Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trying to raise a bilingual kid

One thing I've been doing a lot of recently is re-learning German.  It's been fifteen years since I've studied it properly, and I really want to raise Hannah to be bilingual from birth.  I've read lots of research on how growing up bilingual gives kids a huge head start in brain development, etc., so I've been kind of immersing myself in German for the past few weeks.  The more I do it, the more I remember - words come back to me that I had forgotten I even knew in the first place. And I looked up the phrases I use the most with her (such as "my, what a dirty diaper you have, little lady!") so that I can speak at least 10% auf Deutsch to her now, and that will only continue to grow as I learn more.  I figure that by the time she's really speaking, if I do this right, she'll be pretty much bilingual.

I am using the DuoLingo app each day, and have bought German children's books to read to her, which will also be good for me, but a few other things that are helping in the "immersion" goal are:

The Slow German podcast at - a podcast of German information and news read very slowly so that non-natives can easily follow it.  This is great!

I also found, which streams German comedies, full episodes, for free.  This serves multiple purposes.  First, since I'm feeling old and tired and sore, and eating lactation cookies and drinking fenugreek tea (I'd never heard the word fenugreek three months ago - now I'm obsessed with it), laughing at German comedies I can't understand is awesome.  And of course, it's helping me learn the language.  But the laughing at weird German stuff I can't understand is really the highlight right now.

In addition to the fact that growing up bilingual will help her brain development, and make it easier for her to learn new skills as she gets older, I just plain like the idea of having a second language that I can speak with Hannah, kind of like our secret language.  Not too many people in Southern California speak German, so we can have secret conversations, and I can't think of very much that's more awesome than having mother/daughter secret conversations.

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