Scarlett started walking at 14 months and since then has set out to explore the world. With this unlimited energy of children she runs up and down and to and fro all day long. Scarly is a curious and observing kid and her motorical skills have improved enormously. She is definitely not a baby any more but a cute little toddler.

Her understanding of what is happening around her has improved tremendously, both on a conceptional and a linguistic level. She understands a great deal of what we say to her. If I say “Holst du bitte deine Schuhe” (German for “Could you please get your shoes”) she goes and gets her shoes (This happened already at 15 months). If I ask her at table “Willst du noch etwas mehr haben” (“Do you want some more”) she answers with a clear “Ja” (Yes). If I say the word “Mond” (moon) she points at the moon, if I say “Flugzeug” (plane) she looks up at the sky to see whether there is a plane.

Scarly’s passive vocabulary has grown immensely. The other day we showed her a memory game for kids. The cards showed pairs of animals like ducks, cats or bears and objects like cars, boats or planes. We spread the cards on a blanket and then I asked Scarlett to get the card with the “Zug” (“train”). Without hesitation Scarlett gave me both the cards with the trains. Penny then asked her for the “coniglio” (Italian for “rabbit”) and Scarlett gave her the rabbit cards. She knew all the objects in the memory game.

Scarly still loves books more than anything. Again and again she comes to one of us with a big smile on her face and a book in her little hands. She then sits down on our laps and we leaf through the pages. We point at the objects and tell her the names. She then ponders for a moment and points at objects so that we say the word again. She already knows many words on each page, like for example “Koenig” (German for ‘king’), “Krone” (crown), “Hut” (hat), “Brille” (glasses) and so on. She also knows many words in Italian and English, but we have the feeling German is at the moment her strongest language.

It is not surprising that Scarly’s German has improved the most over he last months. I am working as a teacher. And for those who are not familiar with the Italian school system I can tell you that Italians have really, really long holidays. I had 10 weeks (!) of summer holidays.  So Scarlett has been with me almost 24 hours a day for two and a half months. The first four weeks we stayed at my parents in Germany, so Scarlett had one month of full immersion into German (her mum could only come and see us twice for a longer weekend). When we returned, Scarlett had virtually forgotten all her Italian, which came as a big shock to Penny. She then however remembered it all quickly and now her Italian understanding has almost leveled with German. We are now curious to see what happened with English as Scarly has not seen her English grandma for more than two months (but as Penny and me still speak English to each other we hope that also in English she will get back on track quickly)

Now to Scarlett’s active speaking skills. I read somewhere that with bilingual kids the understanding is the real indicator of  their linguistical progress. Parents should not worry if their children still don’t speak when other children are already babbling happily away. What a comfort for us. While Scarlett’s passive understanding has exploded her active speaking has remained rather limited. Most of the meaningful sounds she utters are animal noises but in this field she has gained absolute mastery. Amongst her best sounds are horses, dogs, roosters, and geese, but she is also good at cats, sheep, donkeys and so on.

When trying to make animal sounds for Scarlett I realised that often I did not have the foggiest idea what sounds they make. What is the sound of a giraffe, a rhinoceros or even a guinea pig?  I was also struggling with bears. I know a bear growls but my growling sounds not very bear-like. Disappointed of this shortcoming Scarlett decided not make the sound of a bear when she sees a picture but actually says a beautiful clear “Baer” (German for ‘bear’). Besides “Baer” and “Ja” she also says “mehr” (more) when she wants to have some more food and “Bo” when she refers to a “Boot” (boat). Then she says “Hallo” (Hello) and the universal “Papa” and “Mama”. In Italian she says “nonno” (grandpa) and “nonna” (grandma) and “Ciao ciao” (Hello, hello). In English she so far only says “bu” which stands for “book” (it sounds definitely English even if the German “Buch” sounds very similar).

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