German to English Language transition in the Dakotas, USA, and Canada
Email Thread, 2018
Marylyn Diebold, March 2018
I am doing some family history and research into my German-Russian heritage. Was there a great number of our ancestors who were familiar with the English language before leaving Russia? Were they taught any English in their village schools etc.? How did a young couple with no children mainly learn the English language in America? Did they take special classes etc? Any information concerning language would be so helpful.
Thank you so much.
From Sister Lynette Friesen, SSND, March 2018
I can tell you what I know about my own ancestors from Russia. They never learned English before coming to the U.S. My maternal grandfather, John Peter Weigel, was part of a German family who farmed along the Volga River in Russia. He came alone (without his parents) from Russia at the age of 17 and spent time on Ellis Island before going to Kansas (Victoria was the English side of the railroad and the German side of the railroad was called Herzog, which is where St. Fidelis Church—the Cathedral of the Plains—was built in the early 1900’s. The whole town became incorporated later under the name Victoria) That is where my grandfather met his wife, Anna Linenberger, also a Russian German whose family had come earlier. My mother said they always spoke German in their home, but she learned English when she attended the Catholic School in Victoria, KS. Grandpa never did learn much English and when he lived with us several years before his death, my mother always conversed with him in German, and she taught us some German phrases so we could communicate in a limited way with him.
I know very little about my paternal grandmother. She and my grandfather (Friesen family) were part of the Germans who settled in North Dakota, in and around Devils Lake. However, my father also grew up speaking German in his home, and I'm sure he probably learned English when he attended the public school.
My parents Hilda Weigel and Jacob Friesen spoke German with each other but refused to teach us, their children, to speak German, because our growing-up years were during the 1st and 2nd World Wars when speaking German was prohibited, and anyone caught speaking German was under suspicion because of Adolf Hitler.
From Yvonne Lux, March 2018
My father's story is similar to Sr.Lynette's. His family arrived in ND in 1806. He and his brothers and sisters were all born in ND. The family lived in German language communities and attended German language Churches. I am not sure about the schools. I do know that he and his brothers were all confirmed in the German language. He learned English as did his father who was poly lingual: German, Russian, Turkish, Greek (they lived in Black Sea colonies). His mother rarely spoke English. When she moved to Lodi, CA she lived, once again, among Black Sea Germans and attended a German Language Church. She spoke English to me because I did not speak German. Like Sr. Lynette I grew up during WWII. Also, my mother who was not German speaking and grew up in Dickinson remembered that the German Russian kids had been teased and humiliated because they had trouble with English. I do remember that my Dad, although he was a clear English speaker, occasionally had trouble with the sound. As a typical kid who always wants what they can't have I took four years of German in High School and College, and eventually, some Russian. My grandmother still remembered her Russian and wrote and read both Russian and German. The schools in Kronental and Neusatz were good it seems.
I think learning English didn't happen until folks arrived in the US and then only when it was needed as they tended to live in German speaking communities. My grandfather operated grocery stores so needed to be able to do business. I'm not sure what the school situation was. Research in that area is definitely needed. Thanks for your interest!
From Fredricka Hepperle Nezbeth, March 2018
My grandparents came from Annenthal, very near Odessa and the Black Sea in the early 1900's – neither spoke English and, as far as I know, never learned English. My father and his siblings learned English in school and would get their knuckles rapped if they spoke German. They were raised on a farm in northern South Dakota - McLaughlin, which exists today, but not much is there. I have a Baptismal photo of my father and two of his sisters(along with several others) being baptized in the creek (which I believe is Oak Creek) near what used to be Maple Leaf, South Dakota. The names of the young people being baptized are listed on the back of the photo. I believe my aunt wrote the names.
(*my aunts and father)
From Frank Gruber, March 2018
We came to America in 1952. My parents were both Kutschurgan born and educated. My mother studied English in College in Odessa but since her uncle was declared a Kulak, she was denied any further education. She had some rudimentary English. My father graduated with a degree in Accounting and Agricultural Engineering. He did not know any English but had to memorize in Soviet schools the names, the capital cities, and the number one product of each state in the United States. That was the extent of his knowledge of English when we came here. Under the Displaced Persons Act, in order to come here, there had to be a job for my father waiting for him. Of course, it was a job no one else wanted--highway construction dynamiting. Luckily there was another worker there who understood some German and could explain what had to be done. My father survived and prospered helping to build the road from Keystone,SD to Mt. Rushmore and other construction adventures.
