Yes, I can see that the biggest challenge is just setting aside the time to do homework every night, and on that front I think we are succeeding. We both make the time to squeeze it in every evening now, even if it's right before we head upstairs to start bedtime. I haven't been successful in sticking to one particular time of day to do it. I think it would help us if it was always 'scheduled' at a certain time, but we do also need to stay flexible.
I'm happy to say that I am seeing some progress with her reading. I'm sure the biggest part of that success comes from the consistency of doing it daily. The phonics books we are working through are challenging for her, but she didn't struggle as much with the newest one that we read last night. I try to alternate one night of a new book in the set, and then one night of re-reading the older books because she breezes through the books on subsequent readings. This helps her keep her confidence up and not start to dread getting the books out each night.
Funny enough, the other day my daughter's kindergarten teacher told me that my daughter has now declared her name is pronounced the ML way. The teacher thinks it is amusing, but after nearly 2.5 years together, it is hard for her to remember to change her pronunciation. My daughter has said nothing about it to me, so I'm not sure what prompted her to want it changed.
Well, today we read the same new phonics based book that we did yesterday. Of course she breezed through it this time because she has it memorized after that one reading. I hope she still gets some sort of benefit from this because it's going to keep happening with each book.
Thanks for the suggestion, Marie. I must admit, I am overwhelmed with all the recommended resources I've found on this forum and from Adam's blog posts. Everything looks so good...but I've hesitated to order anything from anywhere other than my trusty amazon account. I actually just received another set of early reader books today. Everything we've been reading so far has been fairly easy for her as she can guess many of the words by looking at the illustrations on each page. But this new set is phonics based and actually forces her to read each word rather than guess. It definitely seemed a bit more challenging for her today. I think this set will last us through until Christmas and then we will be ready for all of the books she will be receiving as gifts.
The routine is continuing well so far. I'm definitely getting into a rhythm of selecting the pages / books for her in the morning and leaving it out on the table so we both remember to do it in the afternoon. Yesterday was her ballet class and thus, our busiest day...and we still managed to get homework done. I made sure to pick out a workbook activity that she would be excited about (she's really interested in rhyming words at the moment) so that she would still be eager to do it after a long day.
I've always thought my oldest daughter was very like me in many ways and her attitude towards doing workbooks and homework definitely fits with that (I was a very self-motivated, academic student...school work was sort of the one thing I was best at). Sometimes I fear she is making it too easy for me and I worry about how it is going to go with my younger daughter who is a completely different personality.
I have just enjoyed reading through your updates. I relate a lot to what you have posted. I am also raising my 2 children to be bilingual in a language that I don't (yet) speak, although in our case their second language is also the ML (and I plan to take some intensive language lessons in the new year). It is so amazing when you hear them speaking words and phrases that you don't know yourself, isn't it? I'm still a bit shocked by how well my daughter is picking up the language and like you, I encourage her to talk as much as she can with others...she started out so shy but now will speak in German to other parents and neighbors she meets and initiates conversations in German with those she feels comfortable with. I also have a younger child that is getting a little earlier exposure to the language so I am watching and waiting to hear her start speaking it.
Well, it looks like this is definitely the right place for me. I just started an accountability thread last week about starting a homework routine and teaching my daughter to read. So far, we have done well (stuck with our routine every day since I first posted last week, including Saturday and Sunday) and a big part of my success has come from utilizing this forum. We do a page or two of a writing workbook and she reads one or two little early reader books with me. I've started setting up her books at the table so they are waiting for her when she gets home from kindergarten and she is eager to do them. Now, it did happen to be a very rainy week last week and so we were in the house much more than usual, so finding the time was not hard. Today we are back to the usual afterschool activities so it will be more challenging to set aside the time for homework...I am up for the challenge though.
I really want to get this routine established this year. My daughter is 5 and in her last year of kindergarten before starting ML school next year (she was officially registered for school this weekend!). So this is her chance to get a head start on reading and writing in English. Next year her school day will be finished between 11:45 and 12:45 (alternating days) while her younger sister will still be in kindergarten for the afternoon so I think it will be much easier to fit in homework time...although we will then be doing homework in ML school as well.
I find the idea of academy classes that have been mentioned interesting. I don't know of anything like that around here, but there are plenty of international families and I know some native English-speaking moms who were formerly teachers. Perhaps at some point we will have to start up some classes of our own for native English speakers.
