Day 1 on a 9 month project


Today marks the day of conception! I know what you are thinking. Baby #4 in the making? No! Nooooooooo!!!

Today, my children start their weekly German tutoring!  They have until mid June 2014 to get a head start! That’s roughly 9 months! I have searched hi & low, tried different techniques involving games, apps, bribery etc. etc. I even contacted the local German Language School without any immediate success. Now finally, things seem to fall into place.

When we returned from visiting family in Germany in July I was DETERMINED!!! to have Isaiah & Seda learn enough German until the next summer to be able to communicate with my mother, my aunts, my friends, well with anybody! My initial plan was to create a curriculum and spend 2 or 3 afternoon – one hour each – playing games with my kids, learning basic sentence structure, reading books about Germany and thus igniting a fire in them. It only seemed to spark an interest in my daughter. My son, who is now nine, had absolutely no interest whatsoever. I was mostly concerned about him picking it up rather quickly because he’ll be going to 4th grade next year. That’s when he really needed to be mastering any language. The whole basic sight word method doesn’t fly there anymore. I remember fourth grade back in 1985 or 1986… It was getting touch. No more child’s play. I am sure it’s truer today where all schools are putting more pressure on children’s academic success.

In the back of my mind I always thought that the International School in Hamburg would be our refuge but after researching it and looking at the cost structure I got a pretty harsh reality check. Over 10,000 Euro in tuition each year in addition to other costs!! Also, how could I send one and not the other to this fancy school? That would double the cost which made it nearly impossible to even consider. Back to square one.

So I did what I usually do when I don’t know what to do – I googled it! It never even crossed my mind that there would be German schools here in Dallas/Fort Worth. I found the Dallas Goethe Center. Strike! That gave me hope. They had tailor made classes for each age group but … only on Saturdays! Dang it! Saturday is dedicated to soccer around here. It’s almost religious to us. I couldn’t possibly take that away from them could I? Next best option was to see if anyone at that school would be willing to privately tutor these two. Knowing that this would be an expensive undertaking but very convenient (they’d come to us!) and also more efficient (since time was ticking!!) we went for it! We met with the director, Barbara, and one of her teachers. After agreeing to all the contract terms and the pricing unfortunately the teacher she had in mind for us couldn’t commit to driving almost an hour each way in rush hour traffic to our house twice a week. What a bummer! I couldn’t believe it! Again weeks and weeks passed without any progress. No teacher’s available to teach at that rate! Dang, did they check the minimum wage in the US lately? This was quadruple the price that any Target employee would get.

Barbara knew how important and time-sensitive this was for us so she generously gave me the name of their competitor here in DFW. I had no idea that there was another school in the area. How exciting! I immediately contacted the German School of Dallas. I got a response the same day. Someone would actually tutor my children – but – at their house – not ours! Aaaand … she lived 45 minute car ride away – on toll roads!! Nevertheless, we met her last Wednesday and agreed to start our weekly (not bi-weekly!) classes today – Friday, October 11!!! She’ll be teaching both kids together at her home. Sabrina, our new German tutor, teaches on Saturdays at the German School of Dallas and is a certified in Germany as an Elementary School teacher.  A match made in heaven I’d say minus the distance of course. It’s all going to be worth it I am sure. My children get to taste the sweetness of being bilingual. Heck, they get to communicate with their ‘Oma’ for the first time. That alone justifies the expense!

I think that speaking more than your mother-tongue is – next to reading and writing – one of the biggest things I can give my children. I should know. I speak five different languages. It helped me in every area of my life from making friends, applying for jobs, traveling etc. etc. Hey, my English got me a husband after all! 🙂

I keep my fingers crossed that my children already have a seed planted in them from when they were babies and I exclusively spoke German to them. Until they started making American friends. Today, I am even more determined to keep it up with Stella, my one year old. This is going to benefit her and us in the long run. For one, we wouldn’t have to fork out hundreds of dollars for it! Instead, she could be taking piano lessons or something with that money!

I am going to post progress reports (every nine-weeks maybe :-)). I hope that you’ll be inspired to teach your children a second (or third!) language, too.

Auf Wiedersehen!! (Excuse me while I head over to the couch to watch last night’s episode of Project Runway!) 🙂

P.S. Pictures are from our Berlin visit back in 2009. (1) Our favorite German snack. (2)  Reichtagsgebaeude. (3) Brandenburger Tor

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