Question

I come from Italy and my husband is German. We live in Germany. Our son is almost 1 year old and I only speak to him in Italian. The question I would like to ask is as I am likely the one who is reading to him, is it ok for me to read to him in German as well as Italian?

Thank you, M.B.

Answer

Thank you for your question. Since you live in Germany, German will soon become the dominant language for your son and your role as the person providing the Italian exposure to him will become even more vital, so that he continues to speak the language. It is important that he gets used to only talking Italian with you, so ideally you would read to him in your language and your husband in German, i.e. stick to the One parent, one language (OPOL) strategy. However, if your husband does not have much opportunity to read to your son, and you may have limited access to books in Italian, I can understand that you would also like to read German books to him. By all means, also read German books. What I would recommend that you do is to say (in Italian) that “mummy is going to read a German book to you”. Then you read the book in German and afterwards discuss the characters or what happened, but in Italian. This way your son gets used to Italian always being the language of interactive communication with you.

All the best,
Rita

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