It's the end of the week and we have kept up with homework every night so far! While I had planned to set the writing workbooks aside for the time being to focus just on reading, they are what interests my daughter the most right now. To make sure we don't neglect to do our work, I usually set out a workbook open to the page I want her to do while she is away at kindergarten. Having it there on the table gets her to want to start working on it as soon as she sees it there.
When I recall learning to read myself, I have strong memories of learning to write my own stories...I think this was a major teaching strategy used by my first grade teacher. So with all of this in mind, I think I will look for more writing activities that I can have her do. We were both getting quite bored with the original books I had purchased which just have the child repeatedly write out a page of each alphabet letter. Finding activities that involve writing words and sentences will help both her writing and reading. Now I must find some new workbooks. Perhaps until then, I can have her write some messages out to send to family members with our Christmas cards.
I also visited a friend today who sells English children's books and purchased several new early readers for my daughter...I was intending to give them as Christmas gifts, but we'll see if we need new reading materials before then. I have also included many books on our Amazon wishlist which I will be directing my parents to when they ask what they should send as gifts this year.
Thank you both. She currently prefers to use the ML pronunciation with other ML speakers. So we will just go with that. I am registering her for school this week so we will hopefully get started off right at the new school.
I want to teach my 5-year-old to read (in our ml) this year, before she starts ML school next fall. We have started and I think she is doing very well and on target, but I need some accountability. I want to start a daily homework routine and have her reading to me every day, but we have been quite inconsistent! Writing I had planned to work on as well, but I'm less concerned with it as she is always drawing and coloring and does a bit of practice writing her name in ML kindergarten. Eventually I would like do to a page or two of our writing workbooks and read a few books every day, but I'm going to focus more on the reading for now.
Finding the time in our daily schedule is the tricky part, and also getting her to do it without the interference of her little sister (2.5 years). They are very good playmates so either the younger one wants to be doing what her older sister is (while climbing all over us), or else the older one wants to stop reading so she can go play with the younger one. The 5-year-old picks up on books really quickly because she has a great memory...so I struggle with challenging her with new books that she hasn't read (and memorized) before. She enjoys reading the books she already knows (memorizes) to her sister before bed.
I am going to try setting some time aside right after dinner for our homework. In September I told myself that we would do it right before dinner, but that isn't working out...sometimes I'm busy rushing to cook. I will also try to make reading to her little sister a bedtime habit.
The little one (will be 3 in December) is interested in learning her ABCs, but not picking it up as fast as her older sister did. So coming up with some sort of ABC activity she could do at homework time would also be helpful...but it can't be something that seems too interesting to my 5-year-old, or else she'll want to do it instead of her work. I'll have to keep thinking about that one.
I will attempt to explain our name situation...but am finding it difficult to write out clearly.
My 5-year-old old daughter's name (Charlotte) is common in both our ml (English) and the ML (German), however it is pronounced slightly differently. We of course use the English pronunciation and the consensus seems to be that other non-English speakers also attempt to pronounce it this way. However, it is easier for ML speakers to use the pronunciation they are familiar with and my 5-year-old does not correct them when this happens (for example, when someone is just reading her name from a list and hasn't heard her name being spoken). She has only been speaking the ML for 2 years and so, as she has learned the name for certain objects is different in each language, she naturally seems to have learned that her name is different in each language. Now when she introduces herself to a ML speaker, she will say her name with the ML pronunciation. I'm not sure if I should encourage her to do this, or encourage her to correct people who pronounce it the 'German way'.
The pronunciation issue gets complicated when we are dealing with native German speakers who also speak English (all of her kindergarten teachers for example, and many others). In their attempt to pronounce her name in 'English', they actually end up saying it incorrectly, and I happen to find this pronunciation the worst...I prefer the German pronunciation as it is exactly the same, just with the final 'e' at the end being pronounced, as a soft 'e' sound instead of being silent. Those attempting to do an 'English' pronunciation leave the 'e' silent, but seem to always pronounce the "Ch" as in cheese. I'm not great at listening to different accents and am just learning German myself, so it took me a long time to notice this happening, and so I didn't get the chance to correct her teachers at the beginning. Now it seems too much time has passed, and so I'm just looking towards the future when she starts school next fall. I want to get this name issue sorted out so that her new teachers and peers pronounce her name correctly. I did ask her what she would prefer, but she is only 5 so I'm also wondering what I should be encouraging and what others have done in this situation.
