Monday, June 29, 2009

Bilingual and glad

The other day we were at the library and my son asked another little boy a question (in English). The little boy stared back at him without responding. The boy's big sister came to his rescue - "He doesn't speak English yet. Just Spanish" But she obviously did. I asked her "But you speak English and Spanish?" She emphatically nodded with a great big smile on her face. She is obviously proud of her bilingualism.

Others may not feel so proud and willing to share their bilingualism.
In the past, many immigrants to this country tried to shed their foreign culture, accent and language and become "American." I have a friend who spoke 4 languages at home (2 Filipino dialects, English and French) up until starting kindergarten. When she was asked to speak to a teacher in Tagalog, she couldn't because that language wasn't spoken in her home. Her teacher took this as disobedience and her parents were called. The end result was that her family stopped speaking their native languages at home in an effort to improve her English and help her fit in. What a shame that they felt pressured to obscure their Filipino heritage.

Being bilingual (or multilingual) shouldn't be something to hide.

Being bilingual says something about who someone is - about where they come from and what they value.
If you try to hide this, you miss out on the whole person. The picture just isn't complete. The shame a child will feel due to hiding his family's heritage will surely turn him away from his roots and make him try to become someone he isn't.

Teach your kids that being bilingual is special.
Tell them about where the family comes from and how these languages came to be in your family. Make sure they understand why you've chosen to teach them two (or more) languages. Did you have relatives in another country? Did the family emigrate at one time? Did someone learn a language in school and decide to make it part of the home? These are fascinating topics for kids and help them see their place in the context of the larger world.

In conclusion
The good news is that my friend still speaks 3 of the 4 languages she grew up. She didn't lose out on that piece of her background. However, she was quite pained when discussing it with me. The little girl at the library shares none of this pain. Make sure your kids value knowing German just as much. The more they love it, the better they will do and the more likely they are to pass it on to the next generation.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How to involve a parent who doesn't speak German

You're having a dream: You're in a room with a bunch of people chattering away in a foreign tongue. They talk to you, make jokes, and are having a wonderful time. They smile and nod at you, and the volume in the room is growing ever louder. All the while, you are feeling more and more left out and baffled as to what they are saying.

Is this a scene from a Kafka novel? Nope - it's what some monolingual parents imagine when they think about their kids growing up speaking German with their bilingual spouses.

One of the most common reasons a family gives up on German as a second language is because one of the parent's doesn't speak it.
Reality usually isn't quite as harsh as our Kafka nightmare, but it can be an obstacle for families where one parent is bilingual and the other is not. The English-only parent (EOP) feels left out and excluded from family conversations, the bilingual parent (BP) is torn between wanting to provide as much German as possible without leaving her spouse out in the cold.

But bilingual family life doesn't have to be all confusion and exclusion for the parent who doesn't speak German. Take a look at these suggestions to help pave the way for linguistic harmony.

1. Create your family's language goals and objectives together.
Probably the most important step, when you discuss your goals regarding German together, it's much easier for the EOP to be supportive and feel involved.

2. Build family traditions together that transcend the language.
If you're consciously integrating German culture into your family activities, this is a great time for the EOP to be involved. You can all enjoy a Laternenzug on Martinstag or give Schultüten on the first day of school. These German traditions can be enjoyed by all and will create a sense of family unity which is not based on language ability.

3. Allow and encourage your children to do some mixing or "code-switching."
Some families like to be very strict about never mixing German and English in the same conversation or sentence. But most bilinguals are very comfortable switching back and forth depending on the context - perhaps your children wouldn't dream of calling a pretzel anything other than a "Bretze" and they do so even in an English sentence, or they throw in some German words when telling their EOP about the German DVD they watched. This is an easy way for the EOP to pick up a few German words and allow the kids to enjoy their ability to pick which language is right for a particular thought. This kind of linguistic play is lots of fun for bilinguals and you can encourage it in your family.

4. Offer the EOP some of our free Parenting auf Deutsch phrase guides.
He can then issue commands in German with confidence!

5. Make sure the EOP has quality time with the kids in his native English.
Encourage him to share songs with them in English, tell jokes, or read stories. They will be sure to treasure these times with him.

6. If you start when the children are small and you use a large amount of German at home, you may find that the EOP learns along with the kids.
Perhaps he gets to the point where he can understand most of a conversation and is able to then respond and participate in English. No more exclusion!

