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#1 of 13 Old 07-08-2010, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Long story short. For the next two months DD's going to be in a daycare situation where she doesn't know the language (ok, she speaks one word in it...). She has heard me speak in German on a number of occasions with friends and coworkers but never at home to her. She'll probably start on Monday (we have to iron out all the details tomorrow) so I have basically 3 days to integrate her as much as possible. Any suggestions on how to prepare her????

It's not like I can just switch at home because DH doesn't speak German (ok, he knows some basics but wouldn't feel comfortable with an all-German weekend). She understands almost everything in English and DH's native language so I'm worried that it's going to be a shock for her (she's 1.5 years old) and she can get her point across well already in both the languages so I think there's going to be a lot of frustration with not being understood... Has anybody gone through something similar? Any advice?


One other issue... DD is mixed and we've been getting a lot of stares around here on the bus, etc. Any way to get them to stop?????
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#2 of 13 Old 07-08-2010, 01:26 PM
 
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I haven't been in a similar situation. But a couple of thoughts: My dh doesn't really speak my language...he understands a little, but most of what I say to dd is incomprehensible to him. If he wants to know what I've said, he asks me, and I repeat it in his language. I think it took him a while to feel comfortable with it, but he just came to accept it as necessary. Would a weekend of your speaking German to your dd really be that hard for your dh? It's just a few days. The other thing, I don't think I'd worry too much about a child your dd's age, or even my dd's age 2.5, being immersed in an unfamiliar third language situation like that...I think that if they're already verbal, they'd pick up the basics of the new language very quickly. But maybe I'm just being overly optimistic?

As for the staring thing I wish I knew how to make it stop. My dd isn't mixed (well, she's mixed culture, but not mixed race) but we do gets lots of stares (and often even glares) when we're out because my appearance makes it obvious that I'm a foreigner and dd and I speak a different language to what is spoken here.

Edited to add: Didn't make this clear, but my not worrying too much about immersion into an unfamiliar language would depend upon giving some support to that language, which could be something like introducing it first at home.
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#3 of 13 Old 07-08-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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not exactly the same situation since DS was 4 when sent to kindergarten not speaking 10 words of english .... we just made sure he was able to express that he wanted to use the toilet, ask for a drink ..just the basics

he was so starved of the company of children his age that he didn't mind much & even accepted going to some other kid's house to play without me after school & these people barely knew a few words of his mother tongue

it very much depends on the child, so it could well be painless .... and if problems should arise, hopefully the caregivers will be aware and willing to talk about it and look for solutions ....
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#4 of 13 Old 07-09-2010, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, we decided to start her today because then I had more time to stay with her and could ask all my questions and see how it goes. The place is just absolutely adorable. VERY clean (there was one lady sweeping, mopping etc. the entire time). It was filled with so many beautiful wooden toys, it was amazing. Tons of craft stuff available too and it had less than a 2:1 ratio for kids to caregivers.

DD really liked it at first, she did start to get clingy after a bit but I think that was more from the newness than anything else. I was pretty shocked, though, about one incident. I had to go to the bathroom and DD started getting nervous. One of the ladies there told DD (in German) that I was at work and would be back soon and she totally got it and was fine! I wonder now if she's picked up more German than I originally thought!!! The other good thing is that there is one lady there that understands some English and can even speak a bit. When I would talk to DD in English she'd even join in the conversation some (normally responding in German), so I think that will help a lot. They also had some books there that she recognized albeit in German, so that was a comfort to her too.

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Originally Posted by pear-shaped View Post
I haven't been in a similar situation. But a couple of thoughts: My dh doesn't really speak my language...he understands a little, but most of what I say to dd is incomprehensible to him. If he wants to know what I've said, he asks me, and I repeat it in his language. I think it took him a while to feel comfortable with it, but he just came to accept it as necessary. Would a weekend of your speaking German to your dd really be that hard for your dh? It's just a few days. The other thing, I don't think I'd worry too much about a child your dd's age, or even my dd's age 2.5, being immersed in an unfamiliar third language situation like that...I think that if they're already verbal, they'd pick up the basics of the new language very quickly. But maybe I'm just being overly optimistic?

