Back from our holidays. In July we stayed for a month in Germany. We first flew to Lübeck  and spent two weeks at the Baltic see, first week all the family, second week only me, the kids and the German grandparents. Then we spent another two weeks at the grandparents’ place, where Penny came to see us twice for the weekend. So quite some full immersion.

Oma and Opa were once more well impressed by Scarlett’s German.  She was fluent from the very first day and was later flooding us with Why-questions, such as when we went into the natural history museum: “Warum schleppt der Leopard die Antilope auf den Baum?” (German for: Why does the leopard carry the antelope up on the tree?”), “Warum kämpfen die Männchen um die Weibchen?” (German for: Why do the males fight for the females?) or, when we happened to walk along the Stations of the Cross: “Warum haben die boesen Menschen Jesus ans Kreuz genagelt?” (German for: Why did the evil people nail Jesus to the cross?).

Scarlett’s topics of conversation are getting quite sophisticated and her language has become sophisticated enough to talk about it. Besides that she uses more idiomatic phrases:  “Ist dort ein Stift oder so was?” (Is there a pen or such a thing?). Every day of our stay Scarlett became more self-confident in German and at the end she even started speaking German to her little brother: “Was machst du, Bruder?” (German for: “What are you doing, brother?).

However good Scarlett has become in German, there are still situations when we notice she hasn’t grown up in Germany. When she meets German kids she hardly talks at the start. I suppose she becomes rather self-conscious as German kids often use a different kind of language. After all Scarlett is only exposed to adults speaking German, mainly me and her German grandparents. Once we met German friends and their daughter, who is about Scarlett’s age, said things like “Das ist geil” (German for: That’s wicked) or “Ich hau dir auf die Zwölf” (German for: “I’ll clock you one”). Scarlett is not familiar with this kind of language and then she still speaks with a slight Italian accent, which might make her even more self-conscious.

In English this problem would even be stronger as Scarlett speaks English only to her grandmother and then she listens to Penny and me. But then she has never been exposed to a real English setting. Her general development in English is however very positive. Before going to Germany Scarlett spent a week in Umbria with her English grandma and was speaking a lot of English to her. On a grammatical level Scarlett makes mistakes with negations: “I not read this book” and questions “When people marry, what wear they?”, but also English kids do that up to the age of four and it would be surprising if Scarlett was not a bit late with this. Apart from this Scarlett seems well able to express all she wants to say.

In our long holidays we also spent a week in the French alps. Scarlett was very interested in the French language. She was asking how you said things in French and then asked at breakfast whether we could give her the “fromage”, the “saucisson” or the “beurre”.

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