7. Suggest formal learning.
This takes the previous point one step further. If the EOP decides to study German himself, within a few years, he can be close to catching up with the kids. Podcasts like One Minute German and Rosetta Stone software make it possible to study German with a small investment of time daily. Formal study will also impress your children of the commitment the family has made to German - if Dad is taking the time to learn this, I guess it's pretty important!

Why is it important to speak German around an English-only parent (EOP)?
Of course you don't have to speak German even when the EOP is around - many families do just fine switching to English when necessary and back to German when everyone present can understand. However, sticking to German more often has it's advantages - the children will get more exposure which will ultimately lead to more advanced fluency. They may be more accepting of German as they hear more of it.

Be proactive - make sure there are no Kafka-esque scenes in your home.
A little preparation to involve your English-only spouse in the German aspects of your family will pay off - no metamorphosis required.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to calm a child with Attention by Reading

I was trying to get something done this morning and my two year old was doing everything in his power to be disruptive. He was grabbing books, throwing toys, singing at the top of his lungs and interrupting me every two seconds. Frustration was mounting. I was heating up. I finally decided enough was enough. This situation called for serious Attention by Reading.

He had a big basket full of German boardbooks on the floor. I sat him in my lap and we read. Book after book. He handed them to me one after another, often before I had even finished the one I was reading. As soon as he had my attention, he melted. All the frustrations were gone, leaving just a sweet chubby boy nestled in my lap. The Attention by Reading had done it's job.

What is Attention by Reading?

Attention by Reading is when you give your child your full and undivided attention through sharing a story. You let him pick the book, you let him decide when to move on, you let him set the pace. Disruptive behavior is usually a cry for attention and it usually gets negative attention. When you practice Attention by Reading, you replace the negative with the positive and everyone emerges rested and refreshed.

Why is Attention by Reading so powerful?
You've heard the complaints before. Kids these days are spoiled. They have way too many toys. They don't appreciate all their parents do for them. Yet in our busy lives, the one things kids don't have often enough is our full and undivided attention. In the hectic pace of day to day life, there's always another room to pick up, the race out the door to a soccer practice to race, a bill to be paid. Kids may have lots of things but they often don't receive quiet uninterrupted time with a parent to just be together. In the grand scheme of things, which is more important?

When you drop everything to read with a child, he sees that he is valuable to you.
He knows mom is busy and often rushing around. But if mom stops to be with him, it shows him that he is important to her, at least as important as all the other things on her to-do list. When you let him be in control by picking books and setting the pace, he feels capable and strong. Do your kids know they are as important to you as is serving dinner on time? This is one way to show them.

When you cuddle him in your lap or sit close on the couch, he is immediately calmed. His breathing will relax and he will snuggle in closer. His mind focuses on the story, the pictures, the sound of your voice. All other distractions in the room fade away. As he focuses, he is calmed and his energy is restored to a positive place. The frustrations that were so important to him (and you) a few minutes before are no more. All is well in the universe for a kid who's snuggled up sharing a book with a parent.

Attention is love!
Your child knows it. If you show him you know it, too, you will be greatly rewarded.

Reading with a child is a direct path to build a bond and reconnect with him.
Don't neglect this opportunity! It's free, it's fun, and it's guaranteed to improve the behavior around your house!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a two year old who needs some more attention. I'm off to find a book.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For job prospects, why not learn a more useful language, like Spanish?

Spanish is often considered the "practical" language for high school and college students. You can easily hear Spanish spoken in most public places these days. People think that since there aren't large visible pockets of German speakers in this country, that German is only good if you're going to travel to Europe.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Look at the numbers.
While there are significantly more Spanish speakers in the U.S. (28 million vs. 1.4 million) Source: Wikipedia, that means that it's that much harder to stand out if Spanish is your only foreign language. Someone learning Spanish will have to compete for jobs with exponentially more native Spanish speakers. In fact someone who's not fluent in Spanish probably has no chance of competing for a job requiring Spanish since there will, by sheer numbers, be so many more native Spanish speakers. You've lost before you've even started.

German speakers, being far fewer in number, have less competition and more opportunity to be noticed.
Think about it - do you want your child to be a small fish in a big (enormous, actually) pond or a bigger fish in a very small pond. Being bilingual in German and English will put your child into a very select group. While I'm not suggesting your children strive for mediocrity, an intermediate level of German may be worth more than advanced mastery of Spanish.

