Want your kids to speak more than one language? Try this!

Language is something most people don’t think about. It is easy to slip into the habit of speaking only one at home.

When my son was born, we decided to raise him in more than one language: English and German. I always wanted for him to talk to his grandparents in German. He needed to get more than just a taste of the culture and the things that I grew up with. At least, I don’t want him to miss out on all these things just because we decided to move to the US.

From the moment I realized I was pregnant, I started reading my son stories in my mother language. I talked to him in German whenever I could (which is not easy because everybody around me speaks English). But one thing I have learned is to be consistent. I do have to admit, this was not easy for me. My husband speaks mostly English (with a little bit of German) and no one else around us speaks any German at all. It is easy to let your mother language “die”, so to speak.

To keep your language alive, you need to stick with it, no matter what. I admit, I slacked off from time to time but always came back to speaking German with him. Now my little boy is turning 5 soon and he understands German without thinking twice. When he turned 3 he started to use more and more words in German instead of English and even translated some words for his Papa; I was so proud of him.

Here are some pointers that helped us not to lose the minority language.

 

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  1. Consistency

I cannot mention it often enough, you have to stay on task. We live in the US, which means the main language spoken is English. If you want your kids to grow up speaking more than one language, you have to stick to the minority language no matter what. It was especially hard for me when I left the house. All around me I heard English, so I was automatically more tempted to speak English. Especially in the park when you talk to other people. Mistakes happen, but like everything else it will get easier, as long as you always go back to consistently speaking your mother language it won’t matter.

  1. Books, Books, Books

We made it our nightly routine to read German stories and he loves it. Every now and then, Grandma sends us some books from Germany. You also can buy some books on Amazon or other websites, or you just buy some on your next visit to Germany. (one of our favorites books “Der Wolf und die sieben Geisslein”)

 

  1. Audio CD

We like to keep screen time limited, so I thought I would get some German audio CDs and a CD player in my son’s room. He loves to turn on the CD player when he is playing in his room or sometimes during naps. A great way to get more of that second language exposure.

  1. TV

Try to find your child’s favorite show in the language you would like him to improve in. We love to use YouTube. They have lots of German speaking shows and movies for kids.

  1. Preschool

Now that my son is turning five, I decided to get some German preschool work books for him to work on the basic skills a preschooler should know. Another thing we are going to do is to introduce him to German daycare for some time at our next visit to Germany.

I hope I have been able to give you some ideas on how to raise your kids in more than one language. I would love to hear your ideas and about the things you are doing to keep your language alive.

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One thought on “Want your kids to speak more than one language? Try this!

  1. These are fun ideas! I am working on my own Spanish at this time, and when I have a child, the goal and plan is for them to be bilingual. I will keep these ideas close by!

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