For most American kids in the 1970’s, Saturday mornings meant eating Sugary Cereals while watching cartoons in pajamas. Not for me…every Saturday morning from the time I entered Kindergarten until I went to High School, I ate my Haverflocken (Oatmeal) or gekochtes Ei (soft boiled egg), then headed off to German School (Deutsche Schule).
You see, my parents came here from Germany, and they knew that in order to preserve their culture, and combat sugary American influences, my sister and I needed proper instruction. Besides, how on earth could I send letters to my relatives if I couldn’t write! (German kids learn cursive first, and grammar comes very early in the education process).
My Love Hate Relationship with German School
At the time, I loved and hated it. While my friends watched television, played sports, and relaxed, I was reciting “Ich, du, er sie est, wir, ihr, sie…”
We declined sentences, learned grammar and sang songs. We studied the culture. Writing was important, and reading was Wichtig! (In fact, my mother made me read aloud to her in German for 15 minutes every evening). Learning the language so that we could speak to our Omas and Opas was imperative. There was no option.
And, believe me, there was no fooling around. The teachers were primarily German women who either knew my parents, or had no hesitation at all about calling my mother to tell her how I was goofing off in class. German School cost money, we do not waste money. There was no fooling around!
It was three hours of “der, die, das, dem, der, dem, den” instead of Scooby Doo.
At times it felt like torture, after all, who wants to go to school on Saturday? And on top of that… we had Hausaufgaben (homework)! Everything had to be written neatly into our composition books.
It ended up being one of the best things that could have happened to me.
This was a time before college resume building, so the kids at the school were all children of immigrants like me. We had a secret language. It was the one place I wasn’t teased for wearing shoes instead of sneakers. It was a place where my leather Schultornister (school bag) didn’t make me look like a dork. We had Christmas pageants that brought tears to our parent’s eyes.
So, while my American friends were playing in pee wee basketball leagues, my German friends and I were singing, “Mein Vater war ein Wandersman…”.
I think I came out ahead.
What a wonderful gift it is to have a second language. Vielen Dank Mama und Papa.
For a list of German Schools in America
Looking for German Workbooks for Homestudy?
German for Children with Two Audio CDs, Third EditionDeutsch Aktuell: Level 1 (German Edition)Cool Kids Speak German: Enjoyable worksheets, word searches & colouring pages in German for children of all agesPractice Makes Perfect German Conversation (Practice Makes Perfect Series)
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