant reading in German, too. Nope. There he was, reading along. I don’t know how much he actually understands. He has the same story in English, so he knows what it’s about. Maybe that helps? I don’t know. Heck, even if he doesn’t understand any of it, I’m just so thrilled that he actually WANTS to read German!!!

I went out later in the morning, and when I got back, Lisa had even more good news for me. Up until now, Aleksander would occasionally start to say a German word, catch himself, and switch back to English. But now, he is also speaking some German to her! They were reading a German book we got from the library (I’ll talk more about that in a moment) called “Das kleine ich bin ich” by Mira Lobe, and he started repeating the “ich bin ich” and naming some of the animals in the book. Also, at lunch, when Lisa declared “Ich bin satt! ["I'm full"], he asked what “satt” means. Lisa told him, and then he too declared “Ich bin satt!

WOW!!!!!

I never expected to see so much progress in such a short time, especially with the long break while we had visitors. I’m so excited!! And so proud of him :)

Oh, and Kearnan may not be speaking yet, but he is also being impressed by German. He definitely understands some of the books we read and transfers the words to other experiences. He isn’t saying whole words, but he signs and says the beginning sounds. Today, he finally said “Haaaa” for “Hase” ["bunny"] instead of “buuuuuh”! I can’t imagine what kind of an impact this year is going to have on his language development!

My German is doing pretty well, too, by the way :)  I definitely have trouble and make mistakes, but I can already feel it coming a little more readily than it had been.

Ah yes, and we also finally visited the German story hour! Remember the one I started a few years ago? Well, one of the other moms – who happens to be both German and a school teacher – took up the reigns and has really run away with it! It’s so popular, the little room is crowded every week! And she does and AMAZING job with it! It’s everything I had wanted it to be :)  We’ll go again on Friday. And then there is one more meeting before the summer break. Unfortunately, since Aleksander will be in school in the fall, he won’t be able to attend. But Kearnan can! It’s all so exciting!!

Welcome back, German!!

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3 Responses to “One Month In … Wait till you hear!”

  1. Sylvie Says:

    Yay! Happy for you! See, it will all come naturally. No pressure needed.

    Our new girl will also arrive in a month. Hoping it’s a better choice this time :).

  2. Fiona S Says:

    Hi there, my daughter is only a little older than Aleksander so really interesting to see how you’ve got on. I can see we’ve kind of had things easy as my husband only speaks to her in German since she was born. We’re in the UK. But it has taken to this year and nearly aged 5 that my daughter has started properly speaking German (rather than odd words, phrases and song lines) – the immersion approach of spending the summer in Germany with her Papa and Opa and visiting friends and family has certainly paid off (whilst I’m back in the UK working and just visiting). With the English environment we didn’t go for OPOL as we felt it useful that I was also speaking German (fluent after studying chemistry a year in Germany 20 years ago).
    Good luck for your summer with more German speaking – I’m sure our passion for languages and all the other social and cultural benefits as well as having another way to communicate can only be a good thing, especially in English speaking countries where there is a general complacency or perhaps laziness.

  3. Sylvie Says:

    UPDATE KATE!


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