German helps you stand out
In today's tight job market, anything your child can do to stand out from the crowd will enhance his chances of landing a job. Being bilingual in German or even having a lower level of competency, will make him a bit more interesting to a hiring manager. So many people have some kind of connection to Europe and the German language - they spent some time in the military there, they have a German relative in the family, or they vacationed on the Rhein. It makes for a great ice-breaker and can help open doors for your job-hunting child.

Think that there are no opportunities to use German on the job?
Think again.

Let's look at some more numbers.
Germany has the third largest economy in the world and as of 2007 was the world's largest importer and exporter despite the strength of the Euro. German companies employ 700,000 people in the United States and American companies account for roughly the same number of jobs in Germany. German companies are spread throughout the world and being able to speak German will give your child a significant advantage with these companies.

World view not U.S. view
If you've spent time studying the language and German culture with your child, he will be able to better relate to colleagues who are not American. A common complaint in other countries is that Americans are insensitive to other cultures; hopefully growing up bilingual will help your child be aware of and avoid this American-centric attitude.

Studying German says that your child has put in extra effort and rejected the standard choice.
There is a common perception that learning German is harder (it's not necessarily) and therefore it may convey a higher level of status than Spanish. People may automatically think your child is smarter just because he's bilingual in German and English! Isn't it nice to get credit for things you're already doing?

German in the travel and hospitality industries
German companies generally give 6 or more weeks of vacation, plus holidays. It seems like my German friends are always on vacation! Germans put this vacation time to good use. The Goethe Institute reports that 3 out of 4 German vacations are taken abroad. You may already know this if you have been to a popular German tourist destination - Miami, New York, the Grand Canyon. German tourists are everywhere!

What this means is that all manner of businesses in the travel and hotel industries have a need for German speakers. Hotels, airlines, cruise ships, tourist destinations, und, und, und...

Science and Research
German is the second most commonly used scientific language and the third largest contributor to research and development. German will serve those in scientific fields very well.

Don't pick German just for the career opportunities.
When you choose German as your family's second language, there are so many other wonderful options that open up - travel, study of the culture, great literature. If you focus only on a future job prospect, you'll miss so much of the good stuff along the way. It's the study of the culture that makes the language truly come alive.

My personal path to study German was based exactly on this kind of objective analysis.
As I was preparing to enter college, my uncle pulled me aside and said a few words that would change the course of my life. "If you want to study business, you should study either German or Japanese as your foreign language." My uncle was a successful businessman and I took him very seriously. At the time I was too intimidated to attempt Japanese so German it was. And what a fateful choice! Nineteen years later I am making my living based on my knowledge of German. Who knew this one piece of advice would influence my life so greatly?

Where will German take your family?
Whether your children are small and just beginning to speak or you have teenagers preparing to leave the nest, it's never too soon or too late to carefully plan for the future. The choice of German for me was a pivotal one. Who knows where it will lead you and your children.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Do your kids think German is only for parents and old people?

Frankie is a minor celebrity in our house.
At age 11, Frankie seems to do everything my boys (ages 5 and 9) can only dream of. He plays baseball, is a boy scout, has a real pocket knife, and best of all, a pool in his very own backyard. Luckily for us, Frankie is a great kid and I'm glad to have my kids look up to him as a role model.

Role models and peers are really important for kids learning German.
Kids need to see that there are other kids who speak German, too. It's not just Papa's language or what we speak with Oma. If your German network is very small or far-flung, this can easily be the case. Without other kids who speak German to look up to and relate to, they may decide the language is not relevant to them. German will be, in their minds, a language of "old people", i.e. not cool.

You know where that will lead, don't you?

So instead of letting things go down that path, why not bring your very own peers and role models into our house using... German books.

When you read exciting, enchanting, or everyday stories auf Deutsch to your kids, they see that they are not the only ones who know German.
They will even think about these stories in German (they have to - that's how they know them and it's very hard to transfer these thoughts back to English). They will transfer these positive associations to the German language itself. They will accept these book worlds, where German is the norm, and understand that there are real places where German is commonplace. This may be a great revelation for some children!

What if my child attends a German school? Doesn't he have enough peers and role models who are bilngual?
If your child attends a German school, then you are one of the lucky few. This experience will make a huge difference in how he views German. But you still should confirm that the children actually use German to communicate among themselves. English is often still the norm outside of class when kids aren't yet fluent, and so you still need to create peers and role models. Regardless, kids can always benefit from a storybook character to whom they can relate.

In summary:
1. Watch out for the perception that German is just for parents and old people.
2. Look for role models and peers who speak German.
3. If necessary, find them in books.
4. Let the positive associations follow.

