During the Olympics, we cheered for Team GB and Team Germany. During the Euro2012, we were praying that England and Germany wouldn’t end up playing against each other. Whenever the UK and Germany meet, we make sure that we support both teams in equal measures and that doesn’t only count for sporting events. We do the same for the Eurovision Song Contest, yes I admit to watching it, and any other big international event. People usually understand, because they know that we are a English/German household.
What seems to puzzle people is the fact that Amy is growing up with two languages. Why are you raising your child bilingually is a question that we are often asked. Why don’t you let her learn one language first and teach her the other one once she has mastered her first language? People, especially British people, seem confused by the fact that we are teaching Amy any other language than English. Only a few of them see the benefits that we are seeing: the fact that Amy will be able to speak to both her English and her German family, that growing up with two languages will make it easier for her to pick up a third or a fourth language when she starts school and that she will be able to get a better feeling for the cultural differences of the world.
Amy understands both languages equally well. She can follow instructions and knows exactly what either Ben and I are talking about – no matter, if Ben is speaking English with her or I am speaking German. She just doesn’t speak herself yet and this is where people think that we are doing something wrong. Because other children of her age, Amy is 18 months, can say cat, dog, banana or whatever, they expect Amy to do the same. Fact is though that children reach their developmental milestones at different points and it is thought that children who grow up bilingually might need more time to process the different language set-ups and vocabularies. So for now we are not worrying about Amy’s lack of speech, but embrace the fact that being bilingual will open many doors for Amy once she is ready to unlock them.
Are you raising your child bilingually? Which languages do you speak at home and have you encountered any problems raising your children in two languages? If you aren’t a bilingual household, which language do you wish you had grown up speaking?
– Day 3 –