We encourage you to talk back! Expert advice is nice, but we all love to hear what other parents are doing. So, don’t just ask questions but share your own experience, thoughts, ideas, tips and examples.

 |  Latest Topics

  Author   Comment  
chris martin
  Reply with quote  #1 
I´m happy I found your forum.
Maybe you can help me.
I live in Germany with my husband and my 4 yr old son.
I learned English in England.
My husband speaks only German. I speak English to my son ,but German if my husband,inlaws and my parents are arround.
We go to an English playgroup once a week.
My son understands English .If I ask him to do this or that he does it or complains,but only in German.
I get annoyed looks in playgroup,or sometimes get asked when he starts to speak English.
I´d go for OPOL but my husband does´nt likes it,as he feels cast out.
(Though he does´nt say anything,if I say a few words to my son or read a book in English.)
We watch mainly english DVD´s and read mainly English books.
He cooses English books and DVD´s knowing it´s in English.
He knows I´m not English and since half a year he sometimes askes me why I speak English to him.Sometimes he even askes me not to speak English to him. 
Though he starts to mix a few words(Engl.Germ.)
Will he come round eventually and speak English?
He´s got a little friend who´s English German but his mother(English) prefers us to speak German to her son.
My in laws + my parents are not happy about me speaking a second language,though only my mother makes comments like ´Do you have to speak English again`-
Anything I can do to encourage him.
  Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Chris,
I also afraid question from my son why I speak English  to him although I’m not Englishman. I haven’t any idea what I should tell him. What did you answer on this kind of question.?

