Moving abroad as a family gives an opportunity to give your children an incredible experience. It’s no lie, though, that it can put a strain on family relations, as the stress of the move can take its toll on everyone. Learning a language together is a great way to stay connected, while making sure the whole family gets immersed in their new home.
Here are our tips on how to learn German as a family in Zurich:
Avoid expat bubbles
In an international city like Zurich, expats are everywhere, and it can sometimes be easy to look for a sense of security and surround yourself with other expats. However, going to places full of people just like you is a bad habit that should be dropped as soon as you arrive in Zurich. You will never learn the local language or integrate if you don’t.
If possible, send your children to a local school rather than an international one, so that they can mix and interact with local students. Invite the parents over for a chance for the whole family to meet Zurich locals and get the German flowing.
Create a German home
Turn your home into a living dictionary! Labeling everything in the house, from rooms to household items is a great way to build up an extensive vocabulary with hardly any effort. In no time at all you’ll be using the words in everyday conversation, even when talking English amongst each other.
Learning German doesn’t have to feel like work. Family movie nights can be used to watch German films, starting off with English subtitles. Exposure to accents, pronunciation and the language in general will get the whole family’s German off to a flying start.
Get out there
While there is a lot of learning to be done from the comfort of your own home, at one point or another you need to head out into Zurich. The city has a huge amount of cultural events and museums to explore, with heritage sites dotted around the Zurich region.
Museums are an interactive way to learn German (as long as you try and read the signs in German!), and you can even make a German-language scavenger-style hunt to find various exhibits.
Sign the family up to classes
While there’s a lot you can do yourself to learn German, classes from a native professional teacher are irreplaceable. Kids tend to lead from example, so the whole family should sign up to classes at the same time. After all, why should they have to do it if you don’t?
Classes for kids and adults are offered at Wordculture, a language school near the Alter Botanischer Garden. In addition to the language courses the school provides a professional childcare service that can be combined with your German classes.
Don’t force it
Children typically don’t like doing something if they feel overly pressured into it. Allocate certain days of the week to speak only in English to give everyone a break. As everyone starts to feel more comfortable and confident you may see that these ‘English only’ days start to naturally disappear.
Not completely cutting your kids off from their native language is also important for children to know where they come from. Studies show that children knowing their family’s history have higher self-esteem and an increased sense of control over their life, which will make them much more open to learning a second language.
Keep traditions from home alive and maintain links with relatives and friends.
Just have fun
Making learning German enjoyable is a sure-fire way to get the whole family speaking in no time - Da kannst du Gift drauf nehmen!