Before school ended, I came across a post on Multilingual Living (a great resource for multilingual families, if you’re not familiar with it!). The contributor wrote about her summer experiment: NO ENGLISH BOOKS! Well, at least for the summer. She packed them up and stored them in the guest room, so her kids had only German books to read all summer long.
Now, her boys are older than mine – 9 and 7 compared to mine at 6 and 3. My older son is a good reader in English, though, and my little one loves to be read to. So I decided to try out her experiment.
I thought my kids would revolt when all the English books disappeared on the last day of school! Well, they didn’t entirely disappear…. They were packed up in boxes, but the boxes never made it out of the hall where we have our bookcases, between the boys’ rooms:
I even took it one step further and packed up the English DVDs. Alas, I couldn’t pack up YouTube and all the marble run videos my kids like to watch! In the car, we had only German music and stories.
So how did it go??
Well, we made it through the whole summer … almost. I finally gave in with just over a week to go before school starts. But the boys went along with my experiment!
I’m not sure that I saw an improvement in their German. But then, we didn’t work much on actually speaking German this summer. Tja. We’re still working on it! Still, I’m pleased with all the exposure they got.
We also kept the Dutch books out, so my husband had something to read at bedtime. The only trick was what to do when we had a babysitter or my mom putting the boys to bed, since they only speak English! I think my mom managed Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) in German, since she’s heard it so many times! And Hippo helped her 🙂
I think the most successful part of the experiment for us was listening to German in the car. I have a CD of Eric Carle stories. They are not too long, about 7 minutes each. It was by far the most requested playlist in the car all summer!
We also have a CD called Nimmersatt Singspiel by Viktor Christen, but I can’t find it anywhere online now. Froggy loved singing along with the somewhat quirky musical adaptation of the story!
Now that school is about to start, I have started opening up the boxes of English books. Froggy was so happy to have his Kids First Big Book of Space back 🙂
However, we also made a deal. My husband and I take turns putting the boys to bed (and then our au pair gets one night a week while we go out on a date night!), so I have 3 bedtimes each week. And we agreed that one of those nights would be a German night. So the experiment continues….