Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child


Friday, December 12, 2014

Why You Should Visit Italy During Winter Holiday Season and Why You Should Not.

I am keeping the promise I made last year to tell you more about Christmas in Italy.

Winter in Italy is cold and not sunny if you listen to Italians living there.  Visitors from northern parts of this world would not agree with that statement.  Take Milan, one of the biggest cities up north; it has on average 11 sunny days in December.  Yes, there is thick morning fog some mornings.  But it is beautiful!  You feel like the famous Russian hedgehog in the fog!  I love this cartoon, BTW!  Watch it, if you have not seen it.  It also has English subtitles!

If you do not come to Italy for weather, you should come for the spirit of the holiday season, that is so unique! Every single church, and in Italy there are many, has its own “presepio” display - a nativity scene. Presepe can be small, can be big and they can be LIVE!

No matter what religion you follow (if you follow at all) you must see them! This is creative art work with lights and often with animation or theatrical performance.

This is a video of  "Presepe Vivente" in Milan.

Here is the Presepio from the last year in Rome:

Presepio - nativity scene Rome Italy

Beautiful isn’t it?

If you are in Rome, you may like to stop by Presepio museum on Via Tor de’ Conti, 31/a near Chiesa dei Ss Quirico e Giulitta.  It is open on Tuesdays and Sundays 17.00 - 19.30 year around except August.

If running around and visiting churches is not your cup of tea, you probably the type who enjoys good food. Good news for you! This is panettone time! Traditional sweet Christmas bread from Milan.

You can find amazing panettone for every budget! For 3 euro at the discounted supermarket and for 50 euro at pastry shop. And Yes! They worth every penny!

Panettone Italian Christmas sweet bread

If you do not like raisins and orange pills in your sweets, and never developed a taste for Panettone, I have good news for you! Try Pandoro. The name comes from “Pan d’oro” which means “Golden bread”. It is also traditional Italian Christmas sweet from the north; Verona this time. Sorry no photo here, as I do not share your passion… If you are up to try to make one yourself, check these wonderful websites (in Italian): Pandoro recipe version1 , Pandoro recipe version 2 , which were recommended by my friends - Italian foodies living in the States, who create amazing Italian sweets at home!

Talking about sweets, I must mention Panforte, a traditional Italian desserts from Siena. It is hard and made out of flour mixed with sugar, honey, nuts, fruits and spices. M-m-m. It is a taste bomb. Same story as with the above listed sweets. There are commercially made Panforte, which are good, and there are ones made in a pastry shop, which are incredibly good! You have to try them. Each and every one tastes different!

Panforte hard Italian sweet

If you have friends in Italy, who invited you to share with them a Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas day lunch, expect a multiple course meal. Christmas Eve dinner is a typically centered around fish and it’s over just in time for you to attend the midnight mass at the church. Christmas Day lunch is a big event in any Italian family, when all relatives gather for a long and cheerful family meal and celebration.

Also, I would like to warn you. Italy is a small country with such a diverse variety of food based on a region. So do not be surprised if you will be served totally different type of food! (for instant, meat instead of fish).

If what I listed above is not enough, you will definitely enjoy topping off your Italian vacation with purchase of some made in Italy shoes and clothes for the whole family. You can even get everything on sale, if you push your departure to after January 6. (scoop some winter sales)

If you are in Milan, don’t forget to have a walk on Monte Napolione - the famous shopping street.

Versace store Milan Italy

You ask me: What are the reasons for not going to Italy during winter? Well, I share the same sentiments regarding weather as most Italians. It’s so awful when only half of the month in winter is sunny :) (The ratio is so much better in summers!) Really, I can’t find any reasons for not visiting!

How did you like my teaser? :) Stop by my website for more exciting details next year!

Are you already hungry?
Click on the pictures and get some sweets delivered to you by Amazon!


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Italian Chocolate
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Gianduja Cream Spread
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This post was written for the MKB Christmas in Different lands series. Everyday from 1st to 24 of December bloggers around the World share how Christmas is celebrated where they live.

MKB christmas in different lands

You might also like:

7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read.

How to develop early phonemic awareness and reading readiness by using language play with kids from birth to preschool.  

