Sprechen Sie auch Deutsch? My kids do

When Calvin was three he asked his preschool teacher to help him “wipe his keister.”

“I thought, ‘Are you an 80-year-old man?’” she laughed when shared this with me and husband.

Calvin learned keister at home because his dad says it. It’s part of our family slang.

Recently we’ve added “nicht gut” to the family dialogue. Nicht gut means not good in German. This time, the kids brought new words to the parents. They make a thumbs-down motion when they say it.

Max and Calvin are learning German at school. As kindergartners at Cincinnati Public School’s Fairview German Language School, they will take German for six years. Teachers and the principal go by Herr and Frau.

Max's work from Herr Heinz's class.

Max’s work from Herr Heinze’s class.

It’s quite adorable. Especially to me, who’s lasting skill after four years of high school and one year of college French is the ability to order an Orangina or ask for the bathroom, “où est la salle de bains?”

Which I just read is not the right way to ask for the facilities, so I was wrong. S’excuser.

While we live in a city with a strong German heritage, neither Eddie nor I are Deutschländers. Irish, Welsh, Scottish, English, and Italian make up our genetic backgrounds. We look like the British Isle side. Maybe that’s why when I suggested the family names of Giovanni or Raphael when I was pregnant, he didn’t go for it.

My great grandfather Giovanni DiGioia.

My great grandfather Giovanni DiGioia.

Besides teaching introducing us nicht gut, Calvin and Max can count to one hundred in German.

They sing songs. Sometimes I hear them singing themselves to sleep. Instead of the usual pop or kid songs, their sweet voices sing melodies I don’t understand. Max sung happy birthday to his cousin Margot in his new tongue.

They also taught their cousins the word for butt in German – po po. My nephew Luke now uses it liberally.

And of course, they argue about their German. Like an old married couple, Max and Calvin correct each other’s pronunciations and accents.

It’s been a fun experience but one I envision being used against us at some point when they have entire conversations that we don’t understand.

I better watch my keister.

Calvin reading a German book.

Calvin reading a German book.


I discovered an entire language section for kids at the local library. Korean, French, German….there are lots of language books at our branch. (Clifton for Cincinnati folk.)

Milet Publishing has a wide selection of toddler first bilingual books. Children’s books include bilingual Elmer books, young adult fiction, children’s stories and dictionaries in many languages.

My boys really loved showing me what they know in My First Book of German Words by Katy R. Kudela.

3 thoughts on “Sprechen Sie auch Deutsch? My kids do

  1. I went to the Academy of World Languages as a child and took Chinese for 3 years. Though I don’t remember too much, I do remember the fun; the songs, the performances, the International Festivals. It probably sparked my interest in Asia. I think being exposed to another language/culture at an early age is the best thing ever. Glad your kids are loving German. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The day I helped at the book fair | I love kids books

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