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Old 24.01.2017, 23:43
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How long did it take for your child to learn German?

We just returned to live in Zurich at the beginning of the Jan. Our son is 7 years old and settling into a local school. His teachers seem to think it will take around 6-9 months for him to pick up the High German that the lessons are taught in, and a little longer to speak the Swiss German that is spoken by the children in the playground.

For those who have children in school here, how long did it take your child to pick up the language?

Thanks :-)

P.S. I used the search option but couldn't find any threads on this.
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Old 25.01.2017, 09:39
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

I moved here when I was about 10 or 11. I was able to speak Swiss German, albeit broken, within a few months. Kids his age learn very fast.


The other kids in his class will be learning grammar now. So thankfully he wont fall too far behind and should be able to catch up with time.
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Old 25.01.2017, 09:50
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

I know someone how moved here when they were around eight and had English parents*. According to my (Swiss) wife, the child sounded like a native speaker within one year.

*I make that distinction to show they're only hearing spoken Swiss German at school and in clubs and not at home.

It's not the same for every child.
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Old 25.01.2017, 09:59
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

26 years.

Tom
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Old 25.01.2017, 11:16
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

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It's not the same for every child.
That's very true. Mine came here in the age of 12 and 9 y.o. with reasonably good English and zero German. The younger one went straight to local school, and in three months, started getting better marks in High German essays than her native-speaking classmates. At the same time, she picked up perfect ZueriDüüch, making fun with imitating different canton's dialects.
She is *teaching* German now.
The elder one went to bilingual school, went fluent in about 2 years only, and even now, after Masters at St.Gallen Uni, still sounds a bit "auslaendisch" in both Germans.
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Old 25.01.2017, 11:23
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

Not the same for every child, as said above. And depends so much on you, the parents, and whether you are prepared to grab every opportunity for your child to be in a German speaking situation. If you only have expats as friends, only watch English TV, etc,- it will take longer than if you, yourself, immerse yourself fully.

The other point is ' what do you mean by learning German'? Being able to understand everything is one thing, being able to respond orally in a manner which gets the message across is another- having an extended vocabulary that allows for nuance, and correct grammar, especially in writing- another kettle of fish altogether. For the grammar side, I'd enrol some professional help. Good news is, German grammar is very complicated at first, but once you master the basics, there are few exeptions (unlike in French !)...

As a teacher of French and German in the UK, we often had students with parents who were native French and German speakers, and their children 'seemed to' be bilingual, but their written accuracy was often very poor, and they often didn't do well in exams.
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Old 25.01.2017, 11:39
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

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We just returned to live in Zurich at the beginning of the Jan. Our son is 7 years old and settling into a local school. His teachers seem to think it will take around 6-9 months for him to pick up the High German that the lessons are taught in, and a little longer to speak the Swiss German that is spoken by the children in the playground.

For those who have children in school here, how long did it take your child to pick up the language?

Thanks :-)

P.S. I used the search option but couldn't find any threads on this.
Don't make the big mistake of judging by your own standards; before you know what, your son will have picked up both High Germand and dialect !
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Old 25.01.2017, 12:06
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

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Don't make the big mistake of judging by your own standards; before you know what, your son will have picked up both High Germand and dialect !
On the other hand, don't forget that he may misunderstand things which are clear to the other youngsters for quite a while.

Different language but same problem - one daughter came home from kindergarten in the Aargau with a tale of strawberries with noodles. Took me a minute to work out that the teacher had said Erdbeeren mit Nidle (cream).

Thrilled to bits to hear that they would be going 'by coach' on a school outing in England, I had to break the news to her gently that this wasn't going to be a Kutsche with horses but merely a better class bus!

So if uncertain, check back if the things your youngster tells you are correct. Mind you, some of the most unbelievable bits will be true.
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Old 25.01.2017, 12:07
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

At the age of 7 he'll just suck it all into his head. He'll achieve more in 6 months just by listening and talking than you probably would with 2 or 3 years of intensive German classes.

Actually you'll be giving him an incredible gift, and that is the ability to be truly bilingual without really needing to work that hard at it. Sure it'll be difficult for him at first, but after the first couple of months or so he'll be taking it in his stride.
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Old 25.01.2017, 12:38
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

My kids were born here, did all their schooling here, and their German is still rubbish .
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Old 25.01.2017, 13:21
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

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My kids were born here, did all their schooling here, and their German is still rubbish .
Well, you've only got yourself to blame for that
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Old 25.01.2017, 13:27
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

Hi my children were 2 and a half and almost six when we moved here. They have picked it up and both sound like native speakers now . We have been here for two and a half years .

Main problems are :

Die der das, they speak like natives but are still struggling with this. My eldest daughter who is now 8 has passed the die der das exam this month but only just. The teachers have said not to worry that it's normal and she will just pick it up.


Maths is fine except for the fact that they have had to learn how to say their numbers back to front!! This has caused some confusion , they seem to write the smaller numbers before the greater numbers at times aswell . E.g. When writing 96 they write down the 6 and then the nine. The people also write their 1s like we write our 7s!!!!

When they have learnt enough , they will become more interesting to the other children and then they will start to learn even faster through play.

Each time you all become frustrated, just remind them of the wonderful gift which you are giving them . Also that their new friends are all struggling to learn English and that's one less thing that they need to do :/)
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Old 25.01.2017, 15:27
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

As others have mentioned, it is VERY important that he learn the grammar! While I speak fluently, and can understand everything I hear and read, I still have issues writing.


Be sure to keep in touch with his teachers and get him a tutor if required.
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Old 25.01.2017, 16:09
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

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My kids were born here, did all their schooling here, and their German is still rubbish .
How is their French then? Or is that rubbish too?
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Old 25.01.2017, 16:40
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

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My kids were born here, did all their schooling here, and their German is still rubbish .
Mine too, and it doesn't help that my daughter and her Swiss-German boyfriend speak mainly Italian (sometimes English) to each other, despite living in AG!

Tom
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Old 28.01.2017, 15:49
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

We came here just before my daughter turned 4 years old. She went to a bilingual kindergarten and was understanding within 3 months. She was speaking in German in full sentences within 6 months. Her German native teacher keeps telling us how she has no accent and sounds like all the other native speakers and we've only been here 2years. If she was in a public Swiss school I think it would have been even quicker but she could fall back on English when she needed so less motivation.
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Old 29.01.2017, 20:23
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Re: How long did it take for your child to learn German?

Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to my post. I really appreciate it!
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