Many of you already know, I was born and raised in Germany and moved to the US when I was 25 years old. I live here for 9 years now and enjoy living here, but my roots and my home is still Germany. My whole family is still back in Germany. When my husband and I go back to visit them, it’s a little tricky, since my husband barely speaks German and my family barely speaks English. But somehow they manage to communicate and get a long very well!
I knew even before I got pregnant, that I would raise my child bilingual. Mainly because I want my child to know more about my cultural heritage but also to be able to communicate with my family. I always believed a 2nd language is a great gift! It will never hurt to know more languages and it may actually open up doors later on in life.
My dad is actually from Italy, but he never taught us Italian, which is too bad. I wish I would have learned a second language.
So, I began to search for information on raising bilingual children:
Which method is best? There are many different methods of raising a bilingual child.
- A very popular method is known as “One Parent, One Language” in which one parent speaks exclusively to the child in the minority language, while the other uses only the local or majority language.
- Another popular method is “minority language at home” — usingthe minority language exclusively within the family with the idea that the child will learn the majority language by living in the country.
My husband doesn’t speak German, so we decided to go with the popular “One Parent, One Language”. I think, it will be easy for me to speak German to our little girl at home. But I can see it will be challenging when other people are around. I usually don’t like speaking German in front of people who don’t understand the language. I feel this is rude and excludes them from the conversation. So, I guess we have to modify the “One Parent, One Language” method a little bit.
I’m also planning on doing the following to support bilingual parenting
I know it’s the right thing to do, but I do have some concerns:
- Would learning two languages simultaneously be too difficult or “confusing”?
- Would peers see them as “different” and tease them?
- And would they perhaps refuse to speak German to me when they were older in an effort to conform with peers?
I’m trying not to stress about this too much right now and just see how it goes. I know the most important part is to be consistent and not to give up when it gets tough. She might not like it at all times, but once she is older she will be happy to speak two languages.
So for now, the one parent one language rule is a good rule of thumb, a good foundation and starting point, but we’ll soon learn what works for us in our own unqiue family setting.
Have you raised a child bilingual?
Or did you grow up bilingual?
Any advice is much appreciated!