I'm Gareth, originally from the UK and living with my German wife and our five week old daughter Naomi in Düsseldorf, Germany.
We're enjoying getting used to life as parents and deciding how we want to go about giving Naomi the best possible chance of learning both English and German. As my wife is (initially) at home and I'm at work all day, I'm concerned that it won't be enough if I'm the only person speaking English, especially as we have a lot of German friends and visitors at home. My wife is thinking of speaking a mixture of English and German to "up" the English input...but we're not sure if that would confuse Naomi. Anyway, we're still experimenting and reading up on the best approach, so I'm delighted to have found this forum and the Bilingual Monkeys website, and am enjoying reading your questions, ideas and experiences. It's encouraging to read so many success stories, and see that many of you are in similar situations to us!
As a daughter of an English father and a German mother and having been born and raised in Germany, I can assure you: it can be done.
I am now passing on the gift I received from my parents to my own children - as are my brother and sisters!
Our father had to work a lot, but always took time to read and talk to us in English intensively for at least half an hour every day, and it was enough to get us to a point where we could top it off on our own with additional reading, talking to other native speakers, and watching films in English.
You have come to the right place - there is lots of encouragement among the zoo members, and there are several parents in similar situations (where the father is the ml speaker and less present at home). And the rest of us will give encouragement too.
What language do you speak together, your wife and you? If you do speak English, then maybe it makes sense to keep English as your family language. When your wife is alone with Naomi, maybe she'll switch to German, as it is probably more natural to her.
Frankly, your daughter will learn German very quickly, especially if she goes to German-speaking daycare. It's not about German that I would worry. Sam started daycare at 15 months, and he had no problem understanding and "speaking" with the staff, although we stopped talking German at home.
Gareth, welcome! I see you've already been greeted warmly at the gate by other keepers!
First, congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your daughter! If you haven't already come across it, this resource page for new parents, at my blog, could be of special interest.
As for your situation, since you're the main minority language parent and yet not the main caregiver, the odds of success will be much higher if your wife is actively using English with little Naomi. In fact, I don't know whether or not this would be viable for your family, but you would probably experience the most success by adopting English as your home language (the "minority language at home" approach). In other words, English is used by both you and your wife at home, with your daughter and with each other. Outside the home, you could switch to German, stick to English, or try a blend of both (you continue speaking English while your wife uses German).
Ultimately, her acquisition of German won't be an issue (as Elodie mentioned); your essential challenge is making sure that she's receiving enough exposure to English on a daily basis.
Gareth, best wishes on your bilingual journey!
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
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Amy: Right you are Mayken!
Mar 28, 2018 1:43:20 GMT 9
Marisa: Way to go, Mayken! That's the (bilingual) spirit
Mar 29, 2018 0:55:54 GMT 9
Kristin T.: Will check out your podcast interview on my next run!
Mar 30, 2018 23:24:37 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter brought home her ml report card (she gets a separate one from the regular report card at her bilingual school), and it's straight A's! (Better than her marks in ML on the main report card.) I'm so proud!!!
Mar 31, 2018 6:10:44 GMT 9
Amy: Gratuliere (Congratulations) Mayken!!
Mar 31, 2018 16:54:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Thank you, Amy! As a reward, we allowed her to purchase a big item from her Christmas money--a Playmobil house, with which she now plays in ml!
Apr 4, 2018 3:37:31 GMT 9
Amy: Reward all the way round . Bilingual education can be a virtuous circle
Apr 4, 2018 5:26:18 GMT 9
Nellie: What great news, Mayken!
Apr 5, 2018 4:36:26 GMT 9
Raquel: I totally missed this. Congratulations, Mayken!! You have reason to be proud
Apr 10, 2018 20:08:02 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks everyone! Today my daughter helped a classmate finish her ml homework just before school - all in ml. (My daughter had finished hers the day before at home.)
Apr 11, 2018 3:58:56 GMT 9
Raquel: I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing, Adam. She sounds like an amazing woman. Sending you a big hug from Madrid.
Apr 12, 2018 18:16:38 GMT 9
Marie: I am sorry to hear about your mother Adam. Thinking of you and your family.
Apr 13, 2018 4:25:21 GMT 9
Jana: What a beautiful tribute you wrote to your mother. Sending condolences from the SF Bay Area!
Apr 14, 2018 5:34:03 GMT 9
Kristin T.: I enjoyed reading your post about your mother. Those were some amazing photos to cherish forever. I am sorry for your loss. I know it's ever the more painful having been an expat so long. Take care & be kind to yourself.
Apr 16, 2018 2:24:35 GMT 9
Nellie: I'm so sorry to read about your mother Adam. She sounds like an incredible woman. Your friends across the world are thinking of you and your family!
Apr 17, 2018 0:50:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Thank you, everyone, for your warm expressions of sympathy on the loss of my mother. Your friendship and support has meant a lot to me at this challenging time.
Apr 17, 2018 7:44:14 GMT 9