After working a few days, my father excitedly came home to explain that the English language was not hard to learn. There is just one word that you need to know and you can use it as a noun, adjective, adverb, and verb and everybody seems to know what you are saying. My mother was excited to learn this wonderful all-encompassing word but was suspicious that English could not be THAT easy to learn. She consulted the English-German dictionary but could not even find it there. That night she phoned our sponsor, who spoke Kutschurgan German, and, of course, English. The sponsor admonished Mother for saying the word and told her to NEVER say that word! As you probably have already deduced, the word was F- - -. Needless to say, our family did not use that word and I never heard it much until I went to college.
Since my father was in the Black Hills maintaining and building county roads and bridges, he would not come home for many days. My mother would then have to take a bus and go to the Pennington County courthouse to get his paycheck. On the first trip, clutching her German-English dictionary, she found the County Treasurer's Office and got the paycheck. On the way out she passed by a convenient food stand in the lobby. There was a big sign that read, "Hot Dogs 5 cents". People were standing there eating and drinking. She got out the dictionary and looked up the words. To her horror, she translated 'Hot Dogs" to " Heisse Hunden" Horrors, in such a rich country as America, people are eating dogmeat! She was so upset and it galled her all the way back to home that she had to call our sponsor and tell her about it. After our sponsor quit laughing, which upset mother too, she was informed that it was a nickname for a frankfurter. Later, my mother got a job at the local packing plant--making wieners!
English is one of the hardest languages to learn as it has so many idioms that bely direct translation. Yet, some people, usually those that do not know any other language, cannot fathom how difficult it is to learn a language. We were told many times by Americans to speak English or go back to where we came from. It takes time and practice and humor.
Just thought I would share.
From Dr. Shirley Fischer Arends, author of “The Central Dakota Germans: Their History, Language and Culture”, March 2018
No, English was not taught in the German schools in Russia. The languages taught were Standard German and Russian. Everyone spoke German dialect in the home. In addition, many spoke Romanian, and Moldavian, a dialect of Romanian, with the other ethnic populations in the area.. So these people were not uneducated. The Germans were known in Russia for their competence and their education.
After immigration to America there was little opportunity for education due to the lack of schools. The older pioneers only learned as much English as they needed to buy supplies and survive.
Their children, the first generation generally got an 8th grade education which in many ways was equal to high school education today. The second generation took advantage of all the educational opportunities available in America, many of them graduating from college.
Why did so many keep speaking German. Germans from Russia were spread from Canada south as far as Texas. They did not have to learn English as they were surrounded by fellow German speakers.
From Arnold Wallender, March 2018
I am enjoying the ongoing ideologue concerning the Germans from Russia learning to use the English language. To the best of my knowledge the process was one largely of the school of hard knocks. Those of the first and later generations of Germans from Russia (or second and later, depending on how one counts it) had the advantage of attending school. Although I was born in the United States, I could not speak English upon entering Elementary School. It was a matter of swimming or sinking.
Then there is the matter of learning and retaining facility with the German language. In the Zion Lutheran Church (now ELCA) in Beulah, ND, Vacation Bible School was conducted in German well into the forties. I was confirmed in German in 1945. In earlier years, a good if not a greater part of the VBS curriculum was learning to write and read German. This was a concentrated, deliberate effort; not just an incidental by-product.
I feel so fortunate that my parents did not discourage their children from using German. I benefited greatly from this. At Jamestown College I went straight into second year German and thus early in college was able to take upper division courses, fulfilling literature requirements that way. In graduate school, I had a great jump on other students in meeting the foreign language requirements. Through the Fulbright program I ended up teaching (mathematics) in Germany. A great cultural exchange experience.
I could go on ad infinitum with anecdotes related to my upbringing in a Germans from Russia culture. I'll spare you the pain.
From Anthony Schwan, March 2018
My father was born in 1892 in Strassburg, Odessa Oblast, Russia, there he had 8 years of schooling where he learned LATIN ,even his Prayer Book was in LATIN-German. My mother was born in the village of Selz where she was schooled in GOTHIC German. She learned English from my father reading and speech only. She could only write in GOTHIC, her prayer book was in Gothic German. When they came to America in 1925 with four children via Canada, my father could read and sound English because he knew LATIN but did not know the definition of the words. It did not take him long to learn them with the exception of the VERBS and their declination that took a long time.
