I am about to (any day now...tick tock tick tock) have my first child and my German husband and I intend to raise him to be bilingual and biliterate in German and English.
Our challenge is this: we will be living in the US for about a year, with English as the ML (majority language) and German as the ml (minority language), and are then looking to move to Germany, at which time the language roles will switch!
Our family scenario is this: my husband is a native German speaker and is fluent in English (and Spanish). I am a native (American) English speaker and a beginner-level German speaker. We both work from home so we hope this will allow us to use the two languages as often as possible.
I just finished reading Adam's book and my husband is reading it as I type. I found it very helpful both in principle and practice; there are a lot of tools and techniques I look forward to trying.
My main question for Adam (and anyone else who has insight) is this: should my husband exclusively use German and I English while living in the US for that first year?
And, upon living in Germany, should we both exclusively use English in the home so that the massive influence of German (his family doesn't speak English and he'll likely attend a German school) doesn't prevail over English?
I guess there isn't an exact answer or formula but just wanting some insight on our situation and how you think it might best be handled! Thank you so much for the book and this space to share thoughts.
Jessica, welcome! And CONGRATULATIONS to you and your husband on the impending debut of your first child! Feel free to share a photo at the New Babies board, if you like!
About your circumstances, as you suggested, there really isn't a "right" answer, but here are my thoughts...
Since both of you are at home, and can potentially provide strong input in both languages, I would agree that starting with the "one person, one language" approach would probably serve the family well (and not only for the baby's sake, but hearing your husband speak German regularly will aid your own growing acquisition of that language).
I would add, too, that just in case your plans change and you end up staying longer in the U.S., the fact that your husband is speaking German to the child--rather than English--would grow even more significant. If he starts by speaking English, and you remain in the U.S., shifting gears to German could then become more problematic.
Assuming you do move to Germany in a year or so, you may choose to modify your approach so both parents are using only English at home or, in fact, you could simply continue on more or less the same course, with you speaking English and your husband speaking German--though he might start using some English with the child, too. It really depends on the circumstances at that time, but if you can continue providing ample English input yourself, a full-on switch by your husband may not be necessary. And it's also true that German schooling and society lend good support to the acquisition of English so this is another important factor in your favor. (In Japan, for instance, English is taught poorly in the schools and not used very widely in society. )
So it sounds to me like your new baby has a very bright bilingual--even multilingual--future ahead of him! (And I hope my work can continue to be a source of support to you as time goes by! Warm thanks to you both for reading my book!)
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.
Mayken: My daughter's ml homework for this week included baking a cake - there's a cake in the story they read, and after each chapter there are questions and tasks, and the current chapter has the step-by-step recipe. She's to bring the cake to school too.
May 1, 2018 23:48:48 GMT 9
Amy: What a nice original homework! Makes such a change from standard homework, and I wouldn't be surprised if kids remember more from it! I like your bilingual school Mayken! Lucky little girl, and lucky Mummy!
May 2, 2018 0:00:43 GMT 9
Mayken: ml cake homework update: About half the class brought cake (8 out of 15), not all of them were the cake from the book recipe, but my daughter's was the most popular. (Maybe because we added food colouring and topped it with chocolate icing and smarties?)
May 4, 2018 5:58:10 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Cake is definitely my favorite kind of homework!
May 4, 2018 11:28:51 GMT 9
Jana: One of the best parts of having kids in bilingual school was getting Mother's Day cards in two languages! (With less-than-perfect spelling in both!) Ha!
May 15, 2018 9:16:08 GMT 9
Amy: (Twice) Lucky you Jana! So nice to read exciting pieces of news like yours!
May 16, 2018 5:46:25 GMT 9
Mayken: I still have that to look forward to, Jana! Mother's Day in our ML country is two weeks later, and the ml teacher goes along with that date. (It was last Sunday in our ml country.)
May 16, 2018 5:58:11 GMT 9