I understand your situation. We are a ml@h family, simply because we have no other choice - neither my husband nor myself can speak the ML well (we are learning slowly). This also led me to surround myself with other ml speakers when I first moved here, so all of our baby playgroups and play dates were also in the ml.
At age 2, I tried putting my daughter in a ML playgroup for 3 mornings a week, but half of the children enrolled (as well as one of the two teachers) ended up being ml speakers, so in the end I believe the class turned out to be mostly in ml for her and she was exposed to very little ML. Shortly after her 3rd birthday she started ML kindergarten. She is a shy, reserved child so I worried most of that year that she wasn't learning any ML and wasn't speaking...but after about 7-8 months, she was speaking the ML well. Now she is in her third year of kindergarten and I have no concerns. I don't think she is quite at the level of her ML peers yet, but her kindergarten teachers all say she is doing great and when she starts her first year of ML school next fall (at 6 years old), they have said they will provide her with extra help to catch up if they feel it is necessary.
For my younger daughter, I chose to enroll her earlier in ML kindergarten so she will have 4 years there (she started only a few months younger than 3 years old, but because of her December birthday, she will have 4 full years of kindergarten before starting school). I thought an extra year would be even more helpful to solidify the ML for her...and sending her earlier is giving me the free time to take more language lessons myself so that I will be more fluent in the ML when my oldest starts school next year.
I am sort of in the situation you asked about: a ml English mom who doesn't speak the ML German (well, I can do the basics after living here for 3 years, but am very limited). It is a bit different for me as my husband also does not speak the ML and our daughter did not start to learn until she turned 3 and went to a German kindergarten so she only knew English until that point. When she first started speaking German (sort of the point during her 3rd year when it 'clicked' for her and she became comfortable talking in Kindergarten), she tried to talk to me after school in German. I did not really have a solid bilingual strategy at that point and, as I am trying to learn German myself, I did play along and talk a bit in German with her when I could. However, she did not do that for long and definitely by her 4th birthday had very clear rules in her head about who she speaks German with and who she speaks English with.
As for pretending you don't speak the ML in public, while I can't quite sympathize with you because for me it's not 'pretend', I can tell you that I really do function in day to day life speaking little to no German. Smiling, nodding, and sticking to the minimum when speaking is necessary (Hallo, bitte, danke, etc.) can get you quite far. I'm not sure where you are in Germany, but perhaps at some places you could even consider responding to people in English. I'm in a very international area and English is widely spoken so many store clerks are used to customers speaking in English here.
I just wanted to post about some proud moments I've had with my 4 year old this week. We are a bit backwards here in that she learned ml first (English) and just started trying to learn ML German since starting kindergarten last year. She had 3 weeks off from kindergarten and I was struggling with if we should put more focus on English literacy at home those weeks, or if we should try to work on some German so she doesn't lose any progress she had made in school.
We ended up focusing on English only for those 3 weeks. Now she has been back at German kindergarten for 1 week and each of her 3 teachers have commented to me separately on how improved her German has gotten and how much more she is talking in class now! I am so proud of her. She is only in school for 2 weeks before we take a 3 week vacation to visit family in Canada. I am not going to worry about her German this time and will be happy to let her enjoy this trip to our ml home.
Thank you for the replies. Yes, schools have been on my mind, but I thought my initial post was long enough without adding that factor. We have several school options and need to start looking into them soon.
Until recently, I thought I had decided to go with an international school. There are two to choose from. I ruled out the completely international K-12 school, but was strongly considering the British international school which is only an elementary school that claims to offer higher level German instruction separately for those who speak fluently and is aligned with the German system such that the students will qualify to transfer to the German school system once they finish the elementary grades. I was on the fence with this decision, especially since going there would mean leaving her German kindergarten a year early and thus less initial German exposure. Finally I realized it made little sense to put my children in German kindergarten, then an international elementary school, all with the aim of them eventually going to a German gymnasium (high school). So I do believe that I will send the children to local German schools.
The choices have not ended however. I have not met with any local schools yet, but will plan to this fall. The first option is our local neighbourhood school that is very close to where we live. They claim to have a fairly large international student population and have some support to help non-natives with their German. I believe most of the international students at this school are from non-English speaking countries (mostly Arabic speaking) so she won't necessarily have English speaking peers. Also, this school ends at noon with only an optional activity program in the afternoon that can accommodate 50% of the students. So I could spend our afternoons at home doing some English literacy.
