Big Ive has been going to the German Kindergarten in our village since the middle of August, 3 months now. The teachers do speak English to her, but it’s mostly German and they have almost completely only started to speak to her in German (at least initially, sometimes they follow up with the English translation). The kids all speak only German, obviously. There are 3 of them with one parent that is from the USA, but they pretty much only speak German in the Kindergarten. All that to say, this kid is definitely learning German.
I know she babbles pretend German all the time at home. She babbles pretend English all the time, too. I can’t understand some of her English, let alone any German she’s trying to speak. She has started singing German children’s songs at home this past week.
Point in case: tonight we were picking up the girls from childcare after a meeting at church. The lady watching Big Ive was speaking to us and said, “Does she go to German school? Because she was speaking German in the play room.”
This is interesting because LOML and I have been trying to get her to speak German at home (we know she does at school, the teachers say so) and she refuses. When I speak German to her — my very limited German, mind you — she usually responds with something along the lines of, “Nein! Mommy don’t say that!” It’s like she compartmentalizes the different words for each person. Mom and Dad use these words (English) and Teachers and Friends use these words (German). And you CANNOT mix them up. I’ve heard of kids growing up in bilingual homes with a more rare language and they absolutely refuse to speak it back to their parents. They will respond in English to commands/questions in the other language.
LOML and I wonder where this little language and culture experiment with our child will take us. I hope that as I learn more and more German that Big Ive will just think it is now normal for mom to speak to me with those words and then she’ll willingly respond back to me in German. And I sincerely hope to be able to learn enough German so that when we move back to the States I (and LOML) will be able to keep speaking with her and maintain the language.