It is end of October, school started almost two month ago and our long summer holidays in Germany are a distant memory. In former years I always sat down right after the holidays to write my blog, as I was so thrilled about S.’s language improvements. This year it wasn’t so spectacular. S.’s German has generally become so stable that she manages to switch between German and Italian without problems all year round, the summer boosting effect has become less striking.   

The summer boost may have become less striking, but without doubt S. still benefits greatly from a whole month of full immersion. She becomes more fluent and more refined in her speaking. She picks up the little details and peculiarities of the language that you can only learn in the country itself. In her case it is often the typical children’s language, which is very important as she usually gets her German only through adults.

Whenever we go to Germany S.’s default language changes from Italian to German in no time. Until we board the plane she speaks Italian, when we enter the grandparents’ house she swaps to German. Her level of German has become really good, she speaks fluently without any difficulties. There is room for improvement though.

S.’ makes some mistakes mother tongue speakers wouldn’t make. Such as getting the third person possessive pronoun wrong: “Lily liest in seinem Buch” (anstatt ihrem Buch)” (German for: Lily reads in his book) or using the wrong relative pronoun: “Der Mann, das die Strasse entlang geht.” Both mistakes are due to the fact that Italian has different rules concerning possessive and relative pronouns.

These are minor mistakes though and according to her German grandparents S. is very precise and differentiated in her use of vocabulary and expresses herself well. Generally people wouldn’t think German is S.’s second language, if it weren’t for a slight Italian accent. Most of the sounds she pronounces perfectly well, but a slightly rolled ‘r’ gives her away as Italian influenced. Again a minor issue.

What S. needs now to further improve her German is quality input from different sources. Our hopes lie in reading. In Italian she has become an ardent reader in the past two years, she is devouring books. In German she also started reading some time ago, but she said she found it much more difficult. The books she read were therefore rather short and simple. This seems to be changing.

This summer we went to the local library in Germany and Scarlett got two “Bibi Blocksberg” books, written in big letters for beginning readers. She finished them in two days, so we returned to the library and got a proper book. She read “Die wilden Huehner” without problems. Then she got the next proper book “Lotta Leben” and read also this without batting an eyelid.

 

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