How can I help my child to learn German (or maintain it)?
* Read stories - Spielwelt has a great children's library, sorted by comprehension level, to help you.
* The ACT Public Library also has German books for children and adults (click that link to search their collection, from the comfort of your chair. If you are a member of the ACT Public Library (it's free), you can order books online, and then just collect them from the reserved shelving when you go to the library - which makes a visit to the library with young children MUCH easier!).
* There are also German books for children and adults at Das Zentrum in Civic.
* You can also order books, CDs and DVDs from eBay, or Amazon in Germany.
* Sign up for the free newsletters, order books, games, CDs or DVDs from the wonderfully inspiring German bilingual support agency, the Alphabet Garten.
* Listen to CDs - music or stories. These are also available at the Spielwelt library.
* Watch German language videos / DVDs. Some families have a rule that they only watch TV or videos in German.
* Download German children's television programs (and a few for yourself!) using the German Online TV Recorder.
* Talk to them in German as much as possible. You will find that speaking to your children in German outside the home will bring you in contact with other German speakers in the community - which will further help your children learn German.
* Download Alphabet Garten's excellent e-book called Parenting auf Deutsch, which lists a couple of hundred of the most common things you say to children throughout the day, in German (and English). I recommend you also join the Alphabet Garten, and get any updates to this wonderful resource, and get their free e-newsletters which will inspire and support you.
* Put the German radio program on (Bretzelfunk Thursday mornings 7-9am on 91.1FM, or any of the other German radio shows) in the background, even if kids don't understand it, they will get a feel for the language.
* Play German CDs in the car and at home (even if they are adult oriented - just to give the children the lilt and feel of the language, which all helps)
* Make signs for the furniture in your home, with the German names on them to remind yourselves: Der Tisch (the table), der Kuehlschrank (the fridge) and so on. Kids can help to decorate the signs.
* Whether you speak a smattering of German or only English at home, you can download the GAP Sign Language posters, and start using the sign language together with either the German or the English words, in your day to day activities with your child. Eventually, your child will understand what is meant when only the German word and the sign are presented (as they are at the GAP) - with no need for an English translation. This is an excellent way for the brain to make a direction connection with comprehension and the German word, without the need for an internal translation to English.
* Hire a German speaking babysitter. Email the Spielwelt address for a list of German speaking babysitters in Canberra, including some of our wonderfully qualified teaching staff.
* Get a German speaking nanny. You can even get one with a wealth of knowledge, culture and childrearing experience, through an innovative program called Granny Aupair.
* Sign up for Dr Susanne Doepke's free newsletter, Bilingual Snippets.
* See Dr Doepke's Bilingual Options website for information about supporting your child's language learning at home. She is also a speech therapist, so if you have questions about bilingualism and language delay or other speech queries, her newsletters are a wonderful resource. Back issues are available on the website, too.
How to further support fluent children 5yrs plus (ie from bilingual homes):
* Join Pfadfinder Scouts (more info on this webpage)
* Continue to meet with German friends
* Listen to German CDs
* Watch German DVDs
* Download German television, There are some great kids programs with highly educational themes, that are lots of fun: Try TanzAlarm, WOW Entdeckerzone, Loewenzahn, for starters. There is Pippi Langstrumpf, Bibi Bloxberg, Bibi und Tina, Clifford, Madeleine all for fun, too; and much more, of course. Thomas the Tank Engine in German is too complex for a learner, but Bob der Baumeister is sure to please. Lars der Eisbaer is also a lovely series of gentle, friendly episodes for young children. If you can catch little episodes of Sandmaennchen, you'll really be feeling German, as that's been running for years!
* Enrol at the ACT German Language School for Saturday morning classes (children and adults).
* Some families make sure that everything that's fun for children is done in German, as much as possible: TV, videos, computer games, electronic games, Scouts, friends....
* Leapster makes a German version of this popular hand-held electronic game, with many popular games in German. You need a German hand-held unit (look for one on eBay.de or purchase one overseas) for the German game cartridges to work. The games are reasonably educational.
* More info on all of these in our webpage, under the Other Schools & Playgroups links on the left-hand menu bar.
How to support learner children 5yrs plus:
* See the list above about what to do at home.
* Join Pfadfinder Scouts (medium comprehension levels minimum; and subject to 5 fluent:1 learner ratio of children in Scout group... BUT we are taking expressions of interest for a German-Learner Scout group, so please let us know if you would be interested in that group).
* Check the list of how to support fluent children (above), too.