Edited to add: Didn't make this clear, but my not worrying too much about immersion into an unfamiliar language would depend upon giving some support to that language, which could be something like introducing it first at home.


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not exactly the same situation since DS was 4 when sent to kindergarten not speaking 10 words of english .... we just made sure he was able to express that he wanted to use the toilet, ask for a drink ..just the basics

he was so starved of the company of children his age that he didn't mind much & even accepted going to some other kid's house to play without me after school & these people barely knew a few words of his mother tongue

it very much depends on the child, so it could well be painless .... and if problems should arise, hopefully the caregivers will be aware and willing to talk about it and look for solutions ....

At home now, I've been trying to point out some things to her in German also. She even said "bee" in German today! So now we're up to 2 words. I'm thinking now maybe i should continue once we get back to the states? I know there is a German playgroup and I should probably make more of an effort to go...

At home, I know DH would be pretty annoyed if I talked to DD in German. He gets annoyed if he doesn't understand (we've had issues with this before when I wanted to visit friends that didn't speak English). But maybe when he's at work in the future I'll try and speak more with her in German. He actually should learn German since we come here A LOT but so far he hasn't wanted to make the effort (although like I said he can understand some and speak some too).


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As for the staring thing I wish I knew how to make it stop. My dd isn't mixed (well, she's mixed culture, but not mixed race) but we do gets lots of stares (and often even glares) when we're out because my appearance makes it obvious that I'm a foreigner and dd and I speak a different language to what is spoken here.
Thanks, it's so frustrating. DH and I used to get looks too before DD came along because he's clearly not German but it's not quite the same as when you see people doing that to DD. It's probably also the language thing too, it definitely makes us stick out more before most people just assumed I was German (or maybe had German parents but was raised in the US) since my accent is pretty small, so now it's like there's a big sign over my head that says foreigner. I'm sorry you have to deal with this too.
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#5 of 13 Old 07-09-2010, 08:25 AM
 
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The place is just absolutely adorable. VERY clean (there was one lady sweeping, mopping etc. the entire time). It was filled with so many beautiful wooden toys, it was amazing. Tons of craft stuff available too and it had less than a 2:1 ratio for kids to caregivers.
That sounds wonderful. I'd jump at the opportunity to send my dd to a daycare like that! I'm glad to hear that it's working out too.

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He gets annoyed if he doesn't understand (we've had issues with this before when I wanted to visit friends that didn't speak English). But maybe when he's at work in the future I'll try and speak more with her in German. He actually should learn German since we come here A LOT but so far he hasn't wanted to make the effort (although like I said he can understand some and speak some too).
I get this. My dh is not happy when we're around people who only speak English, and sometimes I even get bad vibes from him after I've had a long phone conversation with my sister. We've only been to the U.S. once since we married, so he hasn't experienced much of it, because no one we spend time with here speaks any English. I also think that if it were a third language, he'd have much less patience for it!

I will say this about German, though, it's a hard language to learn! I studied it for three years as a student, and a couple upper level courses conducted completely in German, one on literature and the other on history (even our papers had to written in German) but I never got past the most rudimentary conversational skills. I was able to read it well and used it later in grad school for research, but I never really spoke it.
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#6 of 13 Old 07-09-2010, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That sounds wonderful. I'd jump at the opportunity to send my dd to a daycare like that! I'm glad to hear that it's working out too.
Yes, DH and I were sooo nervous going into it. Since daycare is subsidized here we were worried about how cheap the price was! But seriously, I don't know if I could've asked for anything better. It also has a multiage setting (something that I prefer since I think kids can learn a lot from each other) and they serve healthy meals so it's really a dream come true. I just can't imagine how well it worked out.


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I get this. My dh is not happy when we're around people who only speak English, and sometimes I even get bad vibes from him after I've had a long phone conversation with my sister. We've only been to the U.S. once since we married, so he hasn't experienced much of it, because no one we spend time with here speaks any English. I also think that if it were a third language, he'd have much less patience for it!