Knowing LATIN, I believe was the secret and yes he learned to write English, but my mother only wrote in GOTHIC German.
From Cynthia Buhler, March 2018
My Vogt family came to Canada in the late 1800's. I don't think any of them spoke English before they immigrated. My great grandparents met and married in Canada. I don't know at what point they learned English. It must have been a process of exposure over time. They originally lived near other Mennonite Germans. Later they moved to Vancouver, B.C. so English was spoken all the time then. But, there is a family story about grandma where she declared to her family after she was married and had children that they were now in Canada and now would speak English. My grandmother said that one time someone said her mother was illiterate. My grandmother's defense was that she wasn't as she did all of her reading and writing in German. All their children including my grandmother were born in Saskatchewan. So they would have been exposed to German and English growing up.
From Norman Zeller, March 2018
Sounds like we all had similar childhood experiences with learning German. We spoke German in my home until my Father announced “ now that my older sisters were attending English public school we will speak English at home too.” I picked up a lot of German collaterally, because in my day, in Zap, North Dakota, you couldn't buy a candy bar at the store if you didn’t know some German. My father also never mastered the V and W sounds and we had lots of laughs about his pronunciation problem as we got older and learned more English.
From Carl H. Hepperle, March 2018
My Grandparents on both sides of the family spoke German. Paternal Grand Father could get along in English but at home, it was always German. He spoke both German and Russian fluently. My Father also spoke German and Russian and learned English, but he never got used to the V or W sounds being reversed.
Example the vacuum cleaner was always "The Wacuum".
The church services were in German in my early years (mid 40s) then German and English for a time. This was in the Baptist Church in Plevna, MT.
From Dr. Elvira Necker-Eberhardt, March 2018
I don't know whether this would help and also if everybody doesn't even know, anyway I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the Bessarabian-German dialect in MedicineHat, Alberta, Canada at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB. Of course all the Russian-German dialects are different, (even in Bessarabia others than the Swabian was spoken) but if I can help in any way, just let me know what interests you, I may be able to help.
From David Gustin, March 2018
I have read that there was an English literacy program in North Dakota in the early 1900s, but I have never heard any of my ancestors or relatives--Beresan Catholics in south central North Dakota--talk about that. Since they all lived on farms in the country I can't imagine them attending such classes.
None of my grandparents went to school in America, and my paternal grandmother had a very limited ability in English. My parents, born in America, learned English in grade school.
When I was a youngster German was spoken regularly among "the grown ups" at all family gatherings--visits, weddings, funerals--and among friends and neighbors on the street in town. In the early-mid 1940s the Sunday sermon in church was first in English, then in German.
At home, my parents sometimes spoke among themselves in German--especially if they didn't want us to hear what they were saying--and never tried to teach German to their children. In time, I was able to understand some of what they said, but couldn't really speak German. For the most part that ended once their parents were no longer living.
From Ray Mosher, March 2018
One important addition to the sources for learning English - the Sears catalog! That was one of the primary sources my German grandparents used in the early 1900’s in Spokane, WA.
From Curt Renz, March 2018
Michael mentioning the Sears catalogue spurred this memory: my dad's mother had 2 or 3 years of schooling in Bessarabia and none after arriving in South Dakota. A determined woman, she taught herself to read and write English using the Sears catalogue. Because education was so important to her, she ensured that her 10 surviving children had the opportunity to go to college and, they all did.
From Charles W. Hartman, March 2018
My experience is somewhat like Louise's, my maternal grandparents came from Norka Russia to the United States around 1920, escaping, I think, from the Bolsheviks. My mother thought that her uncles were probably dragged behind horses to death. They settled near Greeley Colorado and my grandfather who was a blacksmith established a shop and worked there for many years. My grandmother never learned English but she was conversant in both Russian and German. My mother who was born in Norka Russia spoke only German until she entered public schools. Louis, I have an adopted son and the way the adoption was handled in the United States is that now, knowledge of my son's natural parents is not given to the adopted parents. Knowledge that he is adopted has given him some problems of identity but I think that it is better that the knowledge be there then only to learn of it much later. It is also interesting that at the age of about 10 my sons natural mother called and try to reestablish contact with her family. Space he was quite interested in his natural family and spent a few weeks in contact but quickly decided that he was not a part of nor did he wish to be a part of his natural family.
