language forgetting.
The issue at hand is that my daughters do not hear enough German to be able to develop a strong foundation, right?"/> InCultureParent | Language Forgetting

Pin It
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Language Forgetting

By

I am still thinking about language forgetting.

The issue at hand is that my daughters do not hear enough German to be able to develop a strong foundation, right? I am the only constantly available source of German they have. Doesn’t that mean that I am the issue, really?

Well, part of it is the fact that one person alone cannot provide enough immersion. It’s almost like dipping your toe into a puddle and then claiming you took a bath. I also work during the day and my time with the girls is limited, a lot more limited than I’d like it to be.

But within the limits I could still do a better job if I didn’t experience language detachment myself. I think.

Expat Issues

A lot of people who leave their countries or cultures and settle somewhere else develop behaviour or beliefs that link them back. Could be a strong faith, strict adherence to tradition or close ties to fellow expats.

It’s a normal reaction. If you do not have the comfortable support of a whole society behind you, you can either forget about your roots or keep them alive alone. The latter is difficult at best and easily overdone.

Now I am fairly laid back and I don’t usually overdo a lot of things. But I find myself obsessing about my mother tongue. I worry about it. I talk about it with anyone who will listen or share. I read about it. I blog about it.

Sometimes I will address non-German children in German. I started doing it with our friends’ smaller children (planting seeds, I guess). That worked better than I anticipated. So I stepped it up and tried it with older kids. It still works a little bit, and the looks I get are just brilliant. Can’t really see myself stopping this anytime soon…

I guess language is my personal expat issue. Maybe I should accept it as such and go for it completely. From now on, people visiting my house will be expected to speak German! Or at least understand it. Jawohl!

© 2011 – 2013, Jan Petersen. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan

Our top picks for Muslim and non-Muslim kids alike

Are French Kids Better Behaved Because They are Spanked?

Should spanking be part of your parenting toolkit to have well behaved kids?

An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline

Does Islam's reputation for severity and harshness apply to how Muslims raise children?

A Different World: No Longer Brown in White America

Is it racist to not want to raise your kids in white America?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jan, who is German, works mainly from home as a software engineer. His wife, who is Algerian, stays at home to look after their three girls aged 7, 4 and 1. They live in the U.K. and are raising their children multilingual in Arabic, French, German and English.

Leave us a comment!

1 Comment
  1. Commentssaill   |  Wednesday, 20 April 2011 at 5:36 am

    I wonder if speaking more than one language at the same time is as inefficient as other types of multi-tasking is being found to be.

    For myself, I feel stilted and awkward with a different language until I have been immersed in it for at least several weeks – to the point where I am beginning to dream in the second language. I would guess that even my native language would get “back-burnered” once I were sufficiently immersed in a new one.









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.
Hi Kim! I am so glad that this article was useful for you and made you feel validated as a parent. It's not often in this judgmental world of parenting we get that, right?! That's the main reason...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
I love reading your work. I can olny imagine what it would be like to have such beautiful customs and true community. I understand why it is so very very important to keep these traditions alive. Be...
From No Kids Allowed: How Kenyan Weddings are Changing
Your mother in-law seems somewhat reasonable. Many Chinese Mother In-laws are not. In their scenario, they would be number 1 to the child and you would be number two. Many want to have a bond closer...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
I think Konstantina is actually responding to what is probably more familiar/praised/or preferred socially as well. I was an English teacher in Poland with a distinct accent. I struggled to get Engl...
From Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Noor Kids' title "First Time Fasting" is another great rea...
From 6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan
This article was shared in a community I run to connect globetrotting parents and everyone LOVED it. You should join us! We all relate to your experience. Many of us, including me, are in the same b...
From Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get
Please help: I Love my wife and my son. I am also EXTREMELY involved as a dad. I had to move to china ( in a tiny tiny town) where I am the only foreigner so that my wife can take over the family bu...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
Thanks for writing this!! My baby is 7 months, and I love having her sleep in my room. I don't mention it too often to people who have had kids because they seem a little judgy on it. So tonight I...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Honestly, it looks like the author married into a very backward and old fashioned family. Not stimulating children's curiosity, differences between boys and girls, and women slaving in the house, wh...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family

More from Our Bloggers