Tuesday, 11 August 2009

bilingual babes and books

We've been having fun on our way home from the childminder recently:

Cubling: Postbox, over there! I see postbox!
Me: Ja, ein Briefkasten!
Cubling: No, Postbox!
Me: Das ist ein Briefkasten.
Cubling: No!, is postbox!
Me: Auf Deutsch ist das ein Briefkasten, auf Englisch postbox. Das ist ein Briefkasten.
Cubling: Briefkasten. Enlis postbox.

Cubling: Digger! I see digger!
Me: Ja, da ist ein Bagger!
Cubling: No, digger!
Me: Das ist ein Bagger!
Cubling: No! is digger!
Me: Auf Deutsch ist das ein Bagger, auf Englisch digger. Beides ist richtig. Das ist ein Bagger.
Cubling: Bagger. Enlis digger.

Repeat for any other item spotted en route.

One issue that has been coming up again and again is that of reading books. Cubling loves her books at bedtime, the only time when she will sit still, and we also read books before naptime. In general, as we have a rough one parent one language approach, I try and read only German books and hubby reads both English and German books. However, sometimes Cubling insists on an English book and I just don't know what to do. Shall I read it in English? Shall I try to translate as I go along? The latter has a serious negative effect on the fun element, I'm not a good simultaneous translator, even for simple children's book (which aren't all that simple if they rhyme or have very strange adjectives which I just don't know in German - crunching munching anyone? bumpy?) and I start to stammer, sigh and generally not add the usual fun bits to the story.

So I read in English. To be precise, I try to entice Cubling to pick German books for our bedtime read. However, she knows what she wants and will pick just THAT (English) book from the shelf. And there's no chance I can translate The Gruffalo on the go.

There are some solutions to this dilemma. Julia Donaldson, being fluent in German herself and fully published in German, has her books in German on offer. I resist getting two books of the same kind though, you can take bilingualism one step to far. There are some bilingual books, in fact the market for English-Spanish and English-French is quite well equipped. If you stray away from these popular combinations, it gets difficult.

There is one German publisher offering bilingual books, including German-English. By browsing other blogs for the upcoming Bilingual Children's Blogging Carnival, I found some more resources, but still not an awful lot of what I'm really looking for. I mean, I'm very tempted to go down the trilingual route and adding Spanish to the equation http://www.bilingualreaders.com/ because above all I love Spanish, but how about seeing the German thing through first. I love the site though, and they actually publish bilingual books!

Keeping on the Spanish-English theme, La Tiendita http://astore.amazon.com/spangl-20 offers a store on Amazon which brings together books for the bilingual family for this language pair. I fancy doing something like this for German-English, and if I do, will put it up on this site. I have no idea how this is done, but having spent the best part of today figuring out how to publish, distribute and market my A Hat in Time book (not having made a decision yet of course, that would be way too easy), I'm in the mood for learning even more about the wonderful web. Back to German-English stuff, I came across a company, Mehrsprachig Aufwachsen, that produces materials in a few languages, among them DVDs and CDs.

There are some amazing children's books on the German market, as there are amazing books on the English market. And it'll be a worthwhile project pulling them together in such a virtual store. So then. There's a new project for me. Of course there is still a much bigger project in the making, which will bring an amazing bilingual, German-English toddler book to you. Just that you'll have to wait a wee while for that, but once it's done, it'll be oh so fab.

And for anyone interested in taking part in the bilingual blogging carnival, please send me your favourite post on raising children bilingually to blog at cartside dot co dot uk by 30th August.


smashedpea said...

Heh, have you been listening in on conversations with my toddler (he just turned 2)?? We have a similar routine, just that he's too darn stubborn to repeat words in both languages. Sometimes this is good - his absolute favourite word is Bagger and he continues to use it even when his big sister admonishes him and tells him that this is really a digger. Unfortunately, this also works the other way around....

And I hear you about reading to the kidlet(s) in the 'other' language.... For the little one, I still translate everything into German and make words up as I go along ('cause really, how do you translate munch munch crunch crunch??), so it ends up a bit different every time. He doesn't care though.

My older one (just turned 4) knows my preference for German books and my propensity to translate English ones - so she now sometimes begs me to read English books in English and spare her the translation. And then I usually cave in....

If you ever figure out the trick to all of this, please do let me know :)

Mwa said...

Oh, I think I might just be brave and try to get a post on that ready before then. I am after all another expert by experience.

cartside said...

Smashed Pea: We're back to bagger again, yeah. Thing is, bagger was weeelll before digger, and because it's all in the context of teasing me (she calles me auntie S to tease me, and I'm sure she says digger to test me), it seems like she's taking me on.

Mwa, yes please, do! Would be lovely!

Sinclair said...

Thanks for the visit to my blog and the link...I'm glad you liked it. I love the photo of the red post box. Ours here in the US are blue and boring and never ornate. I so enjoyed a trip we took to Denmark and Sweden where we were able to post mail in red boxes!



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