Achtung Baby Or Success At Last!

29/04/2011 23:35 | Updated 22 May 2015
Achtung Baby or Success at last!PA

If you are trying to raise your child bilingually and constantly battling with how best to achieve your goal, take heart. You will get there eventually.

That, right there, is a statement I was convinced I would never be able to make, at least not with conviction. Finje has been playing psychological mind games with me since her birth, and, in fairness, mostly winning.

From day one I've spoken English with her. Granted, during the up-every-three-hours-in-the-night-period she may not have been audience to the very best of Queen's English, but nevertheless, English it was. Her replies came, consistently in German.

Despite my best efforts, her first word was not mama or papa. Finje's very first intelligible utterance? "Auto".

"Oh yes", I encouraged as she pointed at cars, "very good, C.A.R. car, car"

"Auto", she repeated, over and over.

And so it continued. Certain aspects of having a German only speaking daughter were advantageous though. I prefer being called mama. More exotic than mummy! Also, in the UK, I was entertained by the confused faces on those who overheard our conversations. As I spoke to her in English, she replied in German and many must have thought we had some kind of secret language. Occasionally, certain comments had me considerably relieved that few people in the UK could understand her.

In spite of dubiousness on my part, a month in Australia seems to have helped Finje turn a linguistic corner. After the first week there were hints of a change. With the passing of time and the visitation of countless playgrounds, she began, quite suddenly, to seamlessly interchange between English and German.

I was over the moon. Ecstatic. The moment I heard her speaking English for the very first time I could hardly believe my ears. I swelled with pride. My girl, chatting away effortlessly with yet another "new best friend" on the playground as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Where did that come from? Why now? Would it last? Who cares? Über-proud tears swam in my eyes and I couldn't resist it any longer. I called her over and took her into my arms.

"Finje, you are speaking English! That's so cool. I'm so proud of you."

"No I'm not!" she insisted, quite adamant and struggling to free herself.

"Yes you are! You're speaking it now, with me."


Not such a Eureka moment for her then.


Achtung Baby
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