Frankie's example has pushed my kids to become a bit more adventurous. What would a few good role models do for your children's love of German?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Starting German is like trying brussels sprouts

No, really, it is! You don't believe me? Maybe by the end of the article you'll see what I mean.

My kids love brussels sprouts.
Truly, they do. They like them steamed and mushy with salt (weird, huh?) and they like them roasted and crispy. But they didn't always like brussels sprouts. In fact the first couple times I served brussels sprouts, I was met with several yucky expressions. "You want us to eat that?!?!" Yes, I do. They didn't believe me and they couldn't bare to try even one. Well, the baby tried one but he'll eat anything 'cause he doesn't know better.

So I told them a story about brussels sprouts.
It's an old family story involving a dragon, several poor villagers who were eaten by said dragon, and a young boy who convinces the dragon to eat brussels sprouts in place of villagers and saves the day. By the end of the story, my kids were a bit more interested but still not willing to try any. No matter, my husband and I (and the baby) enjoyed them and said no more.

I served them again a couple more times.
Each time, the kids wanted the story again. And each time the yucky expressions were a little less yucky and I could tell they were considering taking a bite. But no - not yet. My kids are extremely picky. My oldest son didn't try any new foods between the ages of 2 and 6. I am not exaggerating about this!

What does this have to do with German?
I promise, I'm getting to that part. Just bear with me.

So I just waited and kept serving brussels sprouts every now and then.
Then one glorious day, my middle son decided to try one. He pronounced it "all right." I was ecstatic! What a fabulous breakthrough. Through no pressure on my part, he had taken the step to put a vile sprout into his mouth and lived to tell about it.

After that, it was all downhill.
Pretty soon everyone was munching happily on sprouts (and asking for the story again). My middle son tells me they are his favorite food.

Starting German with some kids is a lot like trying brussels sprouts.
They may complain that they don't like it, it's too hard, or they don't understand anything. They may say it's stupid or why should they learn it anyway or none of their friends speak it.

Keep on "feeding" them.
Keep speaking German to them or reading them books or playing German CDs in the car, and pretty soon they will relax and understand a bit and all of a sudden they won't hate it any more. They may even start to think it's pretty cool.

Make it fun and interesting
My dragon story was a big help in bridging the gap toward making brussels sprouts less alien and a tiny bit interesting. You can try and make German fun and interesting for your kids. Tell them stories about when you learned German. Do you have any quirky German relatives? Ever made any embarrassing mistakes in German? They will love this stuff and it will make them motivated to hear and learn more.

Why do some kids need so much start-up time to become comfortable with German?
If German is brand new to your child or he has only been getting irregular doses, it will be hard for him. And when things are hard, we complain. It's just human nature. With any kind of new skill, the brain races to process all the information and struggles to keep up and make sense of it all. This is hard work.

But little by little, especially if you are speaking regularly, things will start to make sense.
Magically, it won't be so hard for him any more. He may even find that he likes listening to German or thinks it's cool that he can understand his cousin's letters from Germany. You may catch him humming a German tune when he thinks no one is listening. And it's all because his brain has caught up and now understands.

So the next time your child complains about German being hard, remember the brussels sprouts.
Just smile and keep offering the German that is so important to you. Let your child's brain catch up and don't be surprised when he asks for more.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How do you find the time to teach your kids German?

Busy moms, busy dads, busy kids.
Playdates, homework, piano lessons, story hour. Our lives are so full of activities and commitments, it seems like there's hardly any time left for German. But if you speak German yourself, even if you're not fluent, a tiny bit of planning can ensure you can easily make sure your kids get a nice dose of German immersion in their day.

Parents who have been speaking German with their kids for a while know the secret.
You don't teach them; you just carry on with life. You don't sit your kid down and say "Now it's time for German! What's the past tense of haben?" No - instead you say "Was willst du zum Frühstück essen?" If your kid gives you a blank stare, you hold up the eggs and the cereal and say "Eier oder lieber Cereal?" The kid will get the message and will either point or perhaps (joy of joys!) respond in German. If he answers in English you can choose to either just accept his answer or repeat it for him in German - "Sag 'Ich möchte Eier, bitte.'"

Just pick a time of day to start with - breakfast, car rides, dinner, bathtime - pick one time and try to speak only German at that time of day.
Your kids will quickly pick up vocabulary and get the jist of what you're saying. If you start out with short periods of time, they won't get tired and start complaining.
Your German times can be whenever you want.