From Gloria Ochsner-Price, March 2018
My Fauth and Ochsner grandparents came from Russia in early 1900's. I don't think they knew any English. They settled in the Dakotas and learned English somehow. I believe their churches spoke and sang German, though. I have the hymnbook from Plum Creek Baptist church and it is German. They moved to Oregon in the 1930's and went to Laurelhurst Baptist, which was English but had many German speaking people in the congregation. I remember when my grandmother would come to our house and speak German to my parents and mom would say "You are in America now, so speak English so the girls can understand you". Meaning my sister and I, her grandaughters. I did not learn German from them and the only time my parents spoke German around us was when they wanted to say something they didn't want us to know.
From Greg Cossette, March, 2018
My grandfather came from Helenental, South Russia (Ukraine), in 1903 and spoke no English. He came through England/Canada and settled in North Dakota. My grandparents spoke German exclusively with family, but learned English by necessity. My mother spoke German until she entered public school. I find it amazing what they were able to accomplish on their own in this "foreign" land; but having a home culture around them must have helped immensely.
From Dennis Maas, March 2018
My grandfather John Maas came to North Dakota at age 23. He had been in the Russian army and knew some Russian but knew both the high and low German dialects. He spook German with the neighbors and with his children who were born in North Dakota. We, the next generation knew some German but English was our language in the country schools. Lutheran Church services in the early days were German and I learned to write some in German script in Lutheran Church summer school but have forgotten most of it.
Grandma Pauline Schulz Kuch game to ND at age 22 and did all of her correspondence in German script of which I still have several copies . Also I have the Kuch family bible which is in German. Grandpa Carl M Kuch came to ND with his parents and siblings when he was six years old and learned English at the outset in the Red Butte country school. There are still a few people of my generation who can speak good German in the Mercer and Oliver county area. As we grew up we would speak to our grandparents in English and they would speak to us in German but we had no problem understanding each other, probably more so than today's kids understand their grandparents and parents.
From Steve Kraft, March 2018
First I will tell you that my father once told me: that in Strasburg, ND people would come from miles around just to have his grandfather, Peter Kraft, Sr. address envelopes for them. They had to be in English, German and Russian to get back to Ukraine. This should answer you inquiry by itself. Second, my oldest sister, Alice (Kraft) Charboneau, still alive at age 101 and living in Coquitlam, BC with her daughter, Bernadette, was born and raised in Strasburg, ND. She did not speak English until she was about 10 years old, the reason she finally had to learn English was to receive first holy communion. The nuns would only instruct them in English and not in the German spoke at home.
From Olga Seitz, March 2018
Before the Second World War in our country the children studied in the Soviet schools the German and the Spanish as foreign languages in general. In the villages of the Republic of the Volga-Germans the children studied in the schools the German and the Russian only. In 1942, the Russian Germans were deported to Siberia, the Far North, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Their children could learn there the Russian and the local languages only.
The English and the French have been taught in the Soviet schools after the Second World War in large numbers only. In the Russian-German villages it has never been studied.
From Cleon Ochsner, Author of "Kulak, Love and Death, a German-Russian Tragedy, Ukraine-1938" & "Kulak, Tod und Liebe, eine Deutsch-Russische Tragödie-Ukraine 1938", March 2018
Thanks to Marilyn Diebold for raising the question about learning English. As I shared in my response to her earlier, I don’t believe that learning English prior to our G-R ancestors migrating to the US was considered very important. Like many other groups, they often separated themselves, at least to a degree, from “others” and continued to practice their own culture and hoped to preserve their traditional lifestyle. Worshiped in their traditional language, established schools, newspapers etc. in their own language. Time, however, soon dictated that they learn English, which they took upon themselves to master. Living in colonies, as many did in Russia, Ukraine, etc. proved impractical in the new world. My observations.
From Stanley Fidge, March 2018
I can offer that for the German-Russian surname of Job (Jopp) that my Great grandfather Jacob Job who arrived in the US. from December of 1911 and Great Uncle (Jacob's brother) Friedrick Job (Jopp) Janaury of 1914 that they arrived into the U.S. without speaking English and learned English from listening to others around them, the radio, and/or attempting to learn and read the local newspaper. They all learned English thru self learning and later generations learned while attending K-8 grades in local public schools in LaMoure and Stutsman counties in North Dakota.
