Interview with Mammaprada: How To Raise A Bilingual Household
Raising a bilingual household has its own unique set of challenges. We spoke to linguist and mamma blogger, MammaPrada, to find out her top tips for encouraging bilingualism in your children; where parents can find support and how to get started with blogging.
MammaPrada is a great resource for parents; could you tell us more about it and how it first came about?
MammaPrada was created due to my Italian husband and I trying and testing lots of language learning resources with our children. We’ve been looking to find what works and what doesn’t as we are raising our children bilingually. I started to realise that this was information which could be useful to other parents and that people were also interested in how we’re combining our cultures at home. We also feature our favourite things and brands we come across from both Italy and the UK.
What have your own language learning experiences been like?
My husband arrived in London 17 years ago and had a very steep learning curve! He knew very little English but now speaks it brilliantly. He’s often mistaken for being English.
I learnt French and German at school but rarely used them afterwards which is a great shame (I plan to go back to them!). I started learning Italian just before I met my husband. I have been studying it on and off, between having children, ever since!
What was the moment you first realised you wanted to raise a bilingual child? Have you encountered any difficulties in doing that?
I think as we’re both very open to other cultures we have always wanted our children to learn both of our languages. It’s harder learning as an adult (although not impossible) so to have two languages from birth we do see as a gift.
Raising a bilingual child like any aspect of parenting will always have challenges. When children are very small they just copy. My daughter who is about to turn two just picks up everything she hears and repeats it.
My son however is now five so although he now understands and speaks two languages, he notices that he is different to some of his friends. There are times when he thinks that’s brilliant – he recently wrote some phrases in Italian to take to school. Then there are times where he doesn’t want to speak Italian because it takes more effort.
Have you had the chance to speak with any other parents in a similar situation to yourself?
Yes, living in London we are exposed to lots of parents of different nationalities or who speak several languages. We also hold play dates with other bilingual children, we share tips and discuss challenges we’re having or things we’ve tried that really help our little ones.
What do you think are the main benefits of being bilingual?
Being bilingual is beneficial for many reasons. Should you ever wish to travel, work abroad or work with people from another country you will be seen on a more equal footing. We forget that actually the majority of the world speak more than one language and this is not exceptional, it’s considered the norm.
But most importantly speaking other languages improves your understanding of the world and other cultures. It creates empathy and acceptance that diversity can be a positive thing. We start to realise we are not all that different from one another, we just express ourselves in different ways.