I wrote in my previous post about various toys, books, and CDs that might help kids to retain the German language they’ve acquired while living in Germany. The reason for my thinking of this topic was inspired by a conversation I had with Ann Belle of Belle NRW when she was getting ready to move her German-speaking Kindergarten-aged kids back to America. Six months later, she’s built on this list and added a number of concrete tips that are definitely worth sharing. Thank you, Ann, for generously sharing your resrouces with the German Way!
1) Search for a German playgroup or school of some sort. From my experience, I concur. If there is one, you will find it. Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but Germans are quite well organised about gathering regularly with some effective structure. I’ve seen it in Winchester, England, San Diego, California, Toronto, Canada, and now Ann has found it in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her kids go to a Saturday German school for a couple of hours a time.
2) Look for a German-speaking babysitter/au pair/nanny. German language summer camps is also an option.
3) Ann has also established her own deutsche KiTa mit Mama which are short sessions with her kids on a “should-be-daily-but-it’s-not basis.” The sessions involve singing a good morning song, talking about the weather, singing a song about feelings, then going over some vocabulary topics and reading a book or watching a YouTube video. She has a basket with a bunch of supplies and toys that they only use during this time and her kids have dedicated notebooks for these sessions. In her words, “I try not to have the teaching approach that you would have for adults, such as ‘In German this is “ja” and in English it’s “yes.” It’s more learning through doing.” She makes sure that they only speak in German during that time and that they are rewarded with a sticker at the end of each session and after a certain number of stickers, they get a toy.
4) In the car, Ann only listens to German music with the kids. (For recommendations, see my previous Learning German for Kids.) Ann has also uncovered a load of sources on the web that anyone with internet access can use:
- There are lots of YouTube channels for JoNaLu and Kikaninchen
- as well as German versions of popular American cartoons: Emily Erdbeer, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Little Einsteins plus Nick Jr. auf Deutsch.
- She also recommended the site ABCund123 which has original (non-translated) activities for preschoolers.
- For those starting from null, Ann recommends Little Pim.
- She also loads the MindSnacks German app and SWR2 Kinderlieder and KiRaKa Klicker podcasts, which are updated regularly, on her smart phone.
- She even found a site where you can download German children’s books for free.
5) The real gem is her own Deutsche Schule Pinterest board on tools that she’s found to help in teaching her kids German. She’s managed to find a bonanza of activities and resources that cover a range of vocabulary and concepts that will help any elementary learner of German, not just kids. I love the “Five German Things to Shout During the Football World Cup.”
Since my family and I are living in Germany, we don’t need these resources, but Ann’s wherewithal and search savvy has made me wonder if I can do something similar for my kids’ Korean. Thank you again, to Ann Belle of Belle NRW for sharing her knowledge and tips on how she’s helped her kids with their German. If you have any relevant suggestions or experiences, please comment below!