As you know, my family and I live in Nashville for about a year. We came when Adelaide was almost three and was talking a little bit of Italian and no English. Ginevra could say just ‘Mom’.
After a year I have two bilingual kids in the house. Adelaide speaks perfect English and people ask me if she was born here in Tennessee. But it wasn’t always like that. At the beginning was hard.
I remember when I was trying to teach her how to say: “My name is Adelaide” to socialize with other kids at the park. From far, I could see the expression of her perplexed face. She couldn’t understand anything of what other kids were saying. To not talk about the first day of Day Care, I was asking myself if she could do it, if she could survive to that extremely new experience…
She made it all!
Once Adelaide was at Day Care every day, after just 6 months I assisted an incredible transformation, completely natural. Being around other kids talking a new language made her learn a perfect English without even being able to read or write. Don’t you think is wonderful?
We all know that the more you grow, the harder is to learn a new language, take me as an example. I understand the importance to improve my writing and speaking in English. I commit myself to it every day but it’s tough!
So, it’s crucial teach English or any other language in early age! How? Here there are some advice to teach English to your babies and kids.
I premise that I’m not a teacher nor a really good English speaker but I’ll tell you my personal experience that I had with my daughters.
Counting the stairs:
Seems silly but also in Italy, to get upstairs we were counting the number of the stairs in English: one, two, three… same thing we do here and we can count 17! In this way, we learned the first numbers.
Watching cartoons and videos:
Peppa Pig is the number one in terms of pronunciation. My daughters also love: Super Why that teaches easy words and the right pronunciation in English; Little Einsteins, not a new one but I swear that your child will love it. We watch all of them on Netflix.
Super Why is located in a magic world called Village Storybook where Whyatt Beanstalk and his friends live. Whyatt hears is phone ringing “Super Duper Computer”. After answering the phone, he finds out that him or one of his friends have a “big problem”. Whyatt calls the “Super Readers”. Whyatt, Pig, Little Red, Riding Hood, Princess Pea an Woofster appear in front of Book Club, a building made with books. Whyatt ask the viewer his name so the little viewer become Super You. From there on the story gets deeper…
Little Einstens talks about the adventure of four little explorers Quincy, Annie, Leo and June that every day go in a mission with Rocket, a red musical spaceship. The main theme is the music and it will take them into adventures. The purpose of this show is to teach music, geography and the history of art and science of Earth involving the child. Beside the language, children will learn lot of interesting things, I can guarantee it!
In English, there are bunch of funny songs. I learned them too 😉 Ginevra loves the video of Mother Goose Club and WOW ENGLISH TV with Steve and Maggie let’s learn how to speak and sing in English. You can find the videos on YouTube and Netflix.
There are some children books that user easy language and different repetition and rhymes, helpful to learn the first words and remember meaning of the story.
Cristina aka Il mondo di Chri, suggests Il gatto mammone, a Lazio traditional fairytale told by Maria Teresa Ruta and illustrated by Samantha Farina. A great bilingual book, Italian and English, that teaches how to be good and loving”.
I also like the personalized books Wonderbly: good pictures and stories, beside learn English you can personalized the book as you want also with a special inscription. Wonderbly books are horizontal digital printed in A4 format on thick, uncoated and ecologic paper with ink that last forever. For my daughters, I picked those stories: The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, The Birthday Thief Book and Kingdom of You. Wonderbly books are for kids from 2 to 6 years.
The method listed are for the little ones but can be used also for adults like me!
I find helpful watching TV shows and movies in English with subtitles in English too so that I can memorize better. Some says that it’s not good, that first you should watch the movie in Italian and then in English but who has all that time? I’m lucky if I can finish one episode of my favorite TV show without being interrupted…
Still for adults and children, if in your city there are playgroups organized by foreign moms ask to enjoy one of it with your children, but speaking just English! Personally, I never attended playgroups.
We prefer being outside and we’re lucky because here in Nashville the temperature is temperate (almost) the whole year so I take the girls to the playground. Also at the playground moms and dads of the kids talk just English. I had conversations with most of them and I never got bitten… on the contrary, they’ve been emphatic and understood the situation.
Now, I just wish you good luck with your work!
Translated by Alice Perego
PH by Giorgia Balestri @2017 once upon a dream