Back Home With a Bilingual Boy: Vienna 2015

JSB's MS/HS in old town Vienna

JSB’s MS/HS in old town Vienna

This Saturday I’ll take my five-year-old son to Vienna, the city of my youth and still the one in which I feel most at home. Although I always speak German to my kids, the upcoming trip has made for extra-fun German interactions. Already a decent English reader, the boy has wanted to practice reading German, study maps of Vienna together, and talk about stuff I did there when I was his age. He’s asked questions like “Do all the five-year-old kids in Austria speak German?” and (amused at the thought) “What if I come back and don’t know English anymore?!”

Besides the sheer joy of father-son time and the intersection of our childhoods, I’m excited to see the ongoing effects of the trip and how the trip expands his experience of German.

Are you bilingual or raising someone bilingual? What do you enjoy about it? What do you hope to do to keep it up?

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  1. It can be so difficult to work with another language while steeped in an English environment. My mother didn’t teach us Spanish, and I have a friend who is struggling with this very thing as well. I was admiratione affectus when I saw you interacting with your kids so easily in German. Utinam mater mea ita nobiscum egisset! Taking him to a non-English speaking culture, at such a young age, is such a wonderful idea, and I cannot doubt so much more lasting than, say, going to amusement parks.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Jason. It sounds similar to that of many people I talk to whose parents chose not to speak a heritage language with them. I’m glad you’ve found fulfilling opportunities for language acquisition as an adult!

      By the way, I took my kids to the amusement park this week, too–trying to get the best of both worlds!

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