I will say this about German, though, it's a hard language to learn! I studied it for three years as a student, and a couple upper level courses conducted completely in German, one on literature and the other on history (even our papers had to written in German) but I never got past the most rudimentary conversational skills. I was able to read it well and used it later in grad school for research, but I never really spoke it.
Yes, that sounds like DH. He's better, since we actually lived in Germany for a number of years, but he still prefers English by far.

I'm actually the opposite in German. Then again, most of it I learned living here, although I did have a minor in college. But my speaking is way better than my written German. I've even held classes, etc here... but I'm a horrible, horrible writer! I actually had to take a special language test for the university because I just missed the written portion of the test (thankfully it was a spoken test so there wasn't any problem). But I always found that written and spoken German are so different that normal people are good in one or the other but not both (unless they learned German from a very young age). Many of the students that took German classes with me didn't study abroad as much as I did (or in a special program just for Americans) and it seemed that it was always that there writing was always significantly better than mine but not their speaking. But that's totally anecdotal.
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#7 of 13 Old 07-09-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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I don't have any experience with the language thing, but I do have a mixed son. I found that when someone is staring, staring right back works well. I think it makes people feel stupid for staring.

Marsha
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#8 of 13 Old 07-10-2010, 04:09 PM
 
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My kids go to a school with a lot of refugee children who don't speak the community language (French) and often the parents don't either.

In seven years of pre-school (yes, count'em, I have three and the last just finished), I have never seen or heard of any problems. The children are 3 when they start.

I had friends who were wondering about this, since they don't speak French at home and dreaded the thought of long commutes to special English speaking schools... So I had a chat with the teachers. OMG! They went on and on about how well it works. "Toddlers have specific needs so it's not hard to figure out". "We just gesture and they get it the second time" "They understand everything by Christmas and are totally adapted by the end of the year..." They gave me examples of how they would just say "Please close the door" then show it with their hand. Works great with kids...

So my two girlfriends sent their children to their respective local schools. Success? One is now 10 and a straight-A student. The other eventually moved away but he was loving it before leaving and doing great. When the moved, unfortunately, they had to change to a school in the parents' two languages which meant no more French. It was hard but they thought long-term, it was better for the child to do his two "own" languages, even though one was foreign to him (English, dad was American). The parents spoke the mom's language as a family.

Yes, I was speaking to an American child in French when I saw him lol!

I've seen many expat families who put their children in preschool here (which btw, is free) only to heartbreakingly have to pull them out again when they move. French schools in America are pricey and not available everywhere so keeping it up is not really an option. They're fluent, only to lose it again!

As far as the parents' language abilities go, it didn't seem to have an impact at this age. Those whose parents couldn't speak French learned just as quickly. In fact, I've kind of put my foot in it. My child will be talking to another child in fluent French and I'll turn to the mother to make chit-chat, only to have her look at my blankly and say "Bonjour" and nothing else.

Oops! Well, the parents eventually pick it up, but not as quickly and easily as their children lol!
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#9 of 13 Old 07-11-2010, 06:59 AM
 
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Had a very similar situation when DS was 22 months. I speak English, DH Dutch, and I was going to be in Portugal for research. DS was going with me and I certainly couldn't afford an English or Dutch speaking au pair/nanny or English language int'l childcare geared towards highly-paid expats (even if I had been able to afford it, it wasn't conveniently located).

The first few days were hard for DS. After a while, though, he was fine and even started to teach the Portuguese kids some words in English and Dutch!
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#10 of 13 Old 07-15-2010, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So it's been almost a week now. The transition has been tough more from the separation anxiety aspect but it seems that language wise she's ok. The workers there said that she's adjusting a lot better and there are 2 that speak at least some English (although I have a hard time understanding them). Thanks everyone for your support and sharing your own stories, they are encouraging! I do have some questions, though:

1. I've tried speaking with DD in German some and she does not like it at all! I was just pointing out some things and showing her the nouns and she got really upset and would say "no" and get upset. But if I said the name in English or Portuguese she'd say "yes". So is this just her way of saying I shouldn't try and speak German with her?

2. We've noticed DD hasn't been speaking as much at home. Part of it might just be clinginess and adjusting to the new situation but I wonder if part of it is also the new language? Thoughts?

