One of the things you need in order to be able to learn a language is confidence. Confidence to just try and make mistakes while doing so. In the end, we learn a lot from our mistakes!
Another thing that helps to acquire a language, is to go to an environment where it’s the majority language.
Last week, we went to Sicily, to visit our family. In just a few days, I’ve seen both my children make huge steps in their language development.
My son (almost 2 years old) is building sentences of 4 words now and he adds new words to his vocabulary every day. He doesn’t seem to know when to speak Dutch and when to speak Italian yet, so he just mixes them up with everyone.
My daughter (almost 4 years old), on the other hand, is very conscious of the fact that she needs to speak Italian with her Italian family and Dutch with her Dutch family. As she’s also pretty perfectionistic, that can make her insecure at times.
The first day in Italy, she told me that she didn’t want to speak Italian all the time. She said: “I don’t know some parole (words)”.
I explained that it happens to all of us that we get lost for words, no matter how young or old you are and no matter how many languages you speak.
A day later, she said: “I’m no longer shy to speak Italian!”
And the day after I overheard my children and their grandmother in the kitchen, chatting:
My son: “blauwe bal!” (“blue ball”)
Nanna: “cosa?” (“what do you mean?”)
My daughter: “Dice che la palla è blu” (“he says the ball is blue”)
I couldn’t be more proud! Her ‘Italian hesitation’ disappeared completely and she’s even helping her grandmother and her brother to understand eachother.
That’s how I learned that showing your children you have faith in them, they grow faith in themselves!