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: Just received your novel Adam, just in time for the weekend! I already read 3 chapters and am loving the style! Congrats!
Feb 10, 2018 6:25:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: That's so nice to hear, Amy! I look forward to more impressions as you continue reading!
Feb 10, 2018 10:46:14 GMT 9
Mayken: After writing a letter in the ML to her new friend for whom it is the ml, my daughter is now on the phone with her friend from ml country. (And hiding in her room with my phone. No more phone cords to hold her back.)
Feb 11, 2018 23:13:29 GMT 9
Nellie: Book ordered Adam!
Feb 15, 2018 6:20:36 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - so cute! The terrible teens are approaching!
Feb 15, 2018 6:21:21 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nellie, thank you! I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your impressions!
Feb 15, 2018 6:34:04 GMT 9
Wojtek: I found sample Eiken tests on grade 5 and 4 (There was Adam's article) and did the first part with my daughter (20 questions). On Grade 5 she did 16 of 20 correctly and on grade 4: 12 of 20. Not so bad though. She failed those where grammar was included.
Feb 15, 2018 20:43:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, your daughter is still very young so I would say those are really positive results! Your efforts are clearly producing a lot of progress. Good for you, and good for your daughter!
Feb 16, 2018 7:52:23 GMT 9
Undraa: A big congrats from my end to you for your new book Adam!
Feb 16, 2018 16:50:56 GMT 9
Wojtek: Big thanks, Adam. Those tests on grade 5 are so basic but anyway they prove that my girl understands them and knows the answers. That was quite interesting experience.
Feb 16, 2018 16:54:32 GMT 9
Wojtek: Congratulations on your book, Adam! I read the beginning on Amazon and as always I have the impression you took several pages from the dictionary with a range of sophisticated words and just put them in. That's why the book will be very valuable for me.
Feb 16, 2018 17:01:19 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, thanks! Even if you're unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, I think the lively story will carry you through the book. I hope you enjoy it, and also find it useful for your English!
Feb 16, 2018 18:43:12 GMT 9
Dani: Hi everyone, It has been a while... Congrats on your new book Adam! Would love to get a copy too.
Feb 17, 2018 8:30:36 GMT 9