List of children's books in Polish language - Lista książek po Polsku dla dzieci

International, Bilingual schools and Early childhood education institutions in Rome, Italy

Life Story. Our trilingual story: It’s all Greek, Italian and French to me! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Life Story: A language story that spans two centuries.

If you are undecided whether you should pass your mother tongue onto your child or not, read this story. 
Lets take a look at the way international families life was back in the last century. 
Back then, parents had many obstacles in preserving and passing their mother tongue onto their children.  
I can only say: Today we are very lucky! We have so much support coming from all around us! Let's make sure that our children can speak at least two languages because, as Danuta Rosevear says, "... knowing a language well also means understanding other people’s desires, needs and worries..."

There are some wonderful tales of multilingual lives on this website; my story though is very much minus the second language element!
However, as you can see from my website "Singing Games for Children", coming from an international family with several, mostly European strands, has left me with an enduring interest for other languages and that is one of the reasons for deciding to translate many delightful songs into English from French, Polish, Spanish, Catalan and Dutch albeit with the help from my global friends and relatives.

My Russian grandmother, Polish grandfather, my father at the back in 1935
Danuta's Polish grandfather,
father, Russian grandmother 1935
My Russian grandmother came from a well connected family in Leningrad (now St-Petersburg); it was there she met my Polish grandfather and fled to Poland after a long and perilous journey during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Once in Poland life continued to be one of unrest as parts of Poland were annexed first by Russia and then Germany. I believe he was required to speak German at school at one time.
My father was born in Pinsk and as a teenager joined the Polish Army. When this area was annexed by the Russians he and many others were classed as traitors and taken en masse on a forced march to prisoner of war camps in Siberia. I don’t know if my father had learnt Russian from his mother at home but knowing more than just the ‘mother tongue’ would have been very useful under these difficult circumstances. As part of the political upheavals during World War 2 he came to England with Anders Army through many countries and down to the Black Sea. When he arrived in Britain he became a pilot in the Polish air force.

Sisters and Polish and Italian husbands
In the 1940s / 50s my father was determined to become an 'Englishman' and to him that meant speaking English at home. Most of his comrades had married English girls and soon all spoke good English. My maternal ‘English’ (both her parents were Irish) grandmother had three daughters – my mother married a Pole, one married a Frenchman, the other an Italian – Brighton was a very cosmopolitan town at the end of WW2!
My cousins who had an Italian father had the same experience as me and spoke only English at home. One of these in her early 20s moved to Italy and married an Italian. Her children spoke only Italian at home; she is now nearing her 70s and is no longer confident speaking and especially writing English! My French cousins who were raised mostly in France did become bilingual however. One who now lives in Australia rarely now has the opportunity to speak French.

Returning from Malaya
on a troopship SS Empire Orwell 1956

My older brother who had shown no particular promise at languages at school started learning Polish out of interest at 18. He then went on to learn Russian and French and is now pretty fluent in all three languages. He is a language teacher in Paris. It might be better to learn at mother / father’s knee but it’s never too late to learn! He was speaking Polish better than my father at one time according to the family in Poland. Like me none of my other siblings can speak another language well. We were not in contact with my paternal relations in Poland because of the Cold War; my father was unable to visit his mother for ten years so we had no contact with them until later in life. I do remember as a child going to ‘Polish Mass’ at the local RC church on a Sunday but have more vivid memories of the grumpy old priest who kicked the alter if the congregation came in later rather than the ‘strange’ language people spoke – the Mass was in Latin at that time!

Four nationalities reunited for Danuta's wedding celebration in 1972

It would have been wonderful to have been raised in a home where more than one language was spoken but people were much more nationalistic in their thinking in the post war years and unable to appreciate how knowing a language well also means understanding other people’s desires, needs and worries and perhaps leading to less of the historical turmoil I’ve written about above. Understanding of other languages can be a route for bringing people together rather than pushing them apart.

