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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello everyone!

We are a German couple living in Germany, and our daughter is 13 months old. About a month ago, I have started speaking English to her, because I hope that it will be a big help for her in learning both English and other foreign languages later on. My wife keeps talking German to her, and when talking to one another we use German as well. My wife doesn't feel as comfortable with English as I do -- I had been to the United States for a year as an exchange student back in 1988 --, and therefore sticks to our native language.

A good friend of mine pointed me to this site -- and I'm glad she did! --, and I have learned here that researchers claim that a child needs to be exposed to a language 30 % of their waking time to actively speak it (see step no. 3 of the ten steps). Since I work full-time, I can spend about two hours a day during the week (about 15 % of her waking time) and about 50 % of the week-end with her, so I'm not quite sure that this is enough for our daughter to actually learn (and speak!) English.

Do you have any recommendations as to what we could do in this situation? Should my wife speak English to her as well? Her pronunciation is quite good -- at least by German standards ;-) --, but her vocabulary is somewhat more limited than mine (and I have forgotten _a lot_, too), so getting things across might be a bit difficult.

What would be the best ways to increase our daughter's exposure to English? We'd appreciate any tips you might have!

Kind regards,
Reply with quote  #2 

Dear Matt,


I think the best way would be to get some interactive English DVDs such as Baby Enstein's Language Nursery or the BBc's Muzzy or simply your child's favourite cartoon in English. This way, when you are not home your wife can watch it with him, they both can get involved interactively in this language exercise and then eventually your wife will feel more comfortable talking English with him. Actually my husband is carrying out the same sort of exercise with my 13 months old baby. He knows italian but he doesn't feel very confident speaking it. When I am not around, he watches some of my son's favourite cartoon in Italian and also turns on the subtitles so he doesn't miss any phrase. This helps him to comunicate and talk about the story in Italian with my son.


Hope this will help you a bit!


Best Regards


Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Matt,

Congrats — speaking a non-native language to your child is tough, so god for you! You are doing great, and indeed adding some more English exposure is a great idea. If your wife isn’t comfortable speaking English there are still many things you can do to add more of the minority language. The one thing your wife may be comfortable doing is reading English books — so start stacking up on them!

Here is an article with tips on how to add more language exposure.

Best of luck,
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Christina Bosemark
Founder & List Moderator
Multilingual Children’s Association

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