The Journey of Teaching Your Child Italian... My Experience
Teaching my son to speak Italian has been an adventure, but one that so far — dita crociate! (fingers crossed) — has paid off. I am a lover of the Italian language and with the death of my grandmother in the fall of 2009, I have no one left in the family (at least in the US) with whom to speak Italian... except my son, Maurizio. The method we have used ("so far, so good") is that from even before he was born, I have only spoken to him in Italian, while my husband speaks only English to him. Of course we speak English to each other. I noticed from the beginning that Maurizio was separating out the Italian from the English... using "plane" to speak to Papà and "aereo" to speak with me. Wow! I admit, though, for a while I didn't think it would work and that he'd end up defaulting to English, and more than a few people commented that I was confusing him (and therefore it was delaying him speaking at all!), but I persevered — stubborn as I can be, and passionate as I am about Italian! — and somewhat overnight (he was over 2 years old) he started speaking — both languages. Whew. At the age of 3, he began asking, " Come si dice in inglese?" (How do you say that in English?) or if he only knew the English, "Come si dice in italiano?"Who knows how it will play out? All I can do is continue on and maybe his having been exposed to Italian from a young age will help him to develop a passion for not just the beautiful Italian language and an appreciation for his Italian heritage, but for language learning in general.
I would love to hear anyone else's experience with teaching their child Italian... or any other second language. Suggestions? Challenges?