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.


Helen said...

I've made the commitment to always address my daughter in German. When she first started to speak, she spoke German. As she heard more English around her, her dominant language has become English. At 5.5 years old, I still only address her in German. When my husband doesn't understand what we're saying, he'll ask her to translate. She does. Since my girl hasn't had any formal language instruction, the translating must be due to something else.

Sarah Mueller said...

Hmm, yes, maybe it's just because he's not yet completely comfortable in German and can't pull up the equivalent word easily. I have heard that some people find translating very easy and natural and others are quite challenged by it.

Jeanne said...

I learned German as an adult in college. After several years of studying I visited Germany with a non-German speaking friend. When I had to get information in German, I knew what had been said but could not translate it for my friend. The following year I stayed in Germany for a month and by then could translate easily. I don't know exactly why! :)