3. I feel bad... there's one worker there who speaks some English but I can't understand her accent at all! It'd be a lot easier if she'd just speak in German to me... is there a polite way to ask her to just speak in German or should I tr and suffer through it?

4. If you where in a similar situation how long did it take your kids to start picking up the third language? Would they use words in it at home too?
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#11 of 13 Old 07-26-2010, 01:01 AM
 
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I can only answer you on #1, but yes, my kids will refuse "foreign" languages from me or get upset if I speak to them in a language they don't want me to speak to them in. They are young, I don't do it on a consistent basis, and I'd bet your DD is full of German at the school and just wants you to be "normal".

Sounds like a lovely place and nice workers. It's tough on the English speaker - they may be having fun trying to use their English with you.

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#12 of 13 Old 07-26-2010, 07:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I can only answer you on #1, but yes, my kids will refuse "foreign" languages from me or get upset if I speak to them in a language they don't want me to speak to them in. They are young, I don't do it on a consistent basis, and I'd bet your DD is full of German at the school and just wants you to be "normal".

Sounds like a lovely place and nice workers. It's tough on the English speaker - they may be having fun trying to use their English with you.

Tjej
Isn't that funny? Yeah, I've given up on trying to speak with her in it. We do have a Dora DVD that I let her watch while I'm doing dishes and preparing breakfast. Anyways, I was sick of hearing it in English so I let her watch it in German this weekend and she did just fine with that but I guess just hearing me speaking German is to much for her! But I think you made a good point about her being full of German for the day. That's got to be a lot for her!!!

as for 2. I guess I asked that one way too soon! After a day or two of speaking less she just started speaking a lot more. She's even been including two word sentences on occassion, so I guess I was worrying for nothing.

On and for 3... the lady doesn't always work there and is many times busy so I've been able to avoid saying anything to her. The worker who's the most talkative and likes to tell me the most how DD's day went doesn't speak English so there's no issues there...

I'd still love to here back about 4, though, if anybody knows! We have noticed that DD is running around the house saying "nein" but that's about it.
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#13 of 13 Old 07-26-2010, 01:08 PM
 
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Children are really conservative about language. Once they have an established relationship with anyone, they will insist on keeping to that language. They don't understand the concept of "practising" or just doing it for fun. Communication is sacred and is to be done in the "right" language.

The director of the school actually speaks English quite well but I asked him to not use it with my two dd's. They interpret it as being treated differently so I told him he can use it with them if really not in earshot of the others. Obviously, he never bothered (especially since my kids are stronger in French).

Don't "suffer" though the English and certainly don't have her use it with your dd! One good way of dealing with this situation (which I've run into soooo many times) is to keep making them repeat and then "fill in" with the other language (in your case, German) as needed. Soon they realize this is "needed" a lot and they'll just give up and resort to whatever both can use more easily. This is better than asking them directly and then having them "forget" (yeah, had this too!) They need to see that they're not using the more logical language and if you make a "non-issue" of it, the better it is for their ego.

I think the clinginess is just adjusting to the new situation. A new childcare arrangement can be traumatic in the same language. I'm sure it would have happened if it were in a language used at home. I certainly have had issues with my kids and they're stronger in French then in the English I use with them.

How long it will take her to pick up the language depends on a lot of factors. How many hours she goes, how much exposure outside the home (playground? friends?) Her personality plays a role too and the relationship she develops with her caregivers... What she will pick up quickly is comprehension. She'll be following what's going on very soon. That sort of unblocks the language barrier and means she can fully participate. How much more she'll venture in will basically be up to her. Many of the kids in our school don't talk till after Christmas but these kids have had NO exposure to French and have just moved countries. Kind of a lot of change in their lives all at once! Lots of new things to absorb.

Unlike adults, kids can get by without having to say a lot, as long as their needs are being met. Often, they'll all be sent to the restrooms, given a drink or put down for a nap together. It's all really obvious and she doesn't have to initiate much.

Please don't make her use the German at home. Talk about her experiences in the language you usually use with her though. The cultural aspects might be more of an adjustment than the linguistic ones!

Good luck!
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