As every year Scarlett’s German blossomed in our one month holidays in Germany. Before the summer Scarlett spoke a lot of Italian to me, but at her grandparents’ she used German right from the start, without mixing in any Italian. Initially she was a bit slower and sometimes she couldn’t think of the right word, but she regained speed and fluency quickly.

Every day she used new expressions and her language became more refined. Towards the end of our stay, after a month, we went camping with friends and Scarlett played with a German girl of her age. Scarlett seemed almost mother-tongue, she was talking freely and German didn’t limit her at all.

Almost mother-tongue as she sometimes makes mistakes children who have grown up in Germany wouldn’t make. The odd grammatical mistake or some expressions which are not really idiomatic, but are translated from Italian, especially when it comes to children’s slang. Scarlett is usually aware of this. Once I overheard her saying to her friend: “Ich weiss nicht so gut wie man das auf Deutsch sagt …” When she then said what she had in mind it wasn’t even a problem, because we are not talking about real mistakes but phrases that could be expressed better

What gives Scarlett away as not being a real mother-tongue speaker is her pronunciation. Generally she pronounces all sounds properly but there are some which sound Italian. Above all her ‘r’. She rolls it like Italians do. Our friends always underline how sweet Scarlett’s slight Italian accent is and it doesn’t affect understanding at all. Still it would be nice if she could get rid of it. I wonder whether this accent would fully disappear, if she stayed longer in Germany or whether it has already become part of Scarlett’s individual pronunciation. Whenever we are in Germany her accent becomes weaker with time, but at least after a month it is still there.

On a general level the four weeks in Germany worked wonders, as always. In August, when we returned to Italy, Scarlett continued speaking German to me all the time. And not only her German had improved greatly, also English remained strong. More than a month after we returned from our week in England, Scarlett’s English grandmother rang. Scarlett spoke English to her all the time, something she wouldn’t have done before the summer. She was sometimes struggling to find the right words but never resorted to Italian. The week in England apparently had changed something in Scarlett’s mindset.

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