For the other German-Russian surnames of Krause, Flaig, and Holweg in my family history, they also arrived to the U.S. from April 1902 - February of 1909 respectively and immigrated to town's in LaMoure County, North Dakota and I can attest that they also did not know English before they arrived in the U.S. and they learned English from local family and friends around them after their arrival to the U.S.
From Julie Olson, March 2018
My grandfather (Renner) was born in Russia in 1890 and moved to North Dakota as a young child. He was the ancestor of a German who emigrated to settle Karlsruhe Russia. As far as we know, the family knew no English when they moved to the U.S. Grandpa went on to learn to read and write English and stayed informed by reading newspapers.
My grandmother (Meuchel) was born in North Dakota, and her parents had the same history of emigrating from Germany to Russia, then to the U.S. All of her life, my grandmother spoke with a heavy German accent, and my mother told me that grandma never learned to read or write English. I wondered how that was possible, but my mother told me they lived in a German speaking community and got along just fine that way. My grandmother was born in the 1890's and married in 1914. Their eleven children went to school and learned English. The children could understand German but rarely spoke it.
From Adi Hartfeil, March 2018
I have already responded to a number of people who responded in regards how they switched from their native German language to English after coming to the US with some like my own mother never making the change in their life time.
I also wanted to respond because my cousin Traudie Krueger from Brazil where 3 of German grand parents are buried married a Bob Hepperle who had a German Dakota family connection. Also you mentioned the German name Schlabs and I have German sister-in-law here in Oregon who is a Schlaps but her family comes from Bessarabia which is just to the east of Odessa.
My mother & her 5 kids (with twin boys at 2.5 years - one being me) escaped from central Poland with Russian cannon fire in the background at the end of WW2 to West Deutschland and then finally to Oregon City in 1954. At that time my twin brother & I were the 12 years old and couldn't speak one word of English. In about 3 months we could already communicate with our fellow junior high school students pretty well. Three of my older siblings had married German spouses and came to Oregon City first and they learned English on their manual jobs. My father learned to speak a little English as a janitor in a Portland furniture company which employed many local German immigrants. So he used his sons to help him with any necessary English translations and my mother on our later farmer never learned English. My father grew up on a German farm in eastern Europe with a 6th grade German education and my mother only learned to speak & read German at home/church.
Many of my nieces and nephews in Oregon learned to understand German but never learned to write or speak German because they went to US schools. Their understanding of German disappeared when they married US spouses and had their own kids. So without learning the German language, customs, etc. from Deutsche schools, books, newspapers, radio and TV; the German heritage, culture and language are lost very quickly by the second generation. I personally was determined to retain my mother's language and am still fluent in Deutsch even though my wife and kids only speak English. I am also helping other local Menschen who are interested in their Deutsche roots by being the President of Germans from Russia of Oregon and Washington (GROW - see our web page) to support our common Deutsche roots, culture, history, language, customs, etc.
PS: I am going to copy my reply and send it to a number of folks who responded to Michael Miller's original email reply on this topic about Deutsche immigrants assimilating into the US society and forgetting to speak/understand their Deutsche Mutteresprache.
From Lilian Bachynski Weigel, March 2018
Here's a little history from the 'come-latelys'...and different venues. Andreas WEIGEL was born in Georgental in 1904, and wound up living in Strassburg until the early 30s when he fled the Bolsheviks. He brought his family of 4 to the States in 1956 after they fled Russia in WWII arriving in Germany in 1945. By 1956, his son, Arkadius and his daughter, Emma knew English from having studied it in school in Germany. Andreas, however, did not speak English, neither did his wife, Karolina (FISCHER). Karolina spoke, read and wrote German, and became conversant in English in a few years - she did, after all, have to go shopping, and talk to neighbors.
Andreas spoke, read and wrote German and Russian, and could flip Russian into Ukrainian. He was a skilled tool and die maker and when they arrived in Michigan, he went to work for Ford in Dearborn. In short time, he decided he really needed to learn English and so he went to night school for a year - learned to speak, read and write English...and perfected that ability by reading newspapers, books, magazines. At home - they spoke German...until I came along...then they would switch to English until they realized I understood and could speak German also.
