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 book "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability", praised worldwide by parents and experts in the field. Available at Amazon amzn.to/22XKuCt, the global Amazon sites, and other booksellers.
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Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Many thanks, Marisa! In my humble opinion, more bilingual kids = more empathy in the world = a more peaceful planet.
Oct 18, 2017 7:33:04 GMT 9