Bilingual children are amazing and children are like sponges that can absorb another language easily. By having a parent, that speaks another language other than Italian is a wonderful opportunity for your child. However, what happens when they go to a public school and learn their home language with teachers that really do not have the qualifications of teaching another language?
Here is my story. I have two children both speak, read, and understand really well, American English (yes it is different then British English). During their years of Elementary, it was interesting to say the least to watch what would happen in their classes of English. During this time, the Math teachers having to take over the task of teaching English replaced the English teachers. From the start, my oldest was very strong in his English. He got to the point where he was almost teaching the class. The teacher was always checking with him and relying on him for the words she was not sure she was pronouncing correctly or the right word in a sentence she was creating. She did not mind that he was using American words or that he spoke American. She also did not correct him when he would use the American spelling instead of the British spelling. He did not mind this but other bilingual children might have a problem being singled out to help the teacher.
My second child, born here, did not have such the understanding teacher and at first had to learn English by a cd in class. The teacher wanted the children to repeat the words exactly with the British accent (an Italian speaking British on the cd) that was being heard. I have horror flash backs when I had to learn Spanish in High school that way. It was horrible trying to follow the speaker on a cd and not being able to stop it or repeat it to follow. One day he came home in tears because the teacher said he was not pronouncing “blue jeans” correctly. The “u” in British has a different accent then in American English. Unfortunately, we had to tell him that he needs to try his best and to follow what the teacher is teaching. In other words if she wants British he needs to do it in British. That teacher left and another teacher came that taught more like my first child’s teacher. She was more understanding to the American and British differences, yet both are English. Now in middle school and the teacher is teaching the British “u” again. She is telling the children that the British “u” is pronounced like the Italian “a” and that the word “us” is pronounced like “ass”. Now my child came home telling me that he needs to say “ass” for “us”. Now I am envisioning my child in the US going around saying that and being laughed at. I know that there is an accent on the “u” but I do not think it is the sound of “a” in Italian.
What stories do you have of your child learning English or even another home language in their classes at school?