chris martin
  Reply with quote  #3 
Well I told him that I always spoke English to him and won´t stop no matter what.
I also tell him it´s good and important to speak two languages.
+ that it´s much more difficult to learn it in school,as you have to sit and learn ,while he now learns it the practical way,by doing things.
Though ´m a bit worried how he will react in English lessons.
Will he speak ,or will it be boring?
I told him that I learned English in school but had to relearn it in England as my English in school was too different and I was afraid to speak.
 I think He does know what I mean ,sometimes I think he´s simply too shy to speak engl. 
Told him it´s a gift to speak two languages,that I can understand people ,other people can´t understand.
Like a secret language we have together,his gran or other people won´t understand.
Hope that helps you a bit
  Reply with quote  #4 
Hi, I think the real problem here is not your son.
It’s other people’s attitudes about you speaking English to him, which your son has picked up. If your husband and others embraced you speaking English to him, and encouraged him, then I think you would see a difference. However it may take some time to see some changes, I think you’ll need to be persistent. But the fact you are trying and haven’t given up totally shows that you want to and have some tenacity.I would ignore his dirty looks and comments and additionally, find an English speaking friend yourself who will speak English with you ,and have fun and laugh and let him see that; even better if this person has a child. I know you posted a while ago. I’m new to this site. What is happening now?
  Reply with quote  #5 
Regarding Chris Martin’s thought about encouraging him to see English as maybe a “secret language”, I totally disagree with you.
Children, and people learn a language for the purpose of communicating and by making a language a “secret” you are perhaps introducing an attitude of exclusivity; which I think should not be encouraged. Why do we learn other languages? Mostly to communicate with other people. It’s no different for children. People need to be exposed to other’s speaking of a language, as different people use diffferent words and have different topics of conversation; which results in different words learnt, not to mention the value of cultural exchange. Additionally, your son may start to say things “in secret” which may not be polite or something he would not say if he knew others could understand. Especially with English, such a widely spread language, you don’t know who sitting next to you on the bus can understand it!
Chris Martin
  Reply with quote  #6 
Yes you are right. It was not the best idea to say it could be a secret language for us.
It´s not easy to find someone English speaking+child in my area.
drive 20 min to playgroup.
They mainly keep to themselves.
Though I should be very happy as next to my in law`s an Englishwoman+ her husband and son moved it.
My son is the boy´s best friend.
The only problem is, until her son met my son he spoke no German.
His Mum asked us, or better my mother in law, to speak german with him,so he´ll learn a bit til he joins the nursery.
He ´s in nursery now and his German improved.
It´s a strange situation if I visit her with my son.
She speaks English with her son but German to my son.
I speak english to my son but German to her son.
Sometimes I speak to her son in English.
I thought this is realy strange. I thought about asking her to speak english to my son but I did´nt dared.
Apart from this, in summer my mother in law is always arround and she would´nt understand what they say.What would you do?
  Reply with quote  #7 
Hi Chris,
well first of all I think we need to be patient. If, for example, it is your goal for your boy to speak English by age 7, then half a year of settling into a language routine is not much time in this aspect.
Other people’s language systems can be strange and if it’s not comfortable for you and it’s not working then don’t worry about pressing the situation.
I think your biggest need at the moment is to find some English speaking friends. People who are like-minded. And most of all, people whom you would be friends with even if they didn’t speak English. The friendships have to be natural and these positive attitudes will pass down to your son.Unfortunately this could take time but good lasting and fruitful friendships will be worth it in the end even if they take a year to make.
Problems with your son asking you “why are speaking English” and refusal to speak English are more discipline subjects than linguistic subjects! This is my view. I am not saying you have a naughty boy! I am saying that you have a toddler and toddlers like to push boundaries and do everything their way. And ways of speaking come into this too. Perhaps you could deal with this in the same way you have dealt with your boy in getting him to eat vegetables, put toys away; that sort of thing.
Regarding the parents and in-laws. I think once your boy starts being billingual (which he already is!), they will be very proud of him! One day he will gladly explain to them himself why he speaks English with mummy (and then they will like it!). They probably just don’t understand the benefits of speaking to him in English. I’m sure you’ve already tried to explain and they still don’t get it. Easier said than done, but don’t let it worry you! Ignore their remarks the same way you probably have to ignore remarks from parents and in-laws about cooking etc.
Keep in mind you are doing this for your boy. You are doing something loving, fun, and investing for your child. Don’t let others’ remarks put you down, remain firm, and do it for your boy!
Be encouraged! My boy is mixing his languages too. That’s normal. It’s great your boy is watching English Dvd’s and reading books! These really are big steps along in his development.
Most of all, to encourage your boy, you have to be encouraged yourself.
Good luck.
chris martin
  Reply with quote  #8 
Thank you so much.
I got doubts from time to time,but thankfully there are some people who give me hope .
My best friend also grew up bilingual,and thinks the same as I.

Sometimes my son is  proud that he knows what this or that means.
Well I send him in his room if he does´nt do what I say,but I never did if he spoke German instead of english.I did´nt wanted to punish him for it.

I don´t give him many sweets but sometimes do a winning game like showing him flashcards or do a memory wich is bilingual,so daddy can read the german and english words and give him a winner treat if he´s been good
  Reply with quote  #9 
Hi Chris,
It’s been about a year since you posted, but I’m new to this site, LOVE it, and also wanted to encourage you to keep up the hard and good work you’re doing with and for your son. I’m curious how the last year has turned out, would love to hear the progress if you want to share.
I just had our first daughter 4 months ago and I’ve been speaking German with her since our first moment together. Though it was awkward at first, it feels completely normal now (though a bit strange when I am worried or sad that she’s so upset and want to express that too her). I learned German in college and lived for nearly 2 years in Munich. I have been teaching German for 5 years, as well. But learning Babysprache has been a challenge, but one that I also love, as well. I find it really helps for me to write down the things that I want to know so I can ask native speakers when I get the chance.
And while it’s on my mind, can you recommend any German stories that are really worth reading, and that I should add to my library? We have stories in English that we all know as kids, like The Little House and Fox in Sox, etc. I am working on building up a home library in German and would love some title suggestions. Maybe I’ll create a post on that…
Anyhow, I hope it’s going well for you! Great job!

Previous Topic | Next Topic

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.