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Preschool Readiness & Foreign Language Immersion -- HELP!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
DC is starting Preschool in a week. She's only going 2 hours - 2 days/week in July but I hope she'll move up to 4.5 hours/5 days by September because I'm starting school.

I'm looking for tips on helping ease this transition for her. I need some general preschool readiness tips and etc.

Also, (I don't know if this should be another thread but...) she only speaks English and she's going to a German speaking pre-school. I keep being told that "She'll be fine" and I know that but I'm still nervous and am starting to worry that maybe this will really compound the transition for her.

Advice, shared experience, commiseration, hugs needed. Thanks, Hannah
post #2 of 11
I think that she is young enough to pick it up very quickly althought it may be a little strange to her. My sister went to a daycare(in germany) where most of the staff spoke german. She spoke alot. Kids of a young age have a natural gift for language. Only a week in puertorico and DD started saying many words in spanish. It's our job to worry but I think she'll be fine.

post #3 of 11
My dad (at age 12) and his entire family arrived in the US from Europe (Neth)without speaking a word of English. This was in the 40's and the schools had no tools in place to make immersion easier. He was placed in a kindergarden or 1st grade class (he should have been in what? 6th grade?) and he immediately picked up English as did the entire family one way or another.

Long story but I think it applies. Kids can communicate on so many levels I believe your dc will pick up German immediately (and subliminally) without much confusion or trauma on anyone's part. Also, can you meet privately with the teacher to find out if he/she speaks English? He/she might subtly assist your dc with the language transition.
post #4 of 11
As an elementary ESL teacher and university-trained linguist (in second language acquisition), it is wonderful that your daughter is going to a German-speaking preschool. She will soak up the language so quickly and the little neurons in her brain will connect so much faster, thereby giving her more skills and abilities to learn additional languages easier, become more creative, etc, etc.

I am an American, living in the Netherlands. My ds, who is almost 1 year old, hears only English at home with me, Dutch at the babysitter's house and Dutch when his father visits. I am very anxious and curious to find out what his first word is going to be, in which language!

Additionally, I think you will find that you are far more anxious about the situation than your daughter is. You will really need to try to "control" that because she will feed off of it. She should not have any problem AT ALL to adjusting to a German speaking school. She will probably have more of a problem adjusting to just being in school than anything else.

Here are a couple of great resources for you..the more you educate yourself about bilingualism, the less anxious you will be:

"The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents" by Edith Harding and Philip Riley, published by Cambridge University Press


http://www.multilingual-matters.com/ They have a great newsletter, "The Bilingual Family Newsletter"

You are giving your child a wonderful gift. Good luck!
post #5 of 11
Moving this to Learning at School...
post #6 of 11
HI Hannah, You don't say how old your daughter is, 3 or 4 I am guessing. My ds had a non-English speaking child in his Montessori class last spring and it was difficult for the little boy. He only spoke Chinese and was 2yrs 9 mos when he started. He acted out a lot by hitting and scratching others and the teacher even referred to him as a loner because he didn't really play with anyone (or try parallel play.) I think if your daughter is older she will be better able to handle this but just wanted to warn you that while the benefits mentioned above are all true, there is the other side of the coin to consider.

Things to try to make it easier for her could be things like planning playdates with classmates on days off or after school and really monitoring her emotional status. Maybe hiring a German-speaking Nanny to work with her on days off would help speed up her language aquisition too. I would just have a back-up plan (is there an American school nearby?) because starting a new school can be difficult but even more so if you can't speak the language. Sorry this isn't more positive, just what we experienced when the shoe was on the other foot so to speak...
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. And, Siddie, please don’t worry about what you said. It’s actually really good for me to hear that. I’m going to dedicate the month to helping DC adjust.
We’ve been by the school two days this week and I’ve been waving at some parents when I see them around the neighborhood. I’ll make a big effort to join the school community also.

She’ll be 3 in September, btw.

Any more ideas on readiness? Books, talks? I was actually considering a gift to mark this passage but I’m not sure about that.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Oh, and also good tip on controling my feelings. Believe me, I know the power of that but I did need a reminder.
post #9 of 11
my dd is not in an immersion preschool, per se, but we live in a community with a high percentage of spanish speaking families (the elementary school IS an immersion program), so many of the kids in dd's preschool speak only spanish, and since her teachers are also fluent in both spanish and english, they tend to speak both in the classroom. dd has picked up spanish wonderfully, she even has a sweet beautiful mexican accent, just like her teachers. at home, she sometimes answers me in spanish, or will ask the spanish word for something she sees in a book (if i don't know it, we just walk outside and ask our neighbors, very handy). in any case, i know this is different than total immersion, but in my experience, dd has been a little sponge and just loves the thought of learning a different language and eventually being able to communicate fully with friends and neighbors who speak only spanish.

good luck! i'm sure she'll do great!
post #10 of 11
Five years ago, when we visited Germany for 6 weeks, we put our 4 year old in a German Kindergarten. She loved it. She didn't speak a word of German when she went. I'm not sure her vocabulary grew much, but her comprehension did. Also, she's pretty much an introvert. But she really liked the kindergarten.

post #11 of 11
My kids are Danish like their dad and I am Brazilian. We moved to the US and they only spoke Danish and Portuguese at home and no English. DD and DS picked some English over 2 months from watching TV, and when it was time for DD to begin Kindergarten, they did not want to let her attend saying she needed to improve her English!! I was sooo mad - what better way to learn a language than to be immersed in it??? I guess they did not want her to "delay the other kids" Whatever!!
Turns out I put DD and DS in a Presschool for the year (DD everyday, and DS twice a week), and in 4 weeks their English was as good, if not better than the other kids'!!! They had a great time! There was also another little boy who had never learnt any English (he was Korean) and after 2 months he was fluent.
Now, every school I talked to to apply DD for Kindergarten say that she is actually ready for First Grade! So much for the other kindergarten's saying DD was never going to catch up... DS is 4 , is also reading and is gong to start kindergarten.
So what I am trying to say is, kids are amazing little sponges. Just offer them the opportunities and knowledge and they will amaze you. Don't let people say it will be too hard for them to learn a new language or whatever.
Try to relax - you will be happily surprised!!
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