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How to Raise a Bilingual Child in Canada or USA

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People immigrate, often without children, Germany, Switzerland and Austria to Canada or the US. Suddenly they have children and want them to be bilingual. Then they start realizing, it isn't always as easy as it looks. Here are some tips.

Published in: Education
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How to Raise a Bilingual Child in Canada or USA

  1. 1. START VERY YOUNG •  Read to them and let them hear the sounds •  Sing German songs •  Sing the German Alphabet •  Play German music while you are hanging around the house
  2. 2. FIND A SUPPORT GROUP •  Find a friend who is in the same boat •  Start a German Group at the local church/community centre •  Start or join a German Preschool/School once they are old enough •  At least attend a weekly German Program – if there isn’t one, start one!
  3. 3. STAY CONNECTED •  Keep up a good relationship with your family back home •  Put up pictures and memorabilia of your life and friends back home •  Put up a map of Germany (or Austria/Switzerland) and let them know where you come from •  Visit German organizations or associations in your neighbourhood
  4. 4. VISIT GERMANY •  Or Austria or Switzerland •  Introduce your family, your neighbourhood, your village/town/city •  Travel around, if you can •  Take lots of pictures and talk about them when you are back home!
  5. 5. USE MULTIMEDIA •  Collect DVD’s, Videos, CD’s •  Take old records and put them on CD’s •  Watch shows and songs on YouTube •  Get to know German singers appropriate to their age – there are so many
  6. 6. READ •  Start with picture books and photo albums •  Collect German children’s books from other people •  Visit the local Library, which still might have a German book section •  Borrow books from your local German School •  Ask your family to send them out from Germany
  7. 7. GERMAN FAMILY TRADITIONS •  Open presents on Christmas Eve •  Put out shoes for Nikolaus Day •  Get an Advent Calendar from your local German store before December 1 and light one candle each Sunday before Christmas Eve at home •  Celebrate Fasching, St. Martin’s Lantern Festival, Easter and other German holidays •  Try to learn some basic literature suitable for the various times of year – songs/ poetry/games
  8. 8. USE THE INTERNET •  You can get art ideas, colouring pages, DIY projects etc. •  You can get grammar and spelling worksheets •  You can make up your own crossword puzzles or word searches online •  You can order German resources •  Learn the difference between DaZ (Deutsch als Zweitsprache) and DaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache
  9. 9. GET A GERMAN NANNY/AU PAIR It is important to have your child learn the unique sounds, so if you have to to work sooner than you want, hire a German caregiver for them Make sure they are comfortable and happy with that person, as they will soon associate the language with them You can almost always find someone who is already in the country, rather than going through an agency and struggling to bring them over
  10. 10. NEVER GIVE UP •  “But my child doesn’t want to learn German” – maybe it needs to be more fun for them? They can only watch YouTube in German? •  “But my child only answer me in Englis”h – simple, then they don’t get whatever it is they are asking for •  “But my child hates German School” – remind them of the many opportunities they will have to work and study in Germany once they are done •  Some children find the grammar/sentence structure too challenging and give up, as languages is not their strength, but even so, keep it up! •  If all else fails, bribe them with a trip to Germany one day. Or with some money for every A they achieve. Or with the promise to spend more time on the Internet – find out what motivates them and never give up •  What are some ideas you have to keep your children learning German?
  11. 11. READ MORE ON MY BLOG German News in English www.westcoastgermannews.com lists events, companies and blog posts letting you know what German-speakers on the Westcoast of Canada and the US are up to. Elke Porter admin@westcoastgermannews.com

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