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Reply with quote  #1 

My husband and I are both native English speakers with 7 month old twins. I am a non native German speaker, having learned it through total immersion as an exchange student in high school. I later studied German in college and worked abroad for a semester. I am a stay at home mom, and speak to my children in German while at home, which is 80% of the time. They hear English the remaining 20% of the time from their father and in the community here in Florida. I am seriously considering home schooling later, and would want to school them in English.


My questions are: Are they being exposed to enough English ? Is it possible for me to speak English with them when my husband is present and when we are in the community, or would that be too confusing ? Living in south Florida, there are many opportunities to interact in Spanish. We would like to start learning Spanish as a family once our children are a bit older. Would it be too confusing to introduce a third language around age 3 ?

I would appreciate any answers you are able to give. I have searched the internet and I almost reverted back to English in fear of doing horrible irreparable damage to my children. I am so glad I happened upon this site !

Reply with quote  #2 
Fantastic -- join the club of other non-native speakers here. Many more than one would think!

Don’t worry about the English. They will learn it, guaranteed! See this article about both parents speaking the minority language at home (ML@H). They face the same concerns.

If you just have sufficient interaction for them and they perceive a need to learn Spanish starting that around 3 years is perfect. However, don’t feel you need to wait, per se. They would do well to start the Spanish already if it is practical for you. It can only help to get as much exposure as possible early on -- in particular for the pronunciation and grammar development. People often underestimate the value of knowing a language passively. Taking it from that state to actually speakin it is a surprisingly small step later on. More on language development in these short articles.

All the best,
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Christina Bosemark
Founder & List Moderator
Multilingual Children’s Association

Anneka Brimhall
Reply with quote  #3 

Liebe Michelle,

     We spoke only German with our 8 year old son for the first 6 years, even thought it didn't come naturally to my husband.  We spoke English to each other.  I home-schooled him in the first grade and decided to do it in English because the curriculum was cheaper and easier for me to understand ( I learned German as an adult) and just taught Deutsch as a subject.  This decision was part of what led to extinction of German in our home.  We are trying to bring it back now and it is very difficult.  If I had to do it again I would not teach in English or not teach him at all. (we ended up putting him in public because he just wouldn't learn for me.)  Now, none of my children speak German except to say "Geh' weg" and "hoer' auf" my 2 year old says Gesundheit but that is not enough fluency in my book.  Fortunately they are still young enough to learn it (ages 2,4,6, and 8)  If I had the option here in rural Arizona I would enroll them all in a German school.  They will learn English no matter what because of all the friends, cousins, grandparents and media in English.

Good luck and e-mail me if you need resources for German curriculum or just want  more info and ideas.


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