Here are just a few guidelines:
1. You should speak only German if possible.
Plan for a time or activity that you are comfortable discussing in German. Perhaps brush up on some vocabulary beforehand.

2. Use gestures and facial expression to communicate meaning.
Try not to revert to English if your child doesn't understand you. Instead pantomime a bit or rephrase into simpler German if necessary to communicate your message.

3. Don't expect your child to respond in German.
This will come with time. Just focus on communicating to him in German.

4. Speak a little slower than usual.
New words can be difficult to pick up (especially the long ones) so you may need to slow down a bit and enun-ci-ate clearly.

5. If your child is cooperative, you can offer him words in German to repeat.
You may find that he uses them spontaneously later. This works best with kids from about 20-28 months when they are willing to repeat things.

6. If your kids are older, let them know you're going to have "German time."
Make it a fun time that they can look forward to.

7. Make it non-threatening.
Don't correct their mistakes. Don't insist that they speak German. Praise their efforts.

8. Don't worry if you make mistakes.
Just keep talking. It's good for kids to see that adults can make mistakes, too. Feel free to correct yourself if you realize you've made a mistake but don't make a big deal of it.

9. Remind yourself to do it every day.
This may seem obvious but how many times have you gotten through your day only to realize that there was something important you forgot to do! Hang up a little German flag in the kitchen if your German time is at breakfast or put a note on your bathroom mirror if it's at bathtime. Do something small that will help trigger your memory so you don't miss out. If you spend an hour speaking German every day, your child will have heard 365 hours of German by the end of the year! That's as much as several classes worth. It will add up quickly.

10. Keep track.
If you're just starting out, this step is critical. Establishing a habit like speaking German with your kids will take time. If you can do it every day for a month, even for just a half an hour, you'll have a better chance of maintaining and growing the habit. To help you build this habit, use my download (see below) and give yourselves a big green checkmark every day that you practice. Then when you've collected 20 or 30 checkmarks you can celebrate!

To help you get started and keep track, I've created a handy download.
Download Auf Deutsch, Bitte, fill it out and post it where you'll be sure to see it when you need it.

Once you get into the habit and add more and more immersion time, it will get easier and you will no longer need to keep track and it will be automatic. It may be tiring at first but it will get easier and easier.

The great thing with this method is that it works with kids of all ages and you don't have to do it all day long.

This method can have immediate results.
I tried this process with a little girl (28 months old) I was watching the other day. She had never heard a word of German but when my son brought me a book, she sat down with us to listen, so I decided to give it a shot. It was a very simple picture book with short sentences - the same kind of book she would like in English. As I read to the two of them, I pointed things out and asked them simple questions. "Wo ist der Ball?" "Da! Ja, Du hast ihn gefunden." "Da ist das Pferd." Very quickly, she picked up several words and easily repeated them and pointed to them in the book when prompted. We only spent about 10 minutes reading but I think that she understood a great deal of what I was saying. She did look at me a bit strangely at first but accepted that I talk a little funny.

Won't my child be confused if I start speaking German all of a sudden?
No! Children's brains are incredibly quick to adjust and they will try to make sense of what's going on. It's just like when your child was learning English as a baby and toddler - the progress can go amazingly fast. If you provide context through body language and facial expressions, plus following the guidelines above, your child will be very quick to pick up on the German.

This method mimics the total immersion your child would get if you traveled to Germany.
This is also the same process that babies and young children use to acquire their mother tongue. They listen to what is going on around them and try to make sense of it. By following the guidelines above, you can help them acquire conversational German without sitting down at a desk to learn it.

Try it yourself
So if you're wanting to pass German on to your kids and are wondering how to find the time, download Auf Deutsch, Bitte!. Try out this method and watch the immersion time start adding up. Viel Spaß!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The end of an era

A connection in cyberspace
She was an American who married a German, just like me. She was raising her kids to be bilingual, just like me. When I connected with Corey Heller over 4 years ago, it was like finding a kindred spirit, an instant friend. Even though we live on opposite coasts and have never met face to face, we found we had so much in common!

I was so excited when Corey launched Multiliving Magazine. It would be a magazine dedicated to the issues faced by bilingual (and multilingual) families. What I didn't expect was the extent of her dedication and the quality of work she would produce. Issue after issue poured forth in vibrant full color, with articles that gripped me, inspired me to keep up our German even when the going was tough. The issues contained up to 100 pages of interviews, crafts, recipes, and motivation - so critical for me as an isolated bilingual mom.

