German Restaurant Review: Kuby’s in Dallas, TX

My husband and I took PTO yesterday and today, so yesterday we went to Kuby’s Sausage House and European Market in Dallas, Texas. It’s in a shopping plaza not too far from SMU. As you approach the market, even before you see the sign, the building’s German-looking exterior is a dead giveaway that you’ve arrived at Kuby’s.

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Kuby’s is both a European market and a German restaurant, so it offers all the traditional German cuisine you’d imagine eating there: wursts, schnitzels, sauerkraut, cabbage, potato salad and more. In my opinion, German food doesn’t look appetizing. It’s hard to make a bratwurst or schnitzel appear Instagram-worthy. Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.56.18 AM

That being said, our meal was hearty, delicious and inexpensive. In fact, we liked it so much that we’re going back today and taking our son, nephew and mother/mother-in-law.

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As you can see above, the menu has a few German words and phrases, most of which I can understand even without the translation provided (e.g., Spezialitaeten des Haus, Kinder Teller, etc.). I wish more of it had been in German, but alas, we’re not in Germany. There’s more German on signage inside the restaurant, so today I plan to be more observant and absorb more of the language within.

For a family-owned business that’s been around since 1728, Kuby’s provided a pleasant and unique cultural experience. If you’re visiting or local to Dallas, swing by for dinner or simply a treat!

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Buckling Down and Learning the Language

You know what’s fun, easy and addictive? Reading articles, watching videos, and listening to podcasts about language learning but not actually buckling down and learning the language. I’m guilty of this.

Studying about the language learning process is enthralling. Learning new memory techniques, study methods, and shortcuts can entertain me for hours. Those are hours, though, that I’m not putting toward my end goal of learning German.

This weekend, I resolve to keep my language research (learning about language learning) and my language study (learning the German language) at about 50/50. The former keeps me motivated and inspired. The latter keeps me progressing forward in being able to communicate in my target language. Maybe another research-t0-study ratio works better for you, and that’s OK. Being self aware and staying on track toward your specific language learning goals is key.

Hab ein schönes Wochenende. Und viel Glück in your language journey!

I Gave Up Facebook to Learn a Language

If you struggle with having enough time to learn a language, it’s time to assess how you’re spending your day. If you’re working three jobs, taking care of an elderly parent, and raising children, I understand that you may not have the time, or the mental energy, to learn a new language.

For the rest of us, though, a busy schedule is no excuse for not learning a language. If you’re really serious about language learning, you’ll find a way to better prioritize your time.

As a new mom with a full-time job in 2015, I knew I’d need to give up something in order to add language learning into my day. It was then that I decided to give up Facebook. I had joined Facebook in 2005 as a freshman at the University of Arkansas. For 10 years, I was active on there — posting, commenting, sharing, liking, poking, and so forth.

Over time, the value of Facebook in my life began to level off and then decline. Using Facebook wasn’t helping me grow as a person, so it was only natural that I break up with Facebook in order to start my relationship with language learning.

I quit Facebook in 2015 for the purpose of replacing the time I’d spent on there with my new hobby, learning German. Today, I have a Facebook account and log in almost daily, but I only have two “friends” on there, and I mainly follow pages related to language learning.

If language learning is a goal of yours — or perhaps a 2017 New Year’s resolution that you haven’t started yet — my question to you is this: What will you give up to make this dream happen?

Feel free to leave a comment about what you’ve sacrificed in order to learn a language (or embark on any other type of dream, journey or goal). I’m curious to know!

Post in German: Heute ist Rosenmontag

In German:

Heute ist Rosenmontag. Mein Sohn hat sein Elefantenkostüm getragen. Das Rosenmontagthema war Zirkus. Morgen ist Faschingsdienstag. Mein Sohn wird seinen Elefantenkostüm wieder anziehen.

In English:

Today is Rosenmontag. My son wore his elephant costume. The Rosenmontag theme was a circus. Tomorrow is Carnival Day. My son will put on his elephant costume again.
Corrections in German made by a Lang-8 user.

100-Word Book Review: 101 German Verbs: The Art of Conjugation

If you’re a beginner German learner, grab a copy of  101 German Verbs: The Art of Conjugation. I got mine at Half Price Books, but it’s also available on Amazon. Each page highlights a different verb with a corresponding graphic that depicts, and even artistically spells out, the verb. With so many vocabulary books lacking pictures, 101 German Verbs stands out from the rest.

In addition to the graphical representation of each verb, each page lists out that verb’s conjugation in an easy-to-read table. The vibrant colors and the quirky photos make verb study fun and the actual verbs, easy to remember. It’s almost as if you’re reading a comic book instead of flipping through yet another boring verb guide.

Other books in the 101 Language Series:

101 Spanish Verbs: The Art of Conjugation
101 French Verbs: The Art of Conjugation
101 Italian Verbs: The Art of Conjugation

Catch me on Instagram at @YearofGerman to see more of my language learning journey.

