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 : can’t make a good sauce without a good reduction, can’t wear white pants without spanx!
When you have this language foundation you ”feel it”, you have an instinct and children have this instinct naturally because they are not yet filled with useless information. They don’t analyze every word to try and literally translate every sentence. Not that I know how the brain works, but I imagine it’s something like that based on what one always hears about the advantages of learning a language as a child. And I see it in my son. He just knows!
It boggles the mind that there is not a single German language pre-school in Manhattan. Is it realistic to assume that school-age children and young adults will learn the German language in Sunday schools and once-a week classes? I don’t think so, and personnally,I don’t want my child to have more obligations and extra activities on the weekend.
I want a normal school and after-school schedule. I want Pusteblume!!!!!