We are a family of many languages, of, sometimes, our own
invented language. Of English, of Italian, of Portuguese, and of
whoever happens to be visiting at the time (German, Arabic, French,
My son's father, from Brazil, spoke solely
in Portuguese to him, from birth to age 2. Then he gave up, slowly
and over time, much to my dismay, when Fratellone (a.k.a. Big
Brother) responded to him in English and never Portuguese. But
Fratellone - he understood every word in Portuguese, and you could
tell him to do tasks in Portuguese and he'd do them, you could ask
him questions in Portuguese, and he'd understand, and answer
correctly, but in English. In the beginning, he spoke words in both
English and Portuguese, his first words being Mama,
DaDa and Agua. He stuck with those
three fundamental words for a long while, and it took him
longer to form sentences - but we were patient, knowing he was
being raised in a bilingual household. When he finally did
speak in sentences, he jumped from simple sentences to complex
ones in what seemed like a day. I am convinced that his exposure to
two languages from birth to two gave him a wider open mind to
language: when we first traveled together to Italy and he was
five, he caught on to Italian so quickly that he was able to answer
simple questions and explain what had happened to his arm (Mio
braccio e' rotto) within days; he loves reading and loves
jokes that involve wordplay. Sometimes his father still uses
Portuguese expressions, here and there, and Fratellone knows those
well. I am certain that one day, he'll travel to Brazil, and
Portuguese will sing its way back into his understanding
On June 29 from 4 - 7 pm, The Italian Cultural Institute
and Italidea will host a family open house. The event will commence
at 4 pm with Children's Corner. An Italian animation film for
children, "Pimpa" will be screened and snacks will be served.
Entertainment will be provided by Carly Ciarrocchi. At 5pm,
guests can visit the library and enjoy the exhibition of Lorenzo
Mattoti's drawings, magazine cover illustrations, comic book
narratives and commercial artwork. From 6-7 pm, visitors can
experience Italidea's sample Italian language lessons taught by
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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