When we went on a one-week trip to England this summer we were eager to see how good Scarlett’s English actually is. When Scarlett was born our plan was to turn her into a trilingual speaker, but what concerns English we somehow lost sight of this goal on the way. English has always been by far Scarlett’s weakest language, but in the past year her exposure to English had even dropped further. Scarlett overhears our English conversations, but she has spent less time with her English grandmother and our English speaking housekeeper.

Generally we had the impression that Scarlett understands English without problems, but we were not so sure about her ability to express herself. Scarlett usually answered in Italian to her grandmother and conversations with Teresa had become rather basic. So we were wondering in how far Scarlett would be able to interact properly with English children.

Scarlett passed the English test. Soon after we arrived she met an English girl of her age and they started jumping on a trampolin and doing cartwheels on the lawn. The girl explained something to Scarlett and soon after the two were talking. Scarlett was sometimes struggling for words, but she managed to communicate quite well right from the start. After some time she proudly came to me and said “Papa, una capriola is a flip, das habe ich erst nicht verstanden” (Italian-English-German for: A “capriola” is a flip, I haven’t understood at first).

The next day Scarlett played with other kids and quickly became more daring and more fluent. When we met English friends some days later Scarlett had already gained self-confidence and talked not only to the girl of her age but even to the girl’s grandmother. Of course Scarlett’s level of English is far behind her English peers but she has a solid base and is basically able to express what she wants to say: “Yesterday I go to the park and play with a girl”

There is still a long way to go before Scarlett can be considered real fluent, but in only one week she made great steps ahead. She still speaks only in the present tense, but her Italian accent has become much weaker and her capability of expressing herself has impoved greatly. If only Scarlett could stay for some time in an English surrounding, we now believe her English would sky-rocket.