Today’s article is a guest post by Tomedes written by Ofer Tirosh. Tomedes translation company shares practical tips and insights into how to inspire a love of Italian in the next generation.
Children learn in myriad ways, absorbing information through their experiences and their senses. Young children love to learn through play and often don’t even realise they’re doing so. With this in mind, we’ve taken a fresh look at learning Italian, from language games and activities for family fun at home to ways to engage all the senses in the learning journey.
Is it easy to learn Italian? Yes, it can be, with the right mix of engaging resources. Italian is one of the easiest languages for English-speakers to learn, according to the Foreign Services Institute. Let’s find out how to inspire your children to do just that.
Sensory language learning and translation activities
One of the best ways to inspire a love of the Italian language in your children is to let them learn through sensory experiences. Both cooking and music can do wonders in this respect.
Italy is one of the planet’s most exciting culinary destinations. Food is intrinsically linked with Italian culture, so why not use it to excite your children about the language? Making pasta can be a fun-filled family activity, so why not find a simple set of instructions in Italian and help your children translate as you cook?
For older children, recipes can be more complex, with the children themselves undertaking the translation. Even pre-schoolers can get involved; you can introduce each ingredient or process (stirring, rolling, boiling, etc.) with the Italian word, allowing them to absorb the language as they help. Add in a few extra words at mealtime for good measure.
Music is another wonderful way to get children fired up about learning. It’s also a huge part of Italian culture. While Italy is known around the world for its opera, everything from nursery rhymes to folk music can help your children learn while having fun (my own children delight in singing Bella Ciao to each other!).
Turning translation services into games
There are all sorts of games that you can play to help children love learning Italian. You can prepare them in advance or translate on the fly for a quick activity. “Find me” is always fun and good for getting kids moving. Say “Find me” in Italian, followed by the name of a household object. The children have to translate your meaning and then rush to find the object in question. Simple, free and fun!
Older children can play hangman with each other or you can engage them in a fast-paced game of translation against the clock, using flashcards and a timer to see who can set the best record for the highest number of words translated in one minute. When it comes to games, the only limit is your imagination!
Using modern translation resources
Cartoons are a great way to help children of all ages learn and to ensure that they love the experience. You don’t have to simply plonk them in front of a screen – you could discuss the cartoon with them afterwards or ‘play’ it, repeating key words and phrases as part of the game. Printing colouring pictures of the main characters and talking about them in Italian will also feed into building a love of learning the language.
The internet also offers the chance to connect your children with penpals around the world, including those who speak Italian. There are many well respected websites dedicated to helping you find penpals for your little ones to correspond with. This can be a really exciting way for your child to learn about childhood in Italy, as well as the language itself. Exchanging letters, pictures, sweets and so forth with a new Italian friend can be a lovely adventure that captures a child’s interest perfectly.
Translate language learning into real life
One brilliant way to instil a love of learning in your children is to hold an Italian day. From Italian food to dressing up as famous or historical characters, create a themed day that has Italy at its heart. You can include anything in the day’s learning: national sports, art, science, religion, politics… Why not include a lesson on where the Italian language came from as well? Use Italian-themed quizzes/competitions with prizes to keep the fun going throughout the day.
How quickly can I learn Italian? As we mentioned above, it’s one of the easier languages for English-speakers to learn, with general proficiency in reading and speaking achievable in around 575-600 hours of study. One qualitative study that explored the language choices of bilingual families found that the dynamic ways in which family language policy is interactionally constructed and instantiated can have a significant impact. Inspiring a love of language from an early age can make a huge difference – as well as making language-learning really fun!
Original image by 1494202