Ciao bambini! No longer restricted to books, tapes or videos, learning Italian has become both more interactive and more enjoyable, thanks to the Internet. For children, this means an assortment of games, songs and videos to make language acquisition feel like playtime. Whether you are raising a bilingual child or planning a trip to Italy, there are numerous online resources to make learning Italian an entertaining and educational experience for your child.
Teach your child Italian basics, including numbers, colors and animals by visiting Socrates Me Too (see Resources below). The course also includes audio recordings, making it ideal for little ones to practice basic pronunciation. Regular visits to the site will familiarize your children with essential Italian words and phrases in a relatively short time.
Log onto the Fortune City site to access a helpful English-Italian picture dictionary (see Resources below). The dictionary features basic words in English and Italian and is also useful for children who are fairly new to Italian.
Visit Pimpa (see Resources below) after your child has already acquired a basic grasp of Italian. An interactive Italian flash animation site featuring cards and games, Pimpