Which school should we choose?
Thread poster: Mayy1006
Mayy1006
English to German
Oct 15, 2007

Hello,
I am from the Uk and my husband is from Iraq, and we have been living in Germany, so my fiver year old has been attending German nursery, but her mother tongue is English. Now we have moved to France and enrolled her into the German nursery, as we are not sure if we are going back to Germany at some time. She goes to an English school once a week, which she loves and prefers it to the German nursery. Now the dilemma:do we carry on sending her to the German nursery, just in case we go back to Germany or do we send her to the English school full-time? It is such a difficult decision to make, as we know she would be "happier" in the Engish school, but she would forget German as we do not speak German at home. Can anyone give me some advice?


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:34
English to Arabic
+ ...
Make your decision regardless of where you're going to be living next Oct 15, 2007

I think it's very hard to base your decision on where you think you might be in a year or two, or even ten!
To mention my own example, my father's job took us from one country to another every 3-5 years, so my parents just decided to send us to German schools. None of my parents spoke German, and they didn't know if we'd ever end up in Germany (we did eventually). Thankfully, we always found German schools wherever we went.
So I think you just have to ask yourself whether you want to give your child German or British education until high school, regardless of where you're living right now or will be in a year or two.

Good luck!


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:34
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Don't speak German? Oct 15, 2007

Then why put your child in a German nursery if you are not living in Germany, there are no German grandparents?, no German TV etc?
Should you go back to Germany your child will probably adapt to German again because I suppose she learnt it when you where there ( you can always get a German Au Pair I suppose)

Your child is obviously happy in an English environment (kids songs, games etc..) Go for English!
(she will likely pick up French anyway)

Ed


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:34
Member
English
+ ...
Do you speak native level German? Oct 15, 2007

I notice you translate into German - despite being from the UK. Does that mean you are a native German speaker? If so, I'd advise you to practice OPOL (One Parent One Language) with your husband speaking Arabic and you speaking German. Then I presume your common tongue is English so your child will pick up that and finally let the French environment take care of the rest.

Don't worry, kids survive and prosper in these situations. I was on a bilingual families mailing list where Dad was Arabic, Mum was Dutch, they communicated in English and they lived in... Tokyo!

By seven their child was fluent in Arabic, Dutch and Japanese and had a reasonable command of English.

Consistency would appear to be the key. Good luck!


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Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 13:34
Member (2003)
English to Albanian
+ ...
That is it, Berni Oct 15, 2007

Berni Armstrong wrote:

....I'd advise you to practice OPOL (One Parent One Language) with your husband speaking Arabic and you speaking German.


That is one of the best aproach to keeping alive the family languages. I am borne in Albania (in a Albanian-Itlian family), married to an Italian, we change country every 2-4 years.

Our kids go to an international school, where they are tought in English. When we are alone I speak only in Albanian, when my husband comes home we switch to Italian. Studies, reading and (unfortunately) also some times playing is done in English. When they go out to play is all in Russian and their nanny speaks to them just in russian.

Berni Armstrong wrote:
Then I presume your common tongue is English so your child will pick up that and finally let the French environment take care of the rest. .....

...By seven their child was fluent in Arabic, Dutch and Japanese and had a reasonable command of English.


For as much as I try to fix the priority list of the languages, it just doesn't work. As you say, the environment together with a misture of factors prevail. When we were in Romania, at the age of 3 and 5, the priority (expertise) languages list was: Albanian, Italian, Romanian, and before that, (young kids, practically) just Albabnian and Italian at the same level. Then we moved to Ukraine.

Now, after 4 years when they are 7 and 9, the priority (expertise) list is as follows: English, Italian, Albania, Russian. As you see, English is new in the list but is the strongest, though. They take Spanish as a second language in the shool and they were very temped by the Russian as well, but then decided for the Spanish. That cannot yet be added in the list, even though they are sure they speak it.

Berni Armstrong wrote:
Don't worry, kids survive and prosper in these situations.


Definitively! They do not seem to suffer at all. They even have fun with this situation. They are so open to languages, not only technically speaking, but as an attitude. I will never forget what they told me after a year that we were here. Tha nanny took them to the parc and I joined them after I closed the office. I saw the girls playing with a group of Ukrainian kids. Carried all in the car and when we got home I asked them: "So how did you understand the kids, in what language were they speaking?". Sara (almost 6 then) said: We were not speaking, we were playing!! I judt did not what to say. It did not have any sens to say to Sara "oh come one I heard you speaking, what did you say and how"!

Berni Armstrong wrote:
Consistency would appear to be the key. Good luck!


Very much so! Good luck!

Fabiana


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Mayy1006
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, but my mother tongue is English Oct 15, 2007

Berni Armstrong wrote:

I notice you translate into German - despite being from the UK. Does that mean you are a native German speaker? If so, I'd advise you to practice OPOL (One Parent One Language) with your husband speaking Arabic and you speaking German. Then I presume your common tongue is English so your child will pick up that and finally let the French environment take care of the rest.

Don't worry, kids survive and prosper in these situations. I was on a bilingual families mailing list where Dad was Arabic, Mum was Dutch, they communicated in English and they lived in... Tokyo!

By seven their child was fluent in Arabic, Dutch and Japanese and had a reasonable command of English.

Consistency would appear to be the key. Good luck!


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:34
Member
English
+ ...
So is the idea to keep the German the child has alive? Oct 15, 2007

If that is the case, then you'll need to set up some kind of social structure in which German is important for the child. For example, ensure a source of German speaking children are on hand (granted not too easy in many parts of France ). Or if your German is fluent switch to that in your one to one communication with your daughter. Though that might be odd if up to now you have only spoken to her in English and may lead to rejection.

Basically, you have to learn to juggle your aims and the practicalities of where you are, with her interest and desires. Often no easier than maintaining four balls in the air at once for an unskilled juggler.

One thing is certain about German and that is that it is the most easily available language on free to air satellite and there are a few kids' stations which will help you keep a minimum exposure to the language.

Finally, don't imagine she will lose her German completely even if you don't end up sending her to the German school. Languages seem to be filed away by the brain for future reference and if she is ever in a situation where German is needed the brain digs about in its loft and out comes the little used resource. In my case I remember all my forgotten schoolboy French surfacing when I first moved to Spain. My Spanish was then apalling and in attempting to communicate with the locals my brain would dig up vocabulary I had long forgotten in French. When I did eventually turn to learn French, it surfaced remarkably swiftly.

Good luck whichever decision you make and keep us posted, won't you.


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:34
Spanish to English
I understand your concerns but... Oct 15, 2007

I think the most important thing for a five-year-old is a school where she is happy and they will attend to building her social skills as well communicating a joy in learning.

That is hard enough to find, if it also happens to teach her through German, great, but if not, my priority would be the human quality of the school.


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