Archive for One Parent One Language

Logistics

Question:

I very much enjoyed Bilingual by Choice. I am expecting my first baby and I cannot wait to meet him! I am German, my husband is from the United States. We currently live in the US. We speak both English and German (but his German is a little rusty and I speak English with an accent). We want our child to know both languages but are unsure how to address the situation in the home. I will speak German, he will speak English. But what should we do when we speak in front of our baby? Should I speak German to my husband and my husband answers in English or would that be too confusing?

I’m glad you enjoyed the book! And I’m glad you’ve made the commitment to use your native language with your baby. First and foremost, the language situation at home has to feel very natural. What language do you and your husband speak to one another now? That will most likely be the language you use after the baby is born. Speaking German to your husband and him answering in English will quickly sound awkward and, unfortunately, will only teach your child that he or she doesn’t have to answer you in German!

But you’re lucky to have a spouse who speaks your native language. When you want a boost in German exposure, you can have “German-only” days at home, which is great practice for your spouse. In addition, it will show your child, as he or she grows, that the whole family values German, which will go a long way in your goal of raising a bilingual child. Best of luck and congratulations!

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