We are a two (maybe three) language household. But it wasn’t always this way…
My younger son’s father comes from an Italian family who has spoken Italian his whole life so when our younger son was starting to pick up language this year we made a conscious effort to start mixing Italian words & sayings with our English. It mixes well with the very Italian symbols we constantly have around our home, like this family crest that dons our living room wall AND more importantly… daddy’s shoulder!
Very quickly I added his father’s twin sister’s second language, sign language to the equasion. Now, we have a growing vocabulary in our household (and classroom) of English, Italian and Sign languages being expressed. I’m constantly at battle with the fact that I don’t personally speak any of these languages fluently except English, and neither does my older son… but this March’s Parents magazine article “Lost in Translation” (on pages 84 and 88) helps shed some quick tips on not only the benefits of having a child learn to speak another language at a young age, but ways to be able to expose them early on even if you don’t speak a second (or third) language yourself!
I especially like the suggestions to expose him to bilingual baby-sitters… something I should try and find or ask our current sitters to encourage while here. Another suggestion is to pick up books in that second or third language, helping exposure on multiple levels and something the baby sitter (and/or classroom teacher) could help with as well!
Here are some of our growing list of words in English and Italian through Sign language images…
Please (or “Si prego”, or “Si prega di” in Italian)
Thank you (or “grazie” in Italian)
All done (or “Finito: fee – nee – toh” for singular male in Italian)
I definitely suggest reading the March Parents magazine article “Lost in Translation” for your own language ideas for your family!