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Old 09-03-2005, 03:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
Born Against
 
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A big move, with a 5-year-old

Where to start . . . .

We are very seriously planning on moving permanently from Miami Florida to Croatia (a small country in the Balkans, won its independence during the Balkan war in 1995). We have just one child so far, a 5-year-old girl. Part of the reason for moving is to be closer to my family in Croatia and my wife's family in Berlin.

Our daughter was born here in Miami (I'm American too; my wife is German). She speaks both English and German as native languages, plus a little Spanish. If we move to Croatia she will start first grade in a small village school where only Croatian is spoken.

We're a little apprehensive about the transition for her. Neither I nor my wife speaks Croatian (yet) so there's not much we can do to prepare her. Has anybody here put their child into a school where nobody speaks their language? At her age, I think she'll be able to pick up the language pretty fast. In fact, if we stay there through her teenage years, then Croatian should become her preferred language (it seems inevitable that kids prefer the language spoken by their peers over that of their parents), although I think she'll always retain her English and German as well, from home conversation.

But I'm just a little worried about the transition .... it will be a new house, new countryside, new people, new culture, new school, new language for her. We'd have a meeting with the school administration and her teacher beforehand to make sure she's treated respectfully and with understanding etc. I guess I'm just looking for a little reassurance . . . here in our neighborhood a lot of the kids never spoke English before school, but in most cases the language switch wasn't coincident with a major move.

Any thoughts/advice is welcomed.
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Old 09-04-2005, 08:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raveneye
Where to start . . . .

We are very seriously planning on moving permanently from Miami Florida to Croatia (a small country in the Balkans, won its independence during the Balkan war in 1995). We have just one child so far, a 5-year-old girl. Part of the reason for moving is to be closer to my family in Croatia and my wife's family in Berlin.

Our daughter was born here in Miami (I'm American too; my wife is German). She speaks both English and German as native languages, plus a little Spanish. If we move to Croatia she will start first grade in a small village school where only Croatian is spoken.

We're a little apprehensive about the transition for her. Neither I nor my wife speaks Croatian (yet) so there's not much we can do to prepare her. Has anybody here put their child into a school where nobody speaks their language? At her age, I think she'll be able to pick up the language pretty fast. In fact, if we stay there through her teenage years, then Croatian should become her preferred language (it seems inevitable that kids prefer the language spoken by their peers over that of their parents), although I think she'll always retain her English and German as well, from home conversation.

But I'm just a little worried about the transition .... it will be a new house, new countryside, new people, new culture, new school, new language for her. We'd have a meeting with the school administration and her teacher beforehand to make sure she's treated respectfully and with understanding etc. I guess I'm just looking for a little reassurance . . . here in our neighborhood a lot of the kids never spoke English before school, but in most cases the language switch wasn't coincident with a major move.

Any thoughts/advice is welcomed.
Children are very maliable when it comes to language, but without reinforcement in the home it will be harder for her. If you lived in the greater Cleveland area I could point you to resources to help your daughter learn before the move, but I am not aware of any large concentration of Croatians in Miami. That said you should be able to find language learning tapes online to get her at least a limited vocabulary and an understanding of how the language is constructed. There are even some free resources such as this site, and the croatian ethnic intitute's bookstore has some inexpensive items. If your family is from the north of Croatia there is a good chance that German is spoken as a secondary or tertiary language since the northern portion was controlled and occupied by the Austro-Hungarian empire for a long time, this may help her in the transition since it is not guarenteed that the teacher will speak any English. The other thing you might want to look into, if you are planning on living in the capital, is an international school. These are schools setup for the children of diplomats and international business people. The classes are generally taught in English with exposure to the native language, my uncle has done this with his Japanese children in order to prepare them for life in America (children of foreigners are looked down upon in Japanese society so their career oportunities are very limited if they stay in Japan), yet they both speak perfect Japanese.
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Old 09-04-2005, 09:12 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks very much, robodog (are you Croatian BTW?). I like the language site, that will be very helpful to all of us -- I was about to start ording books, but I think I'll start with the online resources which are very good.

We will probably be settling in the Zadar area, or somewhere between Zadar and Split. My sister lives near Zadar and will be helping out as well (she speaks English, German, and Croatian). During the last couple summer holidays in Zadar my daughter has gotten a feel for the area and the people, made some friends and learned a few words.

Yep Cleveland unlike Miami has a big Croatian population. I'm looking for a Croatian Catholic church at the moment somewhere here, dunno if I'll find one.
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Old 09-04-2005, 08:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm actually of Slovenian heritage, but I have many friends whose ancestors were Croatian. I've been over to Slovenia several times and have done a lot of studying of the history of the region.
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