The end of an era
This week we learned that Multilingual Living Magazine is producing it's last issue. Corey had been creating this amazing work on a volunteer basis with a shoestring budget and only 1 other dedicated person. It's time for her to move on.

The magazine lives on
Although there will be no new issues, Corey is providing access to back issues of the magazine plus the last issue at minimal cost. If you are struggling with speaking German with your kids or are looking for some new inspiration, I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity. There are 19 back issues, over 1000 pages of material available to encourage, excite and inspire you.

If you're not convinced...
take a look at the table of contents from the last issue:
Trilingualism? Yes we can! - Find out how to raise your child with three languages!
4 Tips for parents of trilingual children - Make sure you are on track with this helpful guidance.
From 3 languages to 4 languages! Going from trilingualism to quadralingualism - yes it IS possible.
OPOL with a second child - when it just doesn't work out the same the second time around!
Bilingualism one step at at time - because raising bilingual children takes patience and time!
Frequently Asked Questions - your most pressing questions about multilingualism answered!
Growing up with Three Languages - An exclusive interview with the author, Dr. Xiao-lei Wang (and a review of her book)!

Our linguistic landscape - Two language experts show us how multilingualism is all around us.
I could spend all day exploring any one of these topics. This is great stuff, people!

Don't miss out
I'm not sure how long this option will be available so I recommend taking action right away. The 19 issues of Multilingual Living Magazine are online and downloadable immediately.

I didn't tell Corey I was going to post this - wouldn't it be great if we surprised her with a whole bunch of subscriptions? She has been truly selfless in her service to the multilingual community and she deserves recognition for this excellent work. I can't wait to see what project she has up her sleeve next!

How to subscribe
You can see the listing of back issues and their tables of contents here and subscribe here. You won't regret it!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Bobo Siebenschläfer is my friend (or Why Audio is so Important for your German Language Learning.)

"Hoopla, der Turm fällt zusammen. Bobo mag nicht mehr spielen". I have heard these words every night for the past 18 months, as my son listens to the Bobo Siebenschläfer CD while going to sleep. I can recite practically the entire CD from memory. And guess what? Repeatedly listening to this simple children's story, written for 2 year olds, has helped my German more than I ever expected.

How has this CD helped my German?
As a non-native speaker of German, my accent is pretty good. My vocabulary, on the other hand, needed work, especially when relating to children and daily life. College German classes don't teach you how to talk about playing with toys, getting dressed, and comforting a child. Bobo, however, does! Bobo takes a bath, goes to the zoo, gets sick, and plays in his backyard and I get to soak up all the words and phrases that accompany these activities. As I listen to this CD with my son, I pick up words and phrases I hear myself repeating the next day.

Repetition is key
It's not enough to listen just once. It's the repetition of hearing the CD many times that really cements the language and the pronunciation in my brain. And each time I listen, there's a new nuance, or a new word that catches my ear.

Why has this CD made such an impact?
This CD has been perfect for me because it's so relevant to my small children. It covers things we do every day. The native German speaker on the CD has a perfect accent for me to follow. Plus, the repetition over time has helped me to retain much of what I've heard. You could get a similar benefit from hearing another relevant audiobook repeatedly.

Isn't this giving too much importance to a simple story?
Well, the story is simple but since it lasts for 45 minutes and there is so much German language to listen to, that it's really a lot of material to cover. Most German children's stories are actually written at a level which is intermediate for adult learners. Language that is simple for a child is not always simple for an adult learner. When you add the value of the repetition and the native accent on the CD, it's a very useful activity.

Music isn't the same
This process won't work with music. Listening to music auf Deutsch does have lots of benefits but to acquire new vocabulary and improve your accent, stick with audiobooks.

Don't overdo it
I wouldn't suggest that anyone take this kind of CD and sit down and listen to it over and over again. It's best used as something in the background - something you listen to as part of another activity - driving in the car, putting a child to sleep, while making breakfast. As your hands stay busy, your mind can process the audio over time and absorb it. But don't think I'm suggesting it is a work to be studied intently!

Try it yourself.
Create your own regular listening routine. Try it every day for a week and see if you've picked up any useful phrases. Mine was accidental but yours can be purposeful. Soon you'll be able to say Bobo Siebenschläfer is your friend, too! Check out our selection of audiobooks and pick something you can play repeatedly and soak up.