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, Spanish). 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 entirely.
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.