Apparently I use goofy old sayings a lot. I know this because my son is contemplating the logistics and technicalities of what comes out of my mouth. The other day, I told him: “Du hast wohl die Pfanne heiss!!” In my defense it must have been after he tried to weasel yet another something sweet from the cabinet. He looked at me in that very inquisitive way and asked:” Mama, wo ist denn die Pfanne eigentlich bei den Leuten?” It was hysterical! After I tried to explain – let’s face it, it really is a doozy – my almost 5 year old declares very matter of factly: “Das macht aber ueberhaupt keinen Sinn!” And right you are, you brilliant little creature, it is very non-sensical (now that I am writing this, I keep thinking of the anti-drug commercial…..hot pan, eggs, brain on drugs like egg in pan)…..ANYWAY, I was thrilled, that my son “is up” on these wacky, funny sayings. I know, I know funny is not exactly the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking of the German language. But yes, we can do funny. The French have romantic, the Italians have sexy….please let us have funny. Just for today. This was funny, and it is so cool to see how he is acquiring these things and trying to to work them out for himself. I can’t wait to see if he is going to translate it for my husband and how that will work his little puzzler. Lost in translation??! Uh, maybe this will make my husband want to learn my native tongue…, to share in that wacky sense of German humor that apparently I am now introducing to our son. Yes, that’s how I will get him into it. German humor. You know how dry […]
When I was writing about the immersion last time I realized that the early immersion is really what is so important. Early is easier, so very much easier…just ask my darling husband. He should be speaking German by now. He hears my son and me speak, he watches the Journal on Deutsche Welle with me (wait a minute, is he not listening..?????) The man does not speak German. We have known each other for almost 10 years. Not a lick. OK, he can butcher “ich liebe dich” when he needs to and I think “Prost!” is proudly embedded in his vocabulary, but aside from that there is not much German sticking to his Cuban brain. How can that be? I try and teach him, translate and buy him books. Sadly, my efforts are not bearing any fruit. OK, so I am not heartbroken over this. Being able to talk about him undetectably does have it’s advantages. However, we are not the only couple that I know in this situation. And may I just point out that I DO, in fact, speak some Spanish and CAN communicate with my mother-in-law. Thank you very much! She has been in this country for 40 years and her English is very limited (which makes her love for “Wheel of Fortune” all the more puzzling). Anyway, what gives??? Why are the “immersed” adults not as successful in their efforts to acquire an additional language?
Nutshell: With EARLY immersion comes a foundation that is almost impossible to achieve later. It will never be as easy to learn a language as it is in childhood. When you learn a language as a young child you get a foundation that is invaluable. Grundlage, foundation, we all know how necessary it is […]
So, I speak German to my son. Everyday! All day! We did not get into public pre-k and in hind sight it was a blessing. He is home with me and immersed in all things German. He speaks very well, but what really amazes me is how elegant and fluent his English is. By all accounts it should really be his second language, but living in the United States we are, of course, immersed in English. He hears it as soon as we step out of the house, in every class he takes, on the playground. Effortlessly he switches back and forth between German and English but I realize that the day he is going to Kindergarten things might shift a little. He will speak English for most of his day. Will he still want to speak German with me?”Mama, sprichst Du eigentlich auch Englisch?”, he sometimes asks me? I deny, but naturally the jigg is up once we leave the house .
Sure, we have some German speaking friends and the kids do play in German when we get together, but you all know how hard it is to arrange playdates……ugh! Here is my sugarplum vision: bringing my son to Pusteblume afterschool activities where he can play, learn and be inspired with his German speaking peers. A place were he can be immersed in the language by someone other than me and with other children….secretly I am hoping that it will make me cool again- instantly and eternally!!!
We are going to document our efforts, inform our parents and aim to inspire our community to get involved. Are you ready? We are so ready!!! This is the time! From the website you know What, Who and Why, and I tell you , NOW is the time because the response I get to the “Why” is a different one these days.
When I talk about our project now, I am not asked :”Well, why ….?” instead the comment I get is: “That’s great!” And it comes from Americans of all language backgrounds and German language speakers alike. Virtually every language represented in this great melting pot has a pre-school except for us.
I get it, we live in America, English is cool, you have to blend in. I totally understand. I am all for embracing the American Way when you choose this country as your place of residence, as your home. I embrace (love PB and J, something that I constanly have to explain, no:defend, to my sister), I blend, I am big on blending: when I need another mother to know that I am correcting my sons behavior towards her child I do it in English. But when he aggravates me and only me it is: “Jetzt is aber Schluss!!!” (yes, 3 exclamation marks, you better believe it). I live in America, but I always knew that I wanted my son to speak, read and write German. I want to read him “Der Kleine Wassermann”, I want him to understand “Die Sendung mit der Maus” und “Die Augsburger Puppenkiste” (well, the ones that have been updated and are pc). But most importantly I want him to be able to communicate effortlessly with my parents. He […]