AK

Bringing up bilingual babies

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Meet AK, new Kiddicare blogger, mum to toddler Finn and pregnant with her second baby. AK’s household is a bilingual one. She explains…

I remember arriving in the UK in 2005 to start my new Nanny Job. I was amazed by the nearly 4-year-old girl talking German with her dad and me and then switching over to fluent English with her mum, in a matter of minutes.

Is it even possible to teach a child 2 different languages at the same time, and for them to understand the difference?

Well, here I am 8 years later – having a 3-year-old Son myself and teaching him my mother language.

I am talking German to him at home and when we are out and about. His response is mainly in English, although with some German words muddled into the sentence.

I have some bilingual speaking toys for him to play with and for, his bedtime story, we read German books together. I have also started to collect DVDs & music CDs for when he gets older.

We have a few German friends with similar age children, who we have frequent play dates with. But visiting Family and Friends can be quite testing, at times, because I find myself in the situation where I say something to him in German and then have to translate for them to understand, so they don’t feel left out.

Then there is Mr. C. who has got a talent in picking up different languages very quickly but is struggling with learning to speak German, although can understand a fair bit. He always tells me he finds German quite a hard language to get to grips with.

My vague attempts in teaching him some German before our son came along were anything from post it notes all over our home (for him to learn the basic words like fridge, key, living room, kitchen, etc….) to buying him ‘Learning German in 3 simple Steps’ for his iPod, as well as some of the Usbourne Books for children, which are full of pictures to learn certain words.

Since we arrived back from our annual German Summer Holiday, visiting Oma & Opa, Mr. C. has started a new game where he asks Finn the German meaning of an English word i.e. Spoon = Löffel or Tree = Baum and so on.

This is a fun way for Finn to practice his German whilst at the same time teaching Mr. C.

Because we live in England this will always be his first language. But I am glad that I could teach him German for the last 3 years and I will continue to share my native tongue with him and our new arrival – due in February – because I think being brought up bilingual is a great gift to share with my children!

Children learn best when they’re having fun so check out our fab range of educational toys. We also have some great baby books and musical CDs to help your little one develop.

4 Comments

  1. It was nice reading this article and seeing other mums in a similar situation. Just 3 weeks to go before my first born is here, but I plan to speak to him only in my maternal language (Spanish) and then he can pick up English when out and about and when talking to daddy.

    Are there any books you recommend to help with raising children bilingual?

    Thanks! xx

    Lorena_F
    Reply
  2. Thanks Lorena! We’ve asked AK about the books and she’ll respond shortly. Best Vicky

    Kiddicare
    Reply
  3. AK can’t get to her laptop so she asked me to forward this:

    Hello Lorena
    I personally haven’t used a book but I heard that the “7 Steps To Raising A Bilingual Child” from Naomi Steiner MD
    Is a very informative read. Good luck for the birth. AK

    Kiddicare
    Reply
  4. I was brought up bilingual (English/French), and you really don’t need to worry about the child not understanding which language is which etc. Sure, we did have a tendency to simply use the easiest word in some instances no matter what language we were meant to be using (why would you say yellow when you could say jaune?), but we never really had any trouble making ourselves understood.

    Within three months of starting school, our English was as good as any of our classmates, and when it came to GCSE French we breezed through with no effort at all. It was very handy and I now use both my languages (and more I learnt later on) as part of my job. I’m thankful to my mother for the head start though!

    A-M
    Reply

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