Language REFRESH 101 – Week Eight

by Corey · 4 comments

Ok, you asked for it!

Many of you wrote me demanding… er, just kidding…. asking nicely that I do the next Language Refresh 101 video in German. Did you know what you were getting yourself into? I will not take responsibility if you cry in pain from my destruction of the German language.

Yes, I know, I am exaggerating (a bit) but it is still very hard for me to do a video in German since I feel self conscious in front of all of you. I can chat away in German with my kids in front of strangers who don’t know me one iota. But in front of you… well, you are like family! I’m feeling very shy about this.

However, since you asked and since I figure I can’t ask you to send in your videos if I can’t do my own, then here it goes…

Corey’s Video Diary in German – Hold Your Ears!

For those of you who don’t speak German, I am thanking all of you for your encouragement last week – DANKE – and just chatting about a variety of things. One thing I don’t want you to miss is It is a fantastic free website with German language activities for more advanced learners. I also explain (a bit) about how & where I learned German, plus some other general ramblings.

Code-Switching Children!
The other day an associate professor from the Netherlands and I had a wonderful chat on Facebook after she posted a great video of children code-switching. Oh how I enjoy watching children code-switch! It is such a lovely dance! (And oh how I enjoy chatting with people around the world in the middle of the night – so fun!)

I realized immediately that I recognized the family in the video! The mother was a regular contributor to Multilingual Living Magazine. Here is that fantastic video:

This video is from a while back. You should definitely check out the others on their YouTube page!

My Bilingual Children – German & English #1 & #2
My kids are shy. Really shy. Most people who know me are amazed that my kids are so shy since I can be a bit of a chatterbox. (However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel shy inside!) So, I was delighted last night when my kids started chatting about the Star Wars vehicles that they had built and agreed to do so on camera! Wow, what a big step!

What I like the most about these videos are the fascinating bilingualism aspects:

  • When my kids speak with one another, they speak in English, yet easily switch to German when speaking with me.
  • Notice that when my son described his vehicle, he speaks in German yet uses primarily English vocabulary for the different parts even though he is speaking in German.
  • My kids don’t care one bit whether they are using an English or German word. They don’t feel embarrassed and they don’t worry that they are mixing. However, if I were to ask them, they would know whether an individual word was German or English.
  • I am fairly certain that each of my children chooses (consciously and unconsciously) whether they want to use German or English words in a sentence, no matter which language he/she is speaking at the time. My kids have told me that this is the case and I notice that they do know more vocabulary in one language or another than they sometimes let on. For example, when we are with other German-speaking kids, they magically use far more German words. I respect this since it is their way of having  mastery over their language on their own terms.
  • Despite the fact that they do choose words from one language or another, I believe that part of their decision depends on how much exposure they have had to vocabulary in a given topic in each language. It just comes more naturally to speak about Star Wars in English since that is the language they use to read about it, and it is more comfortable to talk about Harry Potter in German since my husband reads these books to them each day.

Your Videos!
As I said in my video diary, I hope you will send me links to videos of your multilingual children speaking! And if you have some but don’t have a place to show them, please let me know since I’d be happy to put them on the Multilingual Living YouTube page with comments from you!

Now that my kids have finally realized that it is fun to watch themselves on the videos after I have recorded them, I will hopefully be able to get more. Make sure to subscribe to the Multilingual Living YouTube page to be notified whenever new videos are uploaded.

Each week my children and I will share our experiences strengthening German (one of my children’s first languages and my second language) in our Language REFRESH 101 posts and videos. Come join us by signing up at the Multilingual Living Forum to refresh any language!

If you are interested in learning a brand new language, check out our Language Challenge 101 posts and then head over to the Bilingual Families Perth site to join their Language Challenge 101 which is taking place right now!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, in German and English.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim April 27, 2011 at 2:54 am

Wow – your German sounds lovely, Corey (-;


2 Colleen April 28, 2011 at 1:36 am

The code switching video is really cute, loved it!


3 Jefferson April 28, 2011 at 5:41 am

Just saw your German video and just want to tell you how personal and genuine it felt!


4 Gina April 28, 2011 at 8:38 am

Ha, ha. My family and I code switch all the time between Spanish and English. At family gatherings it drives my husband crazy. LOL We do it and don’t even notice it.


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