Class Danuta taught
in Handsworth, Birmingham
I taught young children in Handsworth, Birmingham
in the 1960s - my class had two thirds of the pupils from the West Indies, mostly second generation Jamaicans. The other third were from the Punjab and their mothers spoke very little English and were often housebound as a result. Their children often became excellent translators. I later came across children from many other countries during my teaching years and enjoyed finding musical and other ways to support their language and cultural needs.
During my years as a teacher I taught mainly 4-7 year olds; young children are much more comfortable than adults singing in an unfamiliar language even if they do not always understanding the meaning. So many songs and rhymes have nonsense words in them, just think of the pleasure these words give even us older souls when these words rhyme and have rhythm. Young children greet foreign and unknown words with the same interest and alertness! I remember stopping my older child as a three year old from persisting in "naughtiness" with words  that he had not heard before – it worked a treat.

Awareness of other lives, cultures and languages gave me a delight in the singing traditions of other countries - hence the website and You Tube channel once I retired. You can find many songs and singing games in their original language and in translation on my website at: Singing Games for Children. I also have a YouTube channel , where I sing non-English songs mostly in translation. I sing the French ones in their original language though I have to rely on my rusty 0 level French to do so. How I’d love to be able to sing the Polish ones in their original language!

Danuta Rosevear: Born 1946

Please contact me, if you are interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent.

You might also like reading:

"No English!" Motivation is the key.

7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings. 

Life Story: Trilingual mama - trilingual kid. Why would it be any other way? 

Raising Bilingual / Multilingual child. Where to start? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

International, Bilingual schools and Early childhood education institutions in Rome, Italy


International and bilingual nursery, preschool, elementary, middle and high schools in Rome, Italy

If you live in Rome and are looking for an international school, a bilingual school or early childhood institution, or a school with French, English, Russian, German, Spanish as a primary language for your child look at this kindergarten and school's list.


Could you help make this list more complete?

I’d love your help so this list can be as complete as possible.

Is there a bilingual daycare or school in Rome, Italy that is not listed here?

Let me know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing at trilingualchildren [at] I’ll be happy to share it with other parents.  I hope this school list comes in handy for you either you are Italian and would like your child to learn a new language or an expat living in Rome.

Share your experience.

If your child attends or attended one of these schools, please leave a comment and tell us what you think about it.

What is named what in Italian Education.

Compulsory education in Italy is from 5 - 16 years, which includes 5 years of "Scuola Primaria" (Elementary school), 3 years of "Schuola Secondaria di primo grado" ( Middle School) and 2 years of
Scuola Secondaria di secondo grado ( High School)

Below are names of educational institutions in Italian and children's age:

"Asilo Nido"  (3 month - 3 years) 

"Scuola dell'Infanzia" or "Asilo" or "Scuola Materna"or ( 3 - 6 years)
Note: An earlier entrance is possible for children, who turn 3 years before 31 December based on availability.

"Scuola Pimaria" or "Scuola Elementare" ( 6 - 10 years)

"Scuola Secondaria di primo grado"  or "Scuola Media" or "Scuola Media Inferiore" (11-13 years)

"Scuola Secondaria di secondo grado" or Schuola Media Superiore (14-19 years)
different choice of schools: 
  • Liceo (Artistico, Classico, Linguistico, Musicale e Coreutico, Scientifico , delle Scienze Umane),  
  • Istituto Tecnico (Economico, Tecnologico )  
  • Istituto Professionale

If you'd like to learn more about Italian education system, read this article on Wikidedia

If you use any information form this website, please link back to me. Thank you!

List of Schools:


La Maisonnette
Trilingual School : Nursery school, Kindergarten, Elementary school, Summer school
Language: English - French - Italian

AGE: 3 month and up

Main school:
Via Treviso
29 00161 Roma
Tel. +39 06 44240517

Affiliated Centers:
Viale del Monte Oppio 7
00184 Roma
Tel. +39 06 4873185

Viale dell'Umanesimo 72-74
00144 Roma
Tel. +39 06 5910339

Via Alessandro Rolla, 5
00124 Infernetto (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 5053422

Via Olmetti 3z
00060 Formello (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 90405045
Cell. +39 3888708673

Via Tripolitania 175/181
00199 Roma
Tel. +39 06 86214960

Viale Liegi 48/c
00198 Roma
Tel: +39 06 64780765
Cell +39 333 4497994

Asilo Nido " Villa delle Rondine"
Bilingual Nursery
Language: French - Italian and English
Age: 3 month -  3, 5 years
Via delle Fornaci 251-265
00165 Roma
Tel. +39 06 45434731
Cell +39 339 3950192

