What I’m Pondering Today: Parenting Lessons from Other Countries and Cultures

I’m a book reader, but I purposely don’t read parenting books. My child is so atypical that I’ve been turned off by the one-size-fits-all methodology I’ve found in most parenting how-to guides.

That being said, I’m intrigued by parenting styles of other countries and cultures outside the United States. Maybe that’s because I think that contemporary American parenting leaves something to be desired.

From what I’ve read here, here and here and observed from the caregivers at my child’s German immersion school, German parenting norms align closely with my own philosophies on raising kids:

  • Emphasis on being outside and playing
  • Deemphasis on traditional classroom education, especially in the early years
  • Prioritization of values like responsibility, self reliance and independence
  • Support of green and natural parenting

(I knew I belonged in Germany!)

I have not read any of the books below but am curious to know if my blog readers have. Please leave a comment and let me know! If you have others to suggest, feel free to share those as well.

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting & Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting

French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting

The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids

Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between)

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Where I Buy Our Bilingual Children’s Books

No matter the language you’re learning, finding bilingual books can be a challenge. Sure, there’s Amazon. But when you factor in the cost and time of international shipping, if there’s a better outlet for bilingual books, I’m all for it.

Fortunately, I’ve found one: Half Price Books. In the Dallas area, there are multiple Half Price Books locations, and every one I’ve been to has not only Spanish books (the most spoken language in this area besides English) but German, French, Russian, Arabic and Dutch books too. I’m sure there are other languages available as well, but when I visit Half Price Books, I’m only scanning for German books.

The great thing about Half Price Books is that the books are very inexpensive, usually only between $2 and $6 apiece. Also, Half Price Books is constantly in my inbox with coupons for discounts ranging from 15% to 50% off.

I probably buy too many German books for my son, who’s not even a huge fan of reading at this stage. However, the German kids’ books are learning tools for me as well because of the simple sentences and vocabulary. It’s rare to find a German children’s book that I understand fully without the use of my German-English dictionary.

If you’re looking for bilingual children’s books, check out Half Price Books. You may be surprised by the wide selection!

My Son’s First Semester at German Preschool: A Success!

Yesterday at 5 p.m., I picked up my son and breathed a sigh of relief. His first semester at his German preschool was over, and it was a success.

I grew up in a household where my mom was fortunate to not have to work outside the home. She stayed home as a homemaker and took care of my siblings and me. It was a great arrangement, and I’m thankful that the cards fell that way for our family.

For my husband and me, things are a little different. We both have to work, and I love working anyway. It’s healthier for me to not be a homemaker, and it’s also good for my son because he gets opportunities – like a bilingual education and socialization – that I couldn’t give him on my own. The only downside? The constant sickness. But I’m hoping that my little guy’s immune system will keep getting stronger and stronger.

I’m so proud of my son. He’s come a long way from those first few tearful weeks when he started his new school. Now, his teachers say he’s talking in complete German sentences, and morning drop-offs aren’t nearly as bad anymore.

Enrolling my toddler in a bilingual immersion program has been one of the best decisions for our family. I encourage anyone looking for daycare or preschool programs to consider a bilingual preschool.

My Favorite Podcast about Language Learning (And It’s Not Even German Related)

Some people anxiously await new episodes of their favorite shows. For me, I get pumped for the release of new podcast episodes.

I’m really into podcasts, and my current favorite is Breaking Español, described as “one family’s honest journey into learning Spanish.”

Like me, the hosts of Breaking Español, Ben and Jennie Sullins, also have a toddler. But instead of teaching their son German, as I am, they’re immersing themselves in the Spanish language. Ben and Jennie are way ahead of the curve because they’ve taken language classes and have more opportunities within their community to interact with native Spanish speakers. They also frequently travel to countries where Spanish is spoken, which gives them a great advantage in the language learning game.

What I love about this podcast is that this couple keeps it real. They stumble over words and laugh about it. They constructively correct each other. They hold each other accountable. They share fun stories and describe how they’re making this project work with their young son. They inspire and motivate me to keep at it in my own language learning journey – albeit with a different language.

If you’re into podcasts, check this one out. There’s a new episode every Tuesday, but until next Tuesday rolls around, listen to the archives. This is a fairly new podcast, so you can catch up pretty quickly.