My father, born in Ukraine in 1895 came to Canada alone in 1913, as a teen, knowing no other language than Ukrainian. He too decided to go to school and learn his new country's language. And that is how he also learned to read, write and speak English. My Mom came over in 1923, and she spoke, read and wrote Ukrainian and Polish - but - like Karolina, she learned to speak English quickly - albeit with a definite Polish accent that she never lost....and she would read the newspapers...but writing English was not one of her sweet-spots. I spoke only Ukrainian until about 3 years old... because by then, playing with the other kids in the neighborhood (French, Finn, Polish, Scottish, Irish) and listening to the radio and my brother and sister I had learned English.
These people were self-starters. They knew something had to be accomplished...and then worked to accomplish it. In those years, no public school offered classes geared to Ukrainian or German students. You were immersed in the English language and you learned quickly. Necessity also drove accomplishment. And, not surprisingly, neither family lived in close proximity to others exclusively speaking their native language - which helped a lot.
From Judy Remmick-Hubert, March 2018
My Hein maternal grandparents, Ludwig and Christina, nee Schweickert / Schwieger, Hein knew a variety of languages before migrating to USA in 1909, Ludwig knew Low German and Russian since he was in the army. My grandmother had a keen ear and spoke seven languages. Before coming to the US she spoke Low German, Romanian, Russian, Bulgarian and __?-- (I've forgotten)... Once here in the US was added English and Spanish. It appears the need to learn other languages was to give directions to their workers. My grandmother was greatly interested in gardening and the Bulgarians were the ones who raised the veggies and melons and came around with their wagons and sold them to the GR's in Bessarabia. But she wanted her gown gardens. And in Russia and later in the US she had great gardens. She was known for the planting of the cobb melon from the seeds she carried first to ND and later MT..... German, however, was their main language in Russia and here in the USA. They translated all the conversations for me, the curious pain in the neck who wanted to know what was being said.... Their children spoke German at home and English outside of the home after they started school here in the USA.
My Dad spoke High German which caused him great difficulty with the majority of low german spoken by those around them in ND. My mother didn't understand him so they spoke English in our house. I never learned German.
Janice (Ereth-Ehret) Sullivan, March 2018
When my grandfather came to America in 1907 he spoke "0" English. He came directly from Romania at the age of 21, alone. As a rule, they were drawn to or followed relatives or like kind groups of people who can manage the English language or speak it fairly fluently.They depended on those families heavily to do their relating & understanding for quite some time while they tried to work their way into the culture. We know that they fought heartily to retain their German heritage & language, when they were forbidden to speak Gr. in public for a time, in some places,. They were not about to loosen their grip on it too willingly, not even for the remainder of their lives in America. I know, from my family biographies, that even after the Germans from Russia could speak & understand our language better, they only used it when nessessary. My aunts & uncles, who were born in Canada, didn't speak a word of English before they entered the 1st grade. The teachers had to spend extra time with them as the parents had poor teaching skills & only spoke Gr.to each other. As you can imagine, they too still had very strong Gr. accents when speeking English. The children struggled severely to advance in their studies.
My grandmother begged her younger children to keep up with the German language even after immigrating to Montana from Canada in 1923. Of course, they had caught the American bug & in their minds the history of our ancestors & their old way of life became a thing of the past. Even my generation didn't pay attention until it was too late. Howerver,I must say that when my Dad & his older siblings reunited, they always shared long conversations speaking in some what broken German. I always thought they had secrets from my Mother ( she is Irish) & us, because my Dad never spoke a word of it otherwise. Those siblings younger than he, who were born in the USA, resisted learning Gr. entirely.
Two of my grandfather's brothers came to America in 1952 & 53, after resettling from Romania to Germany. They tried to pick up on the English language a bit when they anticipated coming to America. (My aunt described little hand books were given to them when they applied for immigration to USA. They were necessary English words & short phrases for the purpose of managing his way through the tickit opffice & finding their way around the ship. After arriving here, they too adapted to our language very slowly by reading newspapers & by the aid of friends & kin. My aunt said that she would have someone correctly translate a letter from home or a news paper article from home into English, then she would use them as reversible dictionaries, so to speak, to learn how English words were used & spoken & spelled. German "groups" were formed in towns or areas heavily populated with Germans & or GfrRs. Those groups or societies are still active to this day. They were heavily depended on for the GRs to find any sense of belonging, while at the same time, sharing a mutual longing for their "The Homeland".