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This year Q. has been able to keep up his summer German level for a long time. He fell back into speaking Italian to me on a daily basis quickly, but he showed an unwavering determination to try and use German when we had quality moments alone. Some weeks ago, however, German disappeared completely. But to me surprise Q’s German bounced back at once, when his German grandparents came to visit us for Easter: “Ich habe gebaut das Haus, guck hier mit einer Rakete” (German for:  I built the house, look, with a rocket) he said to them or “Ich habe Yoga in der Schule gemacht.” (German for: I did yoga in school). I breathed a sigh of relief. Quentin is able to activate his German whenever it is needed. Read the rest of this entry »


Four months have passed since the summer and Q.’s German has remained surprisingly stable. „Es hat geschneit.“ he said, when we were in Germany and he looked into the snow-covered garden one morning: „Ein Vogel hat draussen gegraben.“ (German for: It snowed. A bird has dug outside). Usually Q. does not go beyond saying single sentences and what he says is quite simple, but he is still able to bring across what is needed: „Ich habe ein Haus und eine Strasse“, he says playing Monopoly, or: „Ist schneller der Schiff oder der Auto?“, he asked when he looked at a book.

Keeping Q.’s German alive is a great success as usually our children’s German speaking slowly withers away when they return to their Italian surrounding. Read the rest of this entry »

When we were back in Milan from our summer holidays Q. wanted to show me some skateboard tricks: “Ich gehe Skateboard fahren,” he said, “Ist schoen Skateboard-Fahren. Komm anschauen” (German for: I go skateboarding, is nice skateboarding, come and look). There is no doubt that Q.’s skateboarding has improved a lot this year, but what I am really happy about is his progress in German. Q. finally made a big step ahead in his speaking.

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In our trilingual home there is a simple rule: we watch films in original language. And thanks to Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks English has become our default language. Everybody was fine with this rule until one day S.’s friends came for a sleep-over and watched a film in Italian. Some days later, when I wanted to set the language to English for our family cinema evening, S. started a little rebellion. She wanted to see the film in Italian, saying she would understand it much better. To my surprise Q. came to my aid and said: “Capisco lo stesso” (Italian for: I understand it the same). Read the rest of this entry »

The other day I read an article about plants in the desert. Some of them seem dead from the outside, but they survive long and dry periods in a bulb deep in the ground. When it then rains they blossom immediately. Exactly like Q.’s German, I thought: dormant most of the year, but the moment we go to Germany his German springs to life. Unfortunately the analogy does not end her. When we leave Germany and return to Italy German dries up quickly again. Read the rest of this entry »

For one year Quentin’s German had virtually disappeared, but this summer it came tiptoeing back. When we were in Germany for our long summer holidays Quentin still spoke Italian most of the time, but he slipped in more and more German words and used two or three word phrases again: “Jetzt kommt Papa” (German for: Now daddy comes). Every now and then he said longer phrases:  “Das ist ein Schwimmbad. Ein Becken.” (German for: This is a swimming bath. A pool.” or “Das ist eine Lanze und das ist ein Schwert.” (German for: This is a lance and this is a sword).

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When you listen to our family conversations it is not easy to understand what our language background is. On a typical family day out Scarlett and Quentin are speaking Italian to each other while Penny and I are talking in English; then suddenly Scarlett addresses me in German while Penny says something in Italian to Quentin. We all switch languages all the time. The only who doesn’t is Quentin. He speaks Italian no matter who he is talking to. And, thinking about it, this is not a bad idea. Quentin understands what everybody else says while he himself always talks in his strongest language. He has become a receptive multilingual, a person who speaks one language and understands the others.

Quentin’s level of understanding the different languages obviously differs. Read the rest of this entry »

In the past months Quentin has gained a lot of self-confidence in speaking Italian. He is chatting away at home, he talks a lot to his friends and he speaks more to adults. This is a big step ahead as Quentin has always been a shy boy and never talked much outside of the family. Last year he didn’t say a single word to his kindergarten teachers, this year he is still timid but he talks when there is the need. He also talks more to our neighbours and his friends’ parents.

I suppose Quentin’s new self-confidence has been boosted by his exploding language skills. Read the rest of this entry »

Quentin might have been a slow starter in his language learning, but once he picked up speed he didn’t fade for a second. In the twinkling of an eye he has caught up with his peers, who only half a year ago were linguistically light-years ahead of him. In Italian Quentin is now able to express all he wants to say, his vocabulary and grammar have exploded.

We couldn’t be happier about Quentin’s progress in Italian, but there is a catch to it. It seems as if Quentin paid for the Italian upswing by dropping the other two languages. Read the rest of this entry »

Quentin’s progress in Italian has definitely gained momentum. Grammar, sentence structure and above all vocabulary have improved a lot Read the rest of this entry »

Finally Quentin made a big leap forward. He is now able to say whole sentences and his vocabulary has grown a lo Read the rest of this entry »

Summer is over, we are back in Milan and little Quentin started going to the kindergarten. His language is improving slowly but he is still far behind his peers. While most kids of his age already speak fluently, Quentin’s language is still rather basic. There has, however, been great progress and we are confident he is on the right path. Read the rest of this entry »

Quentin is talking much more, but the quality of his output varies a lot. He is able to say complete little sentences: “Dopo andiamo a Kuh?” (Italian, German for: Later we go to the cow?), but most of the time he says single words.  Quite some times he is desperately struggling for words: “me … ahhh … prendo …  ahh … me … giu … brrrm … brrmm … weeeeeh”. Quentin has become very keen on communicating, but often he is not able to bring across what he wants to say. Read the rest of this entry »

Quentin has grown a lot, he is the tallest and strongest in his kindergarten group. Physically he is a prodigy. When he zooms down the street on his running bike or his scooter, people turn around in surprise. Quentin is a clever and curious little boy, he has become quite social and plays beautifully with his sister.

On the language level, however, he is far behind his peers. Read the rest of this entry »

Little Quentin is thriving and prospering, but his talking has remained rather minimalist. He is interacting a lot with his sister, his kindergarten friends and us, but doesn’t say much. Read the rest of this entry »

Scarlett’s little brother Quentin is already a toddler but this is the first time I talk about him in this blog. I proudly recorded and published every little sound his sister Scarlett produced, with Quentin I have been quiet until now. This is partly the fate of the second born as we all know from photo albums where there are millions of pictures of first borns and hardly any of the second. Partly however it is due to the fact that Quentin’s language production so far has not been very prolific.  Read the rest of this entry »

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