Lycée Chateaubriand
Kindergarden,  Primary and Secondary School
Language: French 
Age: 3 - 17
Via di Villa Ruffo, 31 (Kindergarden)
00196 Roma
Tel: +39 06 441604501
Via di Villa Patrizi, 9 (Elementary school)
00161 Roma
Tel: +39 06 441604501

Institut Saint Dominique
Baby Parking, Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School
Language: French
Age: 13 month - 17 years
Via Igino Lega 5 / Via Cassia 1173
00189 Roma
Tel: +39 06 30310817

I Piccoli Delfini
Asilo Nido and  Bilingual Kindergarten ( Scuola Materna )
Languages: Italian - English, French
Activities for children age 4 - 10 years in English and French
Age: 0 - 6 years
via Giovanni Botero, 16a
00179 Roma
Cell  +39 392 3555513 - 320 0140352 - 329 5912920 - 320 0140086

Le Fate Turchine
Asilo Nido and Scuola Materna, Course of French for children once a week, plus private lessons, Theater for children in English ( age 3-6, 7-11 years)
Language: Italian , French once a week as a lesson, English theater
Age: 1 - 7 years
Via delle Fornaci di Tor di Quinto, 10
00191 Roma
Tel. +39 06 62280465


The Giving Tree
Bilingual Asilo Nido, Scuola dell'infanzia & English playgroup
Languages: Italian - English
Age: 3 month - 6 years
viale XXI Aprile 15
Tel. +39 06 83709708
Cell. +39 327 1959967

Bilingual Asilo Nido and Scuola Infanzia
Languages: English - Italian
Age: 4 month - 5 years
via del Casale Cavallari 14,
00156 Roma
Tel. 06 41222128
Cell +39 329 0783752

Little Star Daycare International School
Nursery and Kindergarten
Language: English
Age: 4 month - 5 years
via Cassia 344
00191 Roma
Tel. +39 06 33429578
Cell. +39 348 5450050

Il Nido e le Nuvole
Asilo Nido Bilingue & English courses for children 4-8 years old
Languages: English - Italian
Age: 4 month - 5 years
via Nomentana 331/A,
00162 Roma
Tel +39 06 45436798

ABC kids
Language: English
Age: 2,5 month - 6 years
via Giovanni Animuccia, 11
Tel +39 06 86206599

Greenwood Garden School
International Pre-school and Kindergarten
Language: English
Age: 2 - 6 years 
Via Vito Sinisi 5
00189 Roma
Tel. 063326-6703

Petranova International Institute
Asilo Nido, Scuola della Infanzia, Scuola Primaria, Scuola Secondaria di 1° Grado
Bilingual project 
Languages: Italian, English from age 4
Age:3 month - 13
Via Pavia, 23
00161 Roma
Tel. +39 06 44292551

Junior International Institute
Bilingual Elementary School (Scuola Primaria Bilingue), Secondary school ( Scuola Secondaria di 1° Grado)

Language: Italian - English
Age: 6 - 13 years
Via G.B. De Rossi, 48
00161 Roma
Tel. +39 06 44239356

Ambrit International School
Early Childhood,  Primary,  Middle School
Language: English
Age: 3 - 13 years
Via F. Tajani 50
00149 Rome
Tel. +39 06 5595305

American Overseas School of Rome
Pre-Kindergarten , Elementary , Middle,  High School,  Boarding
Language: English is the primary language.  All students study Italian. Other languages offered include Spanish, French and Mandarin.
Age: 3- 18 years
Via Cassia 811
00189 Roma
Tel. +39 06 334381

Castelli Kindergarten
Language: English
Age: 2,5 -6 years
Via dei Laghi, 8
00047 Marino (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 93661311

Castelli International School Rome
International, Bilingual Elementary and Middle School
Languages: English, Itaian
Age: 6-13 years
Via degli Scozzesi, 13
00046 Grottaferrata (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 94315779 

Core International School in Rome
Nursery,  Primary School
Language: English , Italian starts from age 5
Age: 3 - 11 years
Via Crati 19
00199 Roma
Tel. +39 06 8411137

