Friday, October 19, 2007

Budding Bilingualism 101


We are trying to raise bilingual children (German/English). Trying, of course, is the operative word :) Because our opportunities for interaction with native German speakers are few and far between, I see my kids turning more and more to English. They pretty much only speak German with me. However, one thing that's helped is having almost all their media intake be in German (songs, DVDs, books, computer, even some battery-operated toys). They love Benjamin Blümchen (above) and Bob Baumeister (Bob the Builder); they know more Children's Songs in German than English, and think every book is in German (I translate a lot of library books on the fly).
I have been trying harder to focus our bilingual attempts, since I think I am taking the easy road a lot of the time and just resorting to English, especially when DH is around or other kids. I am reading Raising Bilingual Children: a parent's guide and it has had some great insights/research to share. One of the things it talks about is "code-switching" where the kids use the two languages interchangeably in one conversation. Yep. That'd be my kids...

Some fun things we come across...
  • The word for ice in German is "Eis" - which they also use for ice cream. Because of this, when the Bubbs hits her head, she turns to DH and says, "I have an owie, I need to put ice cream on it." It cracks me up!
  • For the longest time, in our church nursery, my kids would be very confused at "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". In the German version, the ending goes "Aug, Ohr, Nase, Mund" (eye, ear, nose, mouth) The English is "Eyes, ears, mouth & nose" and I know the other women wondered why my kids were always pointing to the wrong body part...
  • There's so many.. but this is my all-time favorite: In German, when a kid goes to the bathroom, "Ich muss Kacke machen" and Bubbs literally translates and says to DH, "Daddy, I have to make a poop." I enjoy it every time!

Just some random thoughts I was thinking about as I was reading this book! Now we've to find a German preschool that doesn't cost $6000! :)

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