Thursday, June 27, 2013

Oh Dear, We Are Raising a Bilingual Child!

It should not have come as a surprise. We are a Finnish family living in Germany and our daughter spends her days in a German Krippe.

And as I have wrote here before, spending some time daily in the Krippe seems to be the easiest way to learn German.

Unrelated photos from last week, when it was 20 degrees warmer than today

But still, I have only now come to realize that we are actually raising a bilingual child!

It has taken quite long for Fräulein to learn to speak, but now that she does, it is easy to notice that she speaks two languages. Two languages! My child! I have always been poor in learning languages and now I have a bilingual daughter!

And I have no idea what to do. At first, when Fräulein said something in German to me, I repeated it in Finnish. But it soon started to sound like I was correcting her and that is not the impression I want to make.

I think I should find some books about raising a bilingual child. I think it is important that a child learns to master one language perfectly. Learning other languages is just a bonus.

But for now, as she is only two years old, we will let her use her own combination of the two languages. The only 'rule' I have is that I speak consistently Finnish to her myself.

Poor Fräulein has inherited my hair, which becomes all curly when it is moist.

We will fly to Finland next week and spend several weeks with our friends and family. So, in case some of you don't speak German, here is a small dictionary of Fräulein's most common German phrases:
German English Finnish
Mein! My! Minun!
Nein! No! Ei!
Nicht du! Not you! Et sinä!
Ich auch! I too! Minä myös!
Zu viel! Too much! Liian paljon!
Nur bisschen! Just a little! Vain vähän!
Ich möchte ... haben I would like to have... Haluaisin...
Danke! Thank you! Kiitos!
Morgen!* Morning! Huomenta!
Tschüs! Bye! Hei hei!
Laut! Loud! Kovaa!

Do you notice a pattern here? Most of these phrases end with an exclamation mark - useful in kindergarten :)

*) Fräulein uses 'Morgen!' as a greeting at any time of the day...  

O-ou, vasta hiljattain oivalsin, että Fräuleinhan on kaksikielinen! Itselläni on aina ollut huono kielipää ja nyt oma kaksivuotias tyttäreni puhuu kahta kieltä!

Olen myös oivaltanut, ettei minulla ole hajuakaan, miten kaksikielisyyttä tulisi tukea. Mutta toistaiseksi menemme periaatteella, että Fräulein saa puhua kieliä sekaisin, kunhan itse olemme johdonmukaisia suomen kielen käytössä.

Fräuleinin sanastossa on paljon saksankielisiä sanoja, mutta yllä on listattuna yleisimmin toistuvia sanontoja. Jotenkin huomaa, että nämä on opittu päiväkodissa... :)


Annabelle H said...

Come and join the fun here:
You'll get lots of tips from parents, not just so-called experts.

And make sure you reinforce the Finnish as German will soon take over if you stay in Germany long term.

manycoloured-days said...

Good for her. And that's the general rule - one person-one language, unless you are in company and you're speaking another language for someone else's sake. She'll be just fine. I'm sure you'll be reading her lots of books in Finnish and you go back for regular holidays.