Marymount International School
Early Childhood to Grade 12
provided ESL teacher support
Language: English
Age: 3 - 17 years
Via di Villa Lauchli 180 (Via Cassia Antica Km. 7)
00191 Roma
Tel. +39 06 3629101

Rome International School
Kindergarten , Elementary, Middle and High School
Languages: English
Age: 2-18 years
Via Panama, 25
00198 Roma
tel. +39 06 84482650 - 06 84482651

St. Francis International School
Early Childhood , Primary and Middle School
Language: English
Age: 3 - 13 years
Via S. Borgia 85
00168 Roma
Tel. +39 06 35511023

St. George's  British International School
Preschool, Elementary, Middle and High school
Language: English
Age: 3-18 years
Via Cassia Km. 16
00123 Roma
Tel. +39 06 3086001

St. Stephen's School
Day and Boarding International High School
Language: English is required as a first language, Italian and French are optional as first languages
Age: 14 -19 years
Via Aventina 3
00153 Roma
Tel. +39 06 5750605

Southlands English School in Rome
Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools
Language: English, French and Italian from age 5
Age: 3- 18 years
Via Teleclide 40
00124 Casalpalocco (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 5053932

The New School Rome
Nursery, Kindergarten, Primary, Secondary School
Language: English
Age:  3- 18 years
Via della Camilluccia 669
00135 Roma
Tel. +39 063294269

Kendale Primary International School
Pre-school, Elementary School
Language: English is the primary language, Italian, French introduction from 7 years
Age:3-10 years
Via Gradoli, 86
Rome, 00189
Tel. +39 06 33267608

Little Genius International
Nursery and Primary School, Children's Afterschool English language course, Playgroup, Summer school
Language: English is the primary language, Italian (daily lessons)
Age: 2-10 years
Via Grotte Portella 28
Frascati 00044 (RM)
Tel. +39 06 97245148
Mobile: +39 346 0823360



Secondary School of Russian Embassy in Rome
Cредняя школа при посольстве России в Италии
Language: Russian
Age: 6 - 16  years
Villa Abamelek
Via Cava Aurelia 199
00165 Roma
Tel.+39 06 634800, 06 4440080


La Scuola Svizzera di Roma
Bilingual Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle and High School
Language: German - Italian
Age: 2- 18 years
Via Marcello Malpighi 14
00161 Roma
Middle and high school:
via Savoia 15
00198 Roma
Tel +39 06 4402109

Deutsche Schule Rom - Scuola Germanica Roma
Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School
Two diplomas: German abitur and Italian maturità
Languages: German with  excellent  knowledge of Italian, English, Latin and French
Age: 3 - 18 years
Via Aurelia Antica 397-403
00165 Roma
Tel. +39 06 6638 776


Liceo Espanol Cervantes
Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School
Language: Spanish
Age: 3 - 18 years
Via di Porta San Pancrazio, 9
00153 Roma
Tel. +39 06 5882252

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language.

multilingual family interview

You are a bilingual or a trilingual family living abroad.  You and your spouse have been speaking your mother tongues since the child’s birth.  And here you realize that the school time is approaching soon. You are worried how your child would do at school, since you did not teach your child the country language. 

How would he go to school in the community language?  Will he be able to communicate?  What can I do to help him?  These and many other questions I asked Richard and Agnieszka, English and Polish speakers, who found their home in Spain.  They are successfully raising trilingual children, who speak English, Polish and Spanish everyday.

Question 1:  Where do you live now and where did you live before?

Answer:  We live in Madrid. We moved here from the Netherlands in 2006 when our eldest was 18 months. He was born there. We moved without children to the Netherlands from Poland in 2003.

Question 2:  How many children do you have and what are their ages?

Answer:  Gavin will be 10 in 2 months , Veronica is 7 1/2, and Nicolas is 3 1/2.

Question 3:  Please describe your multilingual family language situation. Who speaks what language? What language approach do you follow?

Answer: My (Richard's) native language is English. Aga's is Polish. But we both speak these languages and Spanish pretty (Aga very) comfortably. My Polish is the worst, but still I almost never fail to understand conversations involving our kids.
Aga and I both only ever speak our respective native languages to the children (unless, rarely, we want some third party to understand). And the children universally speak to us in that same language.
The children (notably Veronica at the moment) do however quite often mix languages - but the syntax and base vocabulary make the language that they are fundamentally speaking very clear. The mixing is largely attaching endings from one language to words from another and in non-basic vocabulary.
Agnieszka and I speak to each other in Polish and English in roughly equal proportions.

