Scarlett’s Italian was already good a few months ago, but now it is really flourishing. She is talking like a waterfall, her vocabulary is rich, her sentences are long and detailed. It is easy for me to monitor her progress in Italian as she even speaks Italian to me (which obviously is a bit disappointing). I continue speaking German, she perfectly understands, but struggles to say things herself. It seems as if all her thoughts and experiences are stored in Italian.

Most of the time Scarly speaks Italian to me, but after spending some time together she slowly gets back into German. Often she starts by repeating what I say. When I said: ”Ich bin im Meer geschwommen” (German for: “I have swum in the sea”), she answered: “Auch ich bin im Meer geschwommen” (German for: “I have also swum in the sea”). When we did a puzzle, she said: “Das Stueck passt hier rein” (German for: “The piece fits in here”), but only after I had said it several times before. Scarlett’s German sentences are far less elaborated than Italian and she makes mistakes: “Ich nicht gehen ins Schwimmbad” (German for: I not go to swimming pool”).

There are however thoughts and ideas which are only stored in German. When she plays with her Snow-White-figures, she speaks all the different characters in German. Same with “Räuber Hotzenplotz”, a beautiful story by German writer Otfried Preussler. Scarlett sometimes wants us to act out the story and says sentences like “Du bist Hotzenplotz und ich bin die Grossmutter. Ich mahle Kaffee” (German for: “You are Hotzenplotz and I am the grandmother. I am grounding coffee”). When reading one of her Conny books (another German children’s favourite), she says things like: “Der Diener beruehrt mit der Nase fast den Boden” (German for: The servant almost touches the ground with his nose”). Or when we listen to the German “Peter and the wolf” CD, Scarlett speaks only German: “Die Katze streicht um den Baum” (German for: “The cat is prowling around the tree”). In theses cases she speaks German spontaneously and reaches a high level of complexity.

It is also reassuring that after a time of full immersion Scarlett’s German comes back quickly. In May we spent ten days with the German grandparents and after a few days Scarlett got in the habit of speaking German again (Even though she still spoke a lot of Italian.)

Scarlett’s English seems to have improved a lot. She has been with her English grandma more often lately and her understanding is very good. She mainly speaks Italian also to her grandma, but comes up with more and more English the longer she stays with her. At home she often sings English songs like “Polly put the kettle on” which she picked up from an English CD we often play.

Sometimes she mixes English into her German: “Der fox hat auch Krallen” (German for: “The fox also has claws”, but she uses fox instead of the German ‘Fuchs’) or “Penny mit bucket in Höhle gelassen” (German for: Penny was lowered into the cave in a bucket”, where she uses ‘bucket’ instead of the German ‘Eimer’). The mixing had become quite strong after I returned from a school trip in March and Scarlett had not heard any German for more one week. She said things like: “Das sind different colours” (German-English for “These are different colours”) or “wir malen a little bit red” (German-English for “we colour a little bit red”).