Ines is the mother of 2 small children, a daughter 3 years old and a son 5 years old. She works as a home care provider for parents who want to surround their children with German language, food and traditions, substitutes at the German Preschool (Washington, D.C.) and is a German teacher at the German Language School (Washington, D.C.).
Ines tries to expose her kids to German language and culture in a variety of ways. Her family follows the OPOL method – one parent one language where one parent speaks German to the kids and the other speaks English. At this time, her daughter answers in German, while her son answers mostly in English.
Ines creates opportunities for her family to be in situations that exposes them to more German. She and her family are involved in their local German community. She helped start a German playgroup which has lead to new friendships for both the kids and the parents. Ines teaches at the local German language Saturday School and invites families from there to meet up. They organize dinners out (KlatschAbend) and meet on Sundays for German family time at a local playground. (Find out more about the German community in Maryland on their Facebook page – Deutsche in Germantown and Maryland).
We asked Ines to answer a few questions for us about her family.
Why do you want your child to speak German?
Well, I am German! Secondly, my family in Germany does not speak English. I need my kids to be able to speak to Oma and all our family members. And besides…how super cool and amazing is it to be bilingual and have it easier to learn even more languages later?
Do you actively “teach” German?
Yes, I do! We have German workbooks and my kids get to “work” in them every morning before they go to school. I work at the German Language School and also created my own little “Kinderstunde” here for Parks and Rec in Maryland and for the City of Gaithersburg. I teach children from 11 months to 6. Right now it is just perfect because that is the age range of my children. Whatever I teach in my unit I get to practice on my own kids… so I will see what is super effective and what is challenging.
My children listen, sing and dance to German movement songs in the car, Skype with my mom, sister and friends in Germany. They get to watch YouTube movies in German, and of course we read German books every day.
What is your biggest challenge in teaching your child German?
My biggest challenge is to speak German to my children all the time. I often start speaking in English and when I hear myself I switch into German because I remember…”I need to speak in German otherwise they will not.”
What is your goal for your child to speak in German?
My goal for my children to speak in German right now is that we can go to Germany and be with our family and my children will be just able to speak and understand their grandparents, family members and have fun in preschool there.
What is your favorite German language book, CD or DVD?
Mmm…my kids love to listen to the audiobooks about “Kokosnuss”. (Kokosnuss is a curious, friendly little dragon. He and his friends star in a variety of picture books,easy reader books, audio books and in their movie coming out December 2014. www.drache-kokosnuss.de)
My favorite books are by Eric Carle, but I really like Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt.
Do you have any helpful hints for parents raising bilingual children?
Surround yourself with friends of that particular language. Use all the media out there…we use clixmix.de for example and we read, read, read German books and magazines. Find a class you can take together with your child to learn the language in a fun and interactive, hands-on way.