March 1st, 2021Posted By Naomi Weeks

Cath's Homespun Homeschool blog -01/03/21

This week, Italian-speaking Cath tells us how raising Ophelia and Rachel bilingual is going - with some handy tips for parents who want to do the same!



Ophelia and Rachel’s Nonno (grandpa) is Italian and their mum, Annie, has been gallantly speaking Italian to them since birth and I’ve been helping. Neither of us are native Italian speakers but we’re reasonably fluent and, miraculously, the girls can both now understand Italian, at least our version of it. Up to now, I was trying to use Italian for all my contact with the girls but I’ve slipped into English over the past few weeks. It wasn’t a deliberate choice, more an unconscious move, but I guess it seemed more natural for the long hours together and particularly for the homeschooling.

Neither of the girls usually reply to us in Italian although they will use some words and phrases like ‘buona notte’ (goodnight) and some amusing Italianisations, like ‘No, Nonna, I haven’t scrived that’ (scrivere = to write). This week when Annie commented that O’s drawings were ‘belli’ (beautiful) she asked, ‘Which is the ‘belli-est?’


We are really keen to recruit more native speakers to chat to us and I’ve discovered a perfect café on our daily walks. It’s run by two Italian girls, one from Brescia and one from Torino and sells coffee and cakes and sandwiches - take-away at the moment of course but a welcome, warm stopover in the miserable weather. While we choose from the yummy selection, the ‘assistenti’ are happy to have a little chat to O in Italian. She’s too shy to reply but is keen to go there regularly…I’m hoping for the Italian, not the cakes.


At b small, we publish a huge range of excellent language learning books for young children but the economics of the business means that we can only cover French and Spanish, not Italian. So this week I’ve made a home-made Italian edition of two of our favourite I Can Read storiesI Want My Banana and Puppy Finds a Friend. They are both perfect for early reading practice as the text has lots of repetition and O seems interested in the Italian words as I point to them while reading.


We can also read some of the Italian editions of our titles that are published by our Italian co-edition partners, for example, The Histronauts



A co-edition means that we have sold the rights to the book to a foreign publisher and they publish it in their market as their own publication. They send us their translated text and we print and deliver the finished copies to them. More than 50% of b small’s business is foreign rights and co-editions so our books have appeared in over 35 different languages from French and German to Georgian, Montenegran and Mandarin Chinese.

For the end of the day, the children’s TV selection includes several Italian cartoons: Peppa Pig (my favourite) and most blockbuster series are available in other languages (see our previous blog about this). Although O would prefer to watch Frozen I & II for the nth time and R always calls out for Disney’s Moana, they also get absorbed in the action of the Italian cartoons like Netflix’s Kiki Consegna a Domicilio, about a little witch who does home deliveries on her broomstick, and cope with the more challenging language. A sudden thought, Frozen must be available in Italian - sure enough, Il Regno del Ghiaccio (The Frozen Kingdom). Something to check out next week.


If you are interested in language learning and raising your children multilingual, sign up to the b small language quarterly newsletter below for free resources!  




Cath's blog will be posted every Monday right here on the b small website - so stay tuned! 
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