Although we haven’t lived in Italy since 2012 my children do occasionally speak Italian. They have also both taken the GCSE in Italian. Since they are bilingual they were able to sit the exam, without having studied the coursework, which wouldn’t have been possible at their school anyway since the languages offered are Spanish and French. My son, who recently finished all his GCSEs also took Spanish. But this post is about why I am glad that they are both bilingual.
Here are the 5 reasons I am glad my children speak English and Italian.
- They are bilingual – which I am so impressed by. The Britalian (that’s my husband – he’s British and Italian) and I left Australia in 2006 with the specific purpose of our children becoming bilingual by moving to Italy. We all learnt so much during our time there. We learnt about a different school system and the highs and lows associated with that.
- It has made their language studies here in England easier. Mr 16 started off in year 7 with both French and Spanish. His Italian helped both of these. Once he started year 8, the school changed their policy which meant that only one foreign language is studied in year 7 and year 8, and the school encouraged him to study Spanish, since he was showing more flair in that. Meanwhile Ms 15 started year 7 studying French. No competition between them as a result!
- Communicating with family. Our children are able to communicate with family members who don’t speak English at all, since they have learnt Italian. You also find in our house that although English has always been the predominant language, there are moments when Italian is spoken as well. Sometimes it dominates the conversation, at other times there are various words used here and there of both languages.
- When they speak in each language they sound like native speakers. When we first moved to Italy in 2006 and my daughter was going to preschool, one of the teachers told me ‘lei è una spugna’ which literally means that ‘she is a sponge.’That was the great thing for my daughter because when we moved she had a whole year to ‘play’ with the Italian language and learn it by having fun, playing games and singing songs; before starting ‘big’ school. In this way, she soaked up the language, like a sponge. Great imagery isn’t it, for language acquisition.
- I have to put in a point about their English as they speak a mixture of Australian English and British English. Mr 16 has always commented about my pronunciation of certain words. It is interesting how the language skills of our children have evolved. I love how they both say yoghurt like little Aussies. Also not only their language skills, but also their accents. Ms 15 has a more pronounced English accent which she picked up quite quickly. Whereas Mr 16’s isn’t as pronounced.