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.
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Amy: Agnese, it is simply because they never had the opportunity to be acquainted so closely to that language. Just smile and keep going. Over time (even if this may seem long), the comments will fade. Don't show your son you are embarrassed by your ml.
Jul 16, 2018 3:56:41 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Agnese, I strongly second Amy's advice! Stay strong and continue speaking Italian!
Jul 18, 2018 6:22:37 GMT 9
Adam Beck: And Agnese, keep in mind that, above all, the highest priority is your bilingual aim, not the other passing concerns that are part of this experience (for us all). Don't let these distract you from the greater goal.
Jul 18, 2018 6:24:49 GMT 9
Agnese: Thank you! After this setback I feel stronger than ever! The same day of the incident I ordered plenty of books in the ml on Amazon and I'm reading every day new research on bilingualism and bilingual education. I'm ready to defend my goal! Thanks
Jul 19, 2018 18:37:58 GMT 9
Agnese: Thank you for the suggestion!
Jul 21, 2018 15:40:43 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter met some inversed ML/ml kids today who live in our ml country. Their parents probably weren't thrilled they found n ML (for them) friend in their ml country. I'm sorry...a little bit.
Aug 7, 2018 2:07:34 GMT 9
Amy: Looks like the 3 weeks in ml1 country paid off: my ML mother reports my youngest would only speak ml1 to her! Lol Not sure ML childminder will be so happy when she returns... loool!
Aug 25, 2018 0:38:50 GMT 9
Mayken: Sounds like fun times ahead, Amy! Keep us posted.
Aug 27, 2018 23:15:08 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Something Strange Happened 2 Days After We Moved into Our New House (And Its Significance to Change and Transformation on the Bilingual Journey)buff.ly/2ww8WDD
Aug 31, 2018 10:30:39 GMT 9
Amy: Happiest bilingual mum in the world : the new lady who conducts activities in ml2 with my eldest just assessed her level as pretty much equivalent to that of a native ml2 child! After that awful back-to-school start, this is like music to my ears.
Sept 6, 2018 0:00:13 GMT 9
Wojtek: I've been thinking for a long time to write an update and hopefully, I will do it one day. My brother married a Russian woman. That was nice to see that my 5-year-old daughter could play with her and speak English together!
Sept 7, 2018 21:37:25 GMT 9
Wojtek: After some time, she ran up and told me: "She is speaking English!"
Sept 7, 2018 21:38:31 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice to hear your happy news, Wojtek! And congratulations to your brother and his bride! It sounds like they may have a bilingual child in their future, too! Cheers to you all!
Sept 7, 2018 21:58:17 GMT 9