Tschüss!

3 German YouTube Channels I’m Watching Lately

For the past few months, YouTube has been my favorite resource for learning German. There are some incredible German language teachers on that platform – and three channels have particularly captured my attention:

Learn German with Ania

Ania’s personality is so fun, lively and contagious that even my toddler is captivated by her videos (well, the intros at least). This girl makes the German language seem much simpler than it really is. I think that Ania and I would be good friends in real life.

Learn German with Herr Antrim

This guy is quirky, and I love it. He’ll sing children’s songs in one video, and in the next, he’ll talk as if he’s teaching a college course. I don’t think he’s a native German speaker, but he’s got the language down 100%, and I always enjoy learning from him. He’s got some good tricks up his sleeve.

Easy German

With Easy German, you get a quality dose of German culture along with the language. The host walks the streets and asks fellow Germans their thoughts and feelings on the Thema of the day. I like to cover up the English subtitles and see how much I can understand of the combination of spoken and written German.

Keep in mind that these are the YouTube channels I watch because I want to. My son has his own set of German YouTube videos. His videos started off as intriguing to me but have now been overplayed (and I’m over them!). I’ll share them in a future post, however, because they may help other parents and kids who are just starting their German language learning journeys.

Tschüss!

Why “Year of German” and the New Blog?

In November 2015, I started learning German using Duolingo. In early 2016, I worked my way through the Pimsleur CDs on my daily commute to and from work. In 2017, I’m not sure what I’ll do yet, learning-wise. I do know I need to scale it up, make a plan and hold myself accountable.

This blog is a great opportunity to do all of that.

German is a hard language. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made over the past year, but I have a long way to go to master the language.

On one hand, the journey is the beauty of language learning. On the other hand, I realize I must put in the work with daily study and (gasp) a language partner who can pull me out of my comfort zone and get me interacting with the language on a deeper level.

I went to a digital marketing conference in Dallas last week. Seth Godin was one of the keynote speakers. A tip he gave was, “Blog every day. Even if no one reads it.” At the same conference, a book by Gary Vaynerchuck was given out. Man, talk about a guy who doesn’t settle. The personalities of these two couldn’t be more different, but their passion for effective communication – and life in general – is overwhelmingly similar…and contagious.

We still have a couple of weeks left of 2016. Now is both a time to reflect and a time to plan ahead, both a time to assess the prior year’s passions and hobbies and a time to decide if those things still provide the same level of personal enjoyment and fulfillment.

In 2017, I’m committed to excellence when it comes to language learning. Of course, my family and career come first. But third to those priorities will be closing the fluency gap. The challenge is on!

Lil’ollo Flashcards for Language Learning

One of the hurdles that I’ve run into since starting to learn German is that there aren’t many modern, vibrant and engaging language learning resources for children available at my fingertips. Where we live it’s much easier to find great Spanish language learning resources, such as books, flashcards and apps, than it is to find those same resources for us German learners.

Enter Lil’ollo, a new company based in the UK.

Lil’ollo sells the most beautiful children’s language learning resources. I ran across Lil’ollo on Instagram a few weeks ago and was immediately impressed, not to mention delighted because their products include German (along with Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, Welsh and Polish). Yay! And they say they are adding more languages and language combinations soon.

Here’s a video about Lil’ollo and the products that bring language to life for kids around the world:

Alex, the founder of Lil’ollo, was so kind to send me a set of English-German flashcards, which arrived in perfect condition in Lil’ollo-branded bags – such wonderful packaging detail, reminiscent of the legendary Apple experience.

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My son loves these flashcards. He grabbed them at first sight and didn’t want to let them go. Seriously. I had to pry them out of his hands. I can’t wait until he’s just a couple of months older (and calmer) and can enjoy the fun of matching games. For now, we’re just enjoying looking at the colorful photos and describing the animals in German and in English.

I highly recommend Lil’ollo’s products for your own family or any family you know who’s learning another language. And even if they’re not learning another language (yet), these would be a fun way to jumpstart a new hobby or resolution for the new year.

Hurry, though, if you want to order them as Christmas presents and have them shipped to the United States by December 25th. The deadline for international shipping and delivery is December 13th!

Follow Lil’ollo on Instagram to keep up with all the pretty photos across various languages.