Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Toddler Language Awareness

I basically assume that ML (2) doesn't make much distinction between German and English since he mixes freely right now - he'll say "You're krank" and "I go draussen". Pretty common stuff for a bilingual this age. Of course I address him in German, even when we're out in public and we've gotten some funny looks lately from the kids in NJ's karate class. So it was a lot of fun when Emma, who is 8, asked for me to tell her some phrases in German. She then repeated them to ML - "Setz dich hin", "Komm her", "Werf den Ball." He was delighted! He thought it was hysterical. So I guess he really does know the difference since he didn't expect Emma to be speaking German to him.

Proud of the Language

Since Opa has returned to Germany, we've been experiencing an interesting development from NJ's (6) language skills and interest level. He is now very aware of the fact that speaking German is a valued skill and he wants to tell everyone about it! He addresses complete strangers in the library and at the store in German! And he's even using the formal to do it! Verstehen Sie Deutsch?, he'll say. And the people will look at him because they think they just misunderstood him. He'll repeat himself in German and then I'll explain for him. It's quite bizarre. :) And he's fond of disciplining his little brother in German. Hmm, I wonder where he got that idea. Perhaps I need to use a little more English when telling someone to stop doing something.

His vocabulary is still quite lacking but he's comfortable using the words he knows - pretty cool!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Unsere Woche mit Opa

Thanks for everyone who wished us well for Opa's visit. I'll write more about it later but suffice it to say that we had a great time. We of course spoke lots of German, including my older son, 6, who made a true effort and seemed to enjoy using his skills. He's got a lot of work to do in terms of increasing his vocabulary but he can make himself understood and he had no problem goofing off with Opa!

I think the week was also useful from my father-in-law's perspective because having only heard second-hand about the challenges we've been facing with NJ's sensory integration dysfunction, I think he and my mother-in-law were under the impression that a little more strict parenting would remedy the picky eating and other troublesome behaviors. Now, having seen it up close, Günter could tell that NJ isn't a bad kid and that his problems are not simply due to too much time in front of the TV or too much junk food. I think that he, too, will be a little less judgmental. Plus, he could hardly fault NJ for being picky since he choose not to eat about 90% of what we ate! It's all relative, isn't it? :)

Luckily, he didn't mind cooking for himself which was fortunate since I am not talented in the cooking department and am no Lilo Mueller. She had the menu planned out for his return and I'm sure he's enjoyed being back home again.

We do miss him and it was fun to have him around for a short visit.

Multicultural Living Magazine

The latest newsletter from the Bilingual / Bicultural Family Network is out and has many great articles on multi-culturalism and bilingual kids. Check it out!

Bilingual Families Connect

Tips and advice for bilingual families.

Monday, May 08, 2006

In Praise of Libraries

So I snuck out tonight early after our little guy was in bed, leaving my husband and Opa for some quality time. Where do I go on my cherished time alone? The public library, of course! I was wandering around with my large empty bookbag, kind of enjoying all the possibilities on all the rows of shelves, when a librarian asked if I needed any help. Not being one to hide my emotions, I blurted out, "No, I'm just enjoying this - it's all so wonderful!!" Thankfully she didn't laugh at me, but instead we got to talking and apparently she shares my love for libraries, even going so far as to check them out when she's on vacation.

Did you know your local library can get just about any English book in print for you and it's basically free?! They will even go to museums and universities if necessary to find what you're looking for. All you have to do is ask. With our homeschooling, I'm constantly, almost obsessively on the look-out for great books for the kids and this may help cut down on my book budget. Of course it is much harder to get German books, although many libraries do have German collections.

So the next time you go to the library, chat with the librarian. You won't regret it!

Pretend I'm a Farbe...

ML (2) is in a stage of much language mixing. His latest gem: "Pretend I'm a Farbe. I'm grün!" How can you not love this?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

My kids never cease to amaze me

As I posted a couple days ago, we are currently enjoying a visit from Opa, our first in several years and it's the children's first true German immersion experience. I wasn't surprised to see ML (age 2) interacting with Opa in German since he tends to do that with everyone, whether or not they understand him. But NJ (6) has completely floored me! He is quite consciously aware of the need to speak German with Opa and is successfully doing so most of the time! I can see him searching for words he wants to use and picking up new ones throughout the day. My father-in-law is gently teaching him new words and has been wonderfully patient with NJ's attempts to communicate. I had expected NJ to be a bit shy about speaking in German but so far, this hasn't been the case. Interestingly enough, he can't really translate back and forth, even when I know he knows the word in both languages. Perhaps that's the difference between someone who learns the language formally in a classroom setting, like me, or someone who picks it up along the way, the way NJ has done.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Der Opa kommt!

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our Opa from Germany! He's on an airplane as we speak. All week long the kids have been talking about what we'll do with him. We were having breakfast this morning which we usually do in English so we can sneak in a little schoolwork which is mostly discussed in English. Niklas said "C'mon guys, let's speak German!" Love that enthusiasm! My mom is looking forward to using her newly minted German knowledge with Guenter as well.

Ein schönes Wochenende!