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.
If it is true that languages are vehicles, we are definitely well equipped in our family! My personal bilingual story began when I was born by an Italian lady and a Greek tall man (not usual I know). Hubby is not exactly bilingual but he has been acquainted with different languages and cultures because of his Italo-Greek descent too.
For us, even before we had kids, there was no other option but to pass them our double linguistic and cultural legacy. And so it was. Our beautiful son spoke his first Greek and Italian words with astonishing proficiency! Later on, when we moved “abroad" (what a funny world that changes according to your geographical position), the trilingual voyage began as we decided that our son would attend a local school, that is French-speaking. Oh, in this part of the world Dutch is also spoken and compulsory at school so there he was trying to learn another 2 languages!!! The poor kid, he was only 3,5 years old when for the first time in his life he wet his pants as he couldn’t ask the simple question that would have led him to the toilet! Yet along with time came proficiency, first in comprehension and a bit later (maybe in 6-7 months) in speaking.
A few years later our 7-year-old son is making fun of our pronunciation, our grammar, our everything in French, making us proud despite he pointing out our ehm… inefficiency :) He now speaks Italian with mum at home (and with granny on Skype), Greek with daddy (and extended family) and French with everybody else. Now that his little sister is here also I feel he hasn’t decided which language he will use with her, although I guess it will be French mostly to practice the favorite siblings' sports, namely making fun of parents. It has to be said that Dutch did not have a similar fortune probably because of little or not interesting exposure.
We read in all three languages, we watch movies and cartoons, we travel in our countries and my son has lately surprised us in reading and writing in such a different alphabet as the Greek one although he has not received formal education in it.
If multilingual kids are smarter then we have in our home 2 little geniuses!
One proud mama
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:
7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.
How to develop early phonemic awareness and reading readiness by using language play with kids from birth to preschool.
What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.
Life Story: Trilingual mama - trilingual kid. Why would it be any other way?
Read all multilingual parents stories in the Life Story series
Labels: Life story