The power of engaging with parents
Stefania was born in Italy but when she turned 3 she and her family moved to Dublin. Stefania speaks Italian with her mum and English with her dad. Because she lived in Italy for the first 3 years of her life and she speaks Italian at home, Italian was her dominant language when she started in Junior Infants class. She loved going to school and she soon made friends.
Shortly after Christmas, Stefania started rejecting the Italian language and began replying to her mum, Elisa, in English even though Elisa continued speaking Italian to her.
“One day, I collected Stefania from school and I asked her how her day had been. Stefania replied okay. When we got home and her dad asked her how was school? Stefania was full of chats and stories. It dawned on me that Stefania just didn’t want to tell me about her day in Italian. It was tough to realise that” remembers Elisa.
Language Explorers visited Stefania’s school, later on, that year and as part of the programme, the class teacher asked parents to come into the classroom and tell a story. Stefania’s mum, Elisa jumped at the opportunity since she thought it was a lovely idea to bring a bit of home to the school. Elisa went in with some photos from where she is in Italy, including some family photos with Stefania.
“I shared some stories about what we do when we go to Italy in the summer, the food we eat, the outdoor swimming pools, body gestures we use…In the beginning, Stefania was observing everything from a distance but she soon jumped in and got involved telling all her friends about Italy and how to say some things in Italian. Those, I don’t know 10 or 15 minutes, changed everything,” says Elisa.
After her mum visited her school through Language Explorers, Stefania started showing an interest in speaking Italian again.