This post was written for February’s edition of the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival, hosted by Adam over at Bilingual Monkeys. Inspired by Valentine’s Day, he asked that we share a post about the things we love about raising bilingual children, since we all too often write about the challenges. A wonderful idea!
The decision to raise our children bilingual was an easy one. I always knew I wanted to pass on my love of language. I just didn’t know how challenging it would be! But it’s been worth every moment
I swell with pride every time I hear one of my boys spontaneously speak German. It’s one thing to drag it out of them, insisting that it’s German time, so they need to answer in German. But when they do it on their own, I know it’s all worth it.
Here are a few little anecdotes of our small successes….
Aleksander attends a Montessori school for Kindergarten. When a child has a birthday, there are no cupcakes and party. Instead, they have a beautiful ceremony. The family is invited to attend, so Kearnan, my parents, and Julia (our au pair from Austria) all came along. I wrote out a little story of the life of Aleksander and brought in a picture for each year of his life (impossible task to choose just one for each year!). The birthday child is accompanied by two friends into the circle and is given the globe of the earth to hold. For each year, he walks around the sun holding the earth. The sun is laid out on the floor, labeled with months. Aleksander and Kearnan set it up before the ceremony. As Aleksander picked up the blocks for each month, he counted out the months up to that one. And he did it in German! There the two of them were, counting out loud for the whole class to hear. It may sound like a small thing, but I was overjoyed! And then, of course, I always cry during the ceremony
Lately, I’ve been hearing Kearnan singing a lot. He sings all kinds of songs that he knows. And the other day, I heard him singing “Ich bin die kleine Hexe” (from Die 30 besten Spiel- und Bewegungslieder). Woo hoo!!!! And we haven’t even heard that song in months! As if that wasn’t great enough, he recently gave us a little concert after lunch. He sang “Alle meine Entchen,” “Der Mond ist aufgegangen,” “Schlaf, Kindlein, Schlaf,” and “La, Le, Lu.” I was grinning from ear to ear! I had no idea he remembered the words to all those songs!
When I was putting Kearnan down for a nap recently, he was giving me some trouble as I tried to get him into a sleepsack. So I started asking him things like “Wo ist deine Nase?” (Where is your nose?) He knew all the words!
These may sound like small triumphs. But considering how inconsistent we’ve been with German, I take every little bit of production as one more step on the journey to bilingualism.
I don’t know if my kids will ever speak fluent German. But I still feel like it’s worth it to keep plugging away at it. I still believe they gain so much from it.
Here are my sweet boys holding hands as we walked through Ikea :) Happy Valentine’s Day!