The other German school option is logistically harder to get to; about 40 minutes away by public transport (currently I don't use a car). The international student population at this school are English speakers. The school is not bilingual, but gives all students extra class hours in English. The school day also ends at noon, but they encourage all students to stay for the afternoon program which involves homework help, so I would be less inclined to have the children home in the afternoon to work on English.
A lot to still consider, but at least I feel confident in definitely choosing the German school route.
I'm feeling a bit lost right now. While we raise our bilingual children, my husband and I are also struggling to learn the ML (German) at the same time. The only exposure my children have to the ML is through the outside world, which is limited as they are young. We are raising our children (ages 1.5 and 4) in Germany, but as we came here 3 years ago with no German skills and live in a very international city, it has been too easy to fall into an English speaking bubble. Although we plan to live here permanently, I can see that without proper planning, the children could end up staying in this ml bubble permanently (e.g. attending the international schools & activities available here and socializing with other English speaking peers).
So, I am struggling with how much of each language to emphasize with my children. My soon-to-be 4 year old is about to finish her first year of German kindergarten, but I want to help her reach the level of her monolingual peers so she can keep up once she starts school at age 6. My youngest is just starting to talk and so I have a chance to change my approach with her if there is a better way.
As my oldest is about to start her summer break from kindergarten, I was planning to start some 'homework' activities with her. She has enjoyed learning her letters in English and I will continue to work on English literacy with her (and also read to her daily of course). At the same time, as a non ML speaker, I am always focused on learning German and want her to maintain some exposure to it during the 6 weeks she is away from kindergarten. I was hoping we could watch a few minutes of some German children's videos together daily and focus on learning the alphabet and numbers and maybe some vocabulary words on a topic of her choosing. Now I'm questioning if I'm on the right track, or if I should just focus on English with her?
For my youngest, I was planning to put her in a German speaking activity (we have a few English groups we attend already) and possibly enroll her in kindergarten or pre-kindergarten a year earlier than I did with her sister. My thinking was to get her more exposure to German at a younger age. But now reading through some posts on this forum, I feel like the odd person out as everyone else is trying to get their children exposed more to the ml, while here I am trying to expose them to more ML. Does my approach make sense?
I am new to the forum here and my family is in the same situation as yours (we are both native English speakers raising our children in Germany). My oldest daughter is about to turn 4 and had very little exposure to German her first 2 years, with very minimal exposure in her second year. Just after turning 3, she started German kindergarten (preschool) full time (5.5 hours, 5 days a week) and now her German is coming along nicely. We are lucky that she has 2 more years to work on her German before school starts at age 6. I am also just discovering this 'raising bilingual children' world and now questioning how much I need to worry about adding German to our life. Hopefully we both find some answers.
Hello everyone. I am very happy to have found this community! My husband and I are both English speakers from Canada. We have been living in Germany for 3 years and plan to stay permanently.
My oldest daughter will be turning 4 in two weeks time, and my youngest is 18 months. We have just been winging it so far, but I am happy to have found some resources to explore here. My husband and I are slowly learning German but are in no way fluent yet. We speak English at home so I guess that puts us in the 'Minority Language at Home' club. Raising my children here in Germany as a non-German speaker has had me focused more on them learning German, rather than emphasizing English. My oldest started German kindergarten this year and I fretted most of the year about her progress in picking up German and the fact that some of the teachers appeared to speak a fair amount of English to her rather than German. I've been encouraging her to watch programs in German, although she usually prefers English.
I guess I should be emphasizing English and not worrying about German.
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
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
Raquel: ^ Loved the Top-Secret Research studies!!
Oct 23, 2017 20:57:42 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Muchas gracias, Raquel!
Oct 24, 2017 5:24:58 GMT 9
Mayken: Me too! Can't decide which top secret file I'd want to get my hands on first!
Oct 26, 2017 4:44:55 GMT 9
Amy: ml1 extended week-end ahead with ml1 grandparents flying in tonight
Oct 28, 2017 4:31:57 GMT 9
Mayken: Follow-up on my daughter's visit at my old ml school: the headmistress suggested a penpal set-up between the class there and my daughter's class here. Let's see what my daughter's regular ml teacher says. I think that'd be cool. (The kids are in 2nd grade.
Oct 28, 2017 6:09:00 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Have a fun weekend, Amy! And Mayken, that sounds like a great idea! Cheers to you both, and to all!
Oct 28, 2017 7:18:43 GMT 9