German International School of Dallas Announces Inaugural Kindergarten Class

Guten Tag! Here’s a press release I wrote for German International School of Dallas‘ upcoming kindergarten program. I thought I’d share it on my blog too.

German International School of Dallas Announces Inaugural Kindergarten Class

German International School of Dallas

Enrollment is open for the 2017-2018 dual-immersion language program

Dallas, TX, February 23, 2017 — German International School of Dallas is proud to announce the launch of its first-ever kindergarten class, beginning in August for the 2017-2018 school year.

The English and German dual-immersion kindergarten program is designed to meet the Texas Essentials Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards while following the German pedagogical framework of the “Bayerischer Bildungs- und Erziehungsplan fuer Kinder in Tageseinrichtungen.”

The German ISD kindergarten program will be led by a team of two teachers, one who will speak only in English and the other who will speak only in German. Commonly referred to as the “one person, one language approach,” this method of bilingual education allows children to associate each teacher with that teacher’s respective language. As a result, language learning happens congruently, naturally and spontaneously.

Since 2008, German ISD has provided full-time, weekday language instruction to children ages 18 months to five years. Currently, a record number of more than 65 students are enrolled in the school.

“We are seeing more of a demand for multicultural and multilingual education than ever before in the Dallas area,” said Michaela Ward, Director of German ISD. “It only makes sense to expand our existing program to include a kindergarten class, and we’re very excited about its inaugural year.”

Enrollment is now open for German ISD’s dual-immersion kindergarten program. Visit German-ISD.org to learn more.

About German International School of Dallas

German International School of Dallas, founded in 2008, is a nonprofit language immersion program for preschool-aged children in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. German ISD provides a learning environment deeply rooted in the central European culture and education system while facilitating a global perspective.

How to Raise a Bilingual Child in a Monolingual Household: What We’re Doing

Today, more than ever, I’m running across more parents who are interested in raising their children bilingual. The challenge for many of these families is that they only speak one language, English.

So how do you raise a bilingual child in a monolingual household? Is it even possible?

Every family is different, but here are six steps we’re taking to raise our son bilingual despite neither my husband nor I being fluent (or anywhere close to fluent) in another language:

1. Taking advantage of our city’s language immersion preschool.

The advantage of living in a large city like Dallas is that there are several immersion preschools in the area. I know of Spanish preschools, a French preschool, a Mandarin preschool, and of course our beloved German preschool.

Because both my husband and I work outside of the home, childcare is a critical part of our lives. My line of thinking is that if my child needs childcare anyway, he might as well get an experience enriched beyond anything his dad or I would be able to provide. For us, that’s a language immersion experience.

2. Learning the language on our own.

If you’re a monolingual parent whose child is learning a second language, whether through family or friends, a bilingual nanny or babysitter, or a language immersion preschool, one of the best ways to connect with your child during his or her bilingual journey is to learn the language yourself.

Through the internet, there are hundreds of tools to help you get started. If you have no prior experience with a language, I recommend starting with Duolingo because it’s free, and it’s actually fun too. I started learning German using Duolingo and then later went through the Pimsleur series, which I couldn’t recommend more. Today, I use many different resources — books, apps, videos, podcasts and blogs — to learn German. I’m easily bored, so I need variety to stay motivated and progressing.

3. Playing with bilingual flashcards at home.

No aspiring bilingual household would be complete without a deck of great bilingual flashcards. Lil’ollo makes some of the best I’ve seen — and in a half dozen languages beyond the standard French and German. They have sets for colors, numbers, animals and more.

I picked up an additional set of German farm-themed kids’ flashcards at my local Half Price Books a few months ago. They aren’t as pretty as Lil’ollo’s, but they are also a solid set of flashcards. When it comes to flashcards, I say the more, the better!

4. Watching YouTube videos in our target language.

As I’m typing this on my computer, my child is watching my favorite German kids’ video on my phone:

I try to minimize my son’s screen time, but I’m a modern mama with a high spirited toddler, so for sanity’s sake, we do watch some videos, mostly of Jeeps, monster trucks, and German kids’ songs. There’s no shame in consuming some educational YouTube content every now and then to give yourself a short parenting break.

5. Speaking in our target language at home.

I’m far from fluent. And though my toddler knows and speaks German well at preschool, he prefers to use English at home. I don’t let these barriers stand in the way of speaking words and phrases, here and there, at home. I may say one sentence in English and switch to German for the next sentence.

My limited German may not always be 100% spot-on, but that’s also OK. What’s important, in my opinion, is continual exposure, and as far as perfection is concerned, I believe in following the 80/20 rule.

6. Documenting our journey on this blog and social media.

Languages are social in nature, and what better way to socialize a monolingual-to-bilingual transformation than by documenting the journey on a blog and social media? If you haven’t seen my Instagram account yet, feel free to check it out and connect at @YearofGerman.

If you’re on a bilingual journey of your own, I’d love to follow you as well! Please leave a comment and let me know where to find you on social media.