Reading with my bilingual toddler

One of my sons favourite books at this moment is ‘Bumba, oogjes dicht’ (Bumba, close your eyes). A great bedtime story. My son is 20 months old now, and he’s learning lots of words and little sentences. I tell him the story and he tells me what he sees in the book.

This is how that goes:


Beer = Dutch for bear
Papera = Italian for duck
Bal = Dutch for ball
Tavolo = Italian for table
Stoel = Dutch for chair
Latte = Italian for milk
Mela = Italian for apple
Pio Pio = the Italian sound a bird makes

As the picture shows, there doesn’t seem to be a rule for when he picks Dutch or Italian. Even ‘tavolo‘ and ‘stoel‘ are mixed, even though they obviously go together 🙂

International zoo

I love to see my son mix his languages. Even though the book in the example is in Dutch, he speaks both Italian and Dutch about fifty/fifty.

In the book, there are a lot of animals. He calls them: beer (bear in Dutch), pio pio (bird in Italian), papera (duck in Italian), pippo (for hippo), fante (for elefante), muis (mouse in Dutch), aap (monkey in Dutch) and pinguino (penguin in Italian).

At the end of the book, when everybody goes to sleep, he says: ‘aap nanna‘, ‘papera nanna‘, ‘fante nanna‘ and so on.

And at the end, it his turn to go to sleep 😉


Copyright afbeelding: Studio 100, uit ‘Bumba oogjes dicht’.

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