Question 4:  At what age did your children get exposed to the community language and how (daycare, playgroups, television at home…)?

Answer:  Our kids were all introduced to Spanish in nursery school. All went for at least a year before starting school proper - which starts very early here - almost universally in the September of the calendar year when the child turns 3. Neither Gavin nor Veronica had any problems of note by the time they reached school (not even much in Nursery). Nicolas seemed to adapt similarly well to Nursery. But when he just recently started school he was slow to start speaking to his teachers. This problem seems now to have considerably faded.
Television I see as an important way to broaden their exposure to English (and Polish). But they do watch a reasonable amount to TV in Spanish.

Question 5.  What language Gavin and Veronica started speaking to each other? Did their language preference change over time?

Answer:  Until I guess about 18 months ago they still spoke to each other regularly in all three languages, Spanish having arrived last, but around then I noticed that they switched to almost always speaking Spanish.
I suspect that the first language that they spoke to each other was probably Polish, but in fact I don’t remember, so it may be that they used Polish or English depending on the context. I guess Polish because Veronica had a Polish woman looking after her during the day when she was 1-2. But at this point Gavin’s English may still have been better than his Polish.
Currently Gavin and Veronica Speak only (or almost only) Polish with Nicolas.

Question 6:  How old were the children when started a nursery school? Did I understand right that they were about 2 years old?

Answer:   Gavin was about 20 months, Veronica about 28 months, and Nicolas about 27.

Question 7.  What school did your children go to (bilingual immersion school, regular school...)?

Answer:   Bilingual in theory – part of a Madrid programme for bilingualism in state-funded schools. They are taught almost half the time in English (from 6 years old). But there are almost no other non-Spanish-native pupils, and English is not used at all apart from in lessons.

Question 8.  What languages as subject do they study there?

Answer:  English is taught from 3, and more seriously from 6. I worry a bit that this could bore our kids, but it doesn’t seem to have been a big problem yet. Gavin, I believe, has mostly learned only spelling in lessons at school, so I expect it is or will be, at best, a significant waste of time.
They are also taught French, at low intensity, from 6.

Question 9.  When your children went to school, how did they integrate? What was their proficiency level of community language? Were you and / or teachers concerned?

Answer:  We had sent them to nursery specifically to help avoid this sort of problem. And it seemed to work better than I expected. Even just one year.
The teachers were a little concerned initially – but positive. Gavin’s first teacher – a veteran of probably 30 years’ experience and a very good teacher it turned out – shocked me by telling me that he had NEVER had a non-Spanish-native child in his class. There are almost no immigrants in the area we are in.
However Gavin and Veronica may have been a little quiet at first, but when I ask about their level of Spanish I was told it was indistinguishable from that of the other kids. As mentioned earlier, Nico was even more quiet, but is now improving.

Question 10.  What did you do, if anything, to support your children at school?

Answer:  I use Khan Academy with both Gavin and Vero for maths. But with regard to language there has been no need.

Question 11:  What language do you speak to them, when you help them with homework?

Answer:  (Richard) English, throwing in the odd Spanish word to make sure they know it for class. Except when (only occasionally) helping with Spanish language homework in which case I speak Spanish mostly.

Question 12:  What do you think is important for a parent to do or pay attention to in order to insure that children’s knowledge of the community language is enough for performing well at elementary school?

Answer:  For us nursery was enough. More recently I also allow them to watch a fraction (maybe 1/3) of TV in Spanish. This primarily so they have the vocabulary (mostly character names etc) to talk to their school-friends.

Question 13:  Many parents are worried, that their child might have a communication problem with peers. That they are going to be teased because of an accent or inability to express her/himself in the community language at the same level as kids of their age do. Could you share your experience in this regards?

Answer:  Our kids have not to our knowledge experienced this sort of problem. Any trouble with peers has been for other reasons. We may be helped in this regard by the fact that 'school' in Spain starts so very early. Some kids are still well short of turning three - and so presumably some native monolinguals also barely speak.

Question 14:  How did you help the kids to understand how to separate 3 languages and improve their speech skills?

Answer:  We didn't do anything specific here other than try to expose them to plenty of all three languages through different media.

Question: 15:  In what language did your children learn to read and write first? Did you teach them? If yes, how did you do it?

Answer:  English. I taught Gavin and Veronica before the school started on reading. But I taught only reading - almost no writing. I used phonics books from a couple of different series (Jolly Phonics and Oxford Songbirds principally) then used a lot of Usborne graded readers. In addition I used flash cards (also from Usborne), showed then a nice BBC series, Alphablocks, and more recently used the online learning game Reading Eggs.  (Click to read more about mentioned phonics resources)

I would like to thank this wonderful family for the interview and for this unique opportunity Richard and Agneszka are giving us to learn more about what awaits us, parents to be and parents with small kids.

If you would like to share your family experience,  whatever it is good or bad,  feel free to contact me

Are you successfully raising bilingual or multilingual children? or do you have regrets about something you have not done on time? Please do not keep it for yourself, share it with other parents, by writing a comment or by contacting me for an Interview or by joining great contributors in the Life Story series. You will help thousands of readers!

Resources for Teaching Phonics and Reading to Children:

Alphablocks is children's educational television program. It aims to teach children how to spell with the use of animated blocks representing each letter.

Phonics with Alphablocks on Amazon

Alphablocks on YouTube

Jolly Phonics is a systematic synthetic phonics program designed to teach children to read and write. Children learn the letter sounds, rather than the alphabet. They are then taken through the stages of blending and segmenting words to develop reading and writing skills.

Jolly Phonics on Amazon

Jolly Phonics on Youtube

Oxford Songbirds make phonics fun! Series of 60 stories by Julia Donaldson. Levels 1 to 6 .

Oxford Songbirds on Amazon

Usborne First Reading - book series by Usborne publiser that is based on the principles of synthetic phonics. There are 7 books in each series and each book in the series builds on material in the previous books.

Usborne Very First Reading on Amazon 
Usborne Start to Read pack on Amazon

Usborne Very First Reading website -  learn more about the books, how they work. Information for parents and teachers. Plus resources with extra reading and wring practices. Printable sheet of practice words, fun activities and recording of the sounds of 44 phonemes

Reading Eggs - online reading application, where children are able to progress at their own rate.

Visit Reading Eggs website for more info.

Reading Eggs on Amazon

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Life Story. Our trilingual story: It’s all Greek, Italian and French to me!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Good Reads: to set mood for Halloween - Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat book, audiobook, song with notes

Multilingual Reads - great books that you can find translated in different languages!

Halloween is approaching and I have a great chapter book that would put your child into the Halloween mood! Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat  is a children's novel written by Ursula Moray Williams, an English writer. It is translated into Italian, Spanish, German and Russian. Plus it is available as an audiobook in all those languages!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life Story. Our trilingual story: It’s all Greek, Italian and French to me!

Welcome to Life Story series. Collection of stories from parents and multilinguals around the world! Today's guest is Marina -  bilingual by birth and now multilingual mama - who is telling us about her experience in raising trilingual children in Brussels. 


Marina Kaffe:  I was born in Italy and raised in Greece. My father was Greek but spoke at home (very good) Italian with my mum so at home it was Italian for me and outside Greek. It was a piece of cake to learn both. I went to university in Italy and perfectionized it there. I actually dream in both languages, some words are definitely easier in one or another language. I have, I would say, definitely a bilingual mind, split and bipolar. English I learnt at school very soon and then at the Uni. I also speak French but in no way fluently. I really find great and lots of fun learning new languages and this I think I have definitely taken because of my bilinguality.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

List of children's books in Polish language - Lista książek po Polsku dla dzieci


Big thanks to Emilia Pallado, who sent me this great list of children's books in Polish language so I can in turn share it with all of you! Emilia is a mother of two trilingual children, who are bilingual in Polish and Spanish from birth, and have been learning English at school.

Dear Emilia - Thank you! Dziękuję! Gracias!

Książki dla dzieci od urodzenia

Marta Bogdanowicz (opracowanie) – Rymowanki – Przytulanki

Jan Brzechwa - Wiersze i bajki

Julian Tuwim - Wiersze dla dzieci

Aleksander Fredro - Paweł i Gaweł

Maria Konopnicka dzieciom


Książki dla dzieci od 3 lat

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to develop early phonemic awareness and reading readiness by using language play with kids from birth to preschool.

As I already mentioned in the 7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read, before child learns to read he needs to learn how to separate  phonemes (speech sounds). It is better for parents and kids to start working on it as early as possible, since in reality it does not require anything special.  So what can you do to help your child develop phonemic awareness? - It’s quite simple: just sing, read and play. Play using the language and play with the language!

When your child is born, start singing to her/him. 

The first recorded lullaby is dating around 2000 BC. According to the researchers, lullabies prepare child's ear and brain for language.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Life Story: Sometimes knowing a language is worth it for its literature alone.

It is easy to learn languages as a baby and be bilingual from birth. But many of us, including the parents raising those lucky bilingual children, have a different story. Some were born and raised monolingual until leaving the country as teenagers, some - as adults. Andrey left his home country when he was 10 years old and moved to US with his parents. There he started a new life and learned a second language. He has also learned how to preserve his mother tongue and this gave his life a different spin - he started translating the poetry and putting his own thoughts into rhyme. He is also raising a bilingual daughter.

My name is Andrey. I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. I remember my childhood, as most kids remember theirs, carefree and easy-going. I spend most of my summers with my grandparents, either from my mother’s side, in Pishchulino, a small village some five hours drive south of Moscow or from my father’s side, in Pyatigorsk, a city in southwestern part of Russia, known for its mountains and mineral springs. In Pishchulino, I learned how to collect mushrooms, pick berries, and play card games. In Pyatigorsk, my cousin and I would make water guns from old shampoo bottles, and run around with local kids, spraying one another. During the long winter months in Moscow, I would spend a lot of time outdoors, playing in the snow. My brother, who is six years older than I am, always had many friends and he would reluctantly drag me with him from one party to the next.

As a child, I did not ever think about the economy, politics, the army draft that was looming over my brother’s head, or future in general - that was my parents’ job, and so it was somewhat of a surprise when they had decided to follow my aunt and uncle and immigrate to New York.  I was ten at the time. I remember feeling anxious and excited at the same time, elated and depressed. I did not know what awaited me on the other side of the ocean. I knew that the chances of me coming back to Russia in the near future were slim. The evening before we left,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What language multilingual family speaks at the table?

Every evening the whole family is gathered at the table. We speak to each other. Kids laugh at their misbehaves.  I am getting stressed that they do not eat and that my son, who is learning to cut food with a knife, periodically waves with it and his sister follows him with a fork.  All things are like in a common family with two or more little children on board. The only difference, we add more turmoil -- we speak three languages at the table.  My children and I speak Russian to each other, my husband speaks Italian with them and English with me. Sometimes we become as laud as Italians in a restaurant, when one table tries to outshout  the others, with the only difference -- we are all seating at the same table -- in our home!

Soon our children, who are 2 and 4 years old, will grow up. The chaotic dinners should get more civilized tone. (I started writing this post some time ago, now the kids are almost 3 and 5 years old and have made significant behavioral progress :) ) Every month we are slowly getting  a chance to discuss topics that are interesting to all four of us. We use our "language scheme" (Father + Child = Italian, Child + Child and Child+Mother = Russian, Father+Mother= English) and it works for us so far. We do not get bothered by not speaking the same language. The questions I have:

Would things stay the same way after a couple of years?
Would we all feel comfortable having a conversation in all three languages at once?

It won't be a problem for me as I speak well our trilingual family languages Italian, English and Russian. It might be a slight problem for my husband. Hopefully his level of Russian will improve together as children master the language.  Everyday he tries more and more to join our conversation in Russian. The children are slowly learning English and, who knows, one day they might actually join our, for now parents only, conversations in English.

I wonder how other multilingual families "language at the table" situation evolved over time. Did you come to the common denominator and stop on one language? Or you still use all the multilingual family languages? Does it bother you not to have one single language at the table? Please leave a comment for me and readers to know what you think.

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What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.

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