When I found out I was expecting, one of the things I was most pleased about, other than the obvious stalk delivery, was that I was going to have a bi-lingual child.
I studied Spanish at school and university and my language skills got me out of no end of trouble when I was traveling South America (it also got me into trouble but we wont go there right now).
In today’s multi cultural world I think it’s imperative that children speak a second language to give them the best start. I didn’t set out on purpose to find a foreign husband but I’m so grateful now that I have one.
Unlike mother.wife.me and gaelicmediummum who have very bravely set out to teach their children a second language that 1) is not their mother tongue and 2) they don’t even speak themselves, I feel very fortunate that the Italian is, well, Italian, so Bambina can talk and wave her hands
at with him to her heart’s content. You can catch their story here.
If I wasn’t married to a non-English, I’m not too sure how determined I would be to ensure that Bambina learns a new language. If I am completely honest, I would probably leave it up the education system to sort out. I take my hat off to mother.wife.me and gaelicmediummum for taking on such a mammoth task – and sticking to it!! Massive Kudos.
The Italian is also fluent in Spanish. Double whammy. With Italian, Spanish and maybe a bit of French and/or Cantonese thrown in for good measure when she goes to school, Bambina is set to be a very clever little girl. Either that or totally bamboozled and won’t be able to string a sentence together – well, a sentence that we understand!
But how and when do we speak to her in other languages than English? When does too much information become system overload?
Currently we are trying, but not yet perfecting, the one parent one language rule. I babble in English and he mutters in Italian. Thanks to Skype, Bambina sees and converses with her grandparents (Nonni) in Italy everyday and at ten little months she can understand and responds to various phrases in both languages:
Clap your hands – Batti le Manine
How big are you? – Cuanto grande e?
Give me a kiss – Dame un bacino
On Easter day she said her first Italian word, “Nono!” (Granddad).
Italian as a second language is not as popular as French or Spanish so it’s quite difficult to find bi-lingual toys. I found a great one on eBay but that was it. I’ve tried to find them at Chicco, both in the UK and in Italy, but to no avail. Considering Chicco is an Italian company, even they fall short on English/Italian toy availability. It’s rather frustrating when most toys out there (Fisher Price and Leap Frog) only do mixed languages in English/French. Thank goodness for Dora the Explorer because now at least we have Spanish too.
You can imagine my delight when by chance I came across Babyboomboom who make bi-lingual nursery rhyme CD’s for children. They had an English/Italian version! Bravo! Bambina listens to it probably every day and it is the best tenner I’ve ever spent!
And so our varied vocabulary continues. I am learning Italian along with my daughter and even know how say things like nappy, bottle, bum rash – not phrases I need when ordering a coffee or a double room in a hotel but hey ho. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I don’t know what my child is saying and for that reason, language lessons all round!
BabyBoomBoom have kindly offered to donate a few of their music bags to Tea&Biscotti for my very first *GiveAway*. It’s an amazing gift for any parent wanting to assist their child in learning a new language and what better way to do that than with nursery rhymes?!
I will be posting *GiveAway* details later this week so do stay tuned (see what I did there? tuned…genius!) if you want to be the lucky owner of a BabyBoomBoom music goodie bag!
In the meantime, if anyone out there is a bi/tri-lingual parent, do leave me a comment on what approach you are taking and how it works, or doesn’t, for you and your little ones. I would be interested to know how you are finding it. Any advice is helpful advice, I appreciate it.
Until then… Ciao Ciao!