‘Goals’ came up in conversation the other day, more specifially bilingual goals, and what it was that we hoped for our children.  And it made me stop and think…what are my bilingual goals? What is it that I hope to accomplish by speaking to Mausi in German?

It’s an important question I think, and one all parents raising multilingual children should at one point ask themselves. The answer will dictate, to a certain degree, not necessarily your approach, but certainly your satisfaction with the outcome. Do you aim to raise a fully bilingual child? A child able to read, write and speak a second (third or fourth) language? Or are you content with comprehension in a second language and some spoken words? Any amount of another language is admirable, and the extent to which an individual family wishes to be multilingual is a personal choice.

So after considering it for a little while I thought perhaps setting my goals down in a semi-concrete fashion would give me a starting point to look back on and keep me centred when I feel things are not going as planned.

My goals for speaking German with Mausi:

  • That she receives exposure to another language now, while she is still young, and language learning is not yet a chore.
  • That we have fun together with German books, songs and finger plays.
  • To use the German language as an avenue along which to share some of the German traditions I remember from my childhood.
  • To be able to, through German picture and story books, look at another country and explore how everyday life can be slightly different. As an example, I have yet to find an English book quite like this.

I hope that through my speaking to her in German she will continue to learn words in both languages, that we will reach a point where we will be able to sing songs together in German and that some of her favourite stories might be in German as well. I don’t expect that German will be as prominent as English; she hears English far more than German, and it is the majority language. I expect her to likely initiate most conversations in English, and that is absolutely fine.  But I do hope, that if I speak to her in German, she may just answer in it as well.

I am not setting out to raise a fully bilingual child.  I am setting out to give her as much of the language as I can while having fun in our everyday lives. I have hopes of what we will accomplish, but for the time being I am happy knowing that she has at least started to make some different language connections in her head, and that in itself will stand her in good stead.

This post is included in the April Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism hosted this month by Multilingual Mania. For more information on the carnival check out the carnival page on Bilingue per Gioco.

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3 Responses to Bilingual Goals

  1. Lynn says:

    Belinda, thanks so much for sharing your goals. Although I hadn’t really thought it through so thoroughly, my goals in speaking Spanish to my son are quite similar to yours, although Spanish is a non-native language for me. Sometimes, I feel that I’m not doing enough, but I find that reading about others’ experiences and perspectives is really helpful.

  2. I started out just like you, talking and singing and reading in Dutch with my Lola. She answered me in Dutch (sort of), sang with me, and understood me. But as she started talking more and more, and spending more time in daycare, English became her normal. And I automatically answer her in English. It doesn’t help that my husband speaks nor understands Dutch. I hope you have the chance to be more consistent than I am. It really is wonderful to grow up bilingual!

    Hanneke

  3. cartside says:

    Great idea to put together goals, I always assumed that balanced bilingualism would be a natural outcome of OPOL, but it may not be. And passive bilingualism is a great thing in itself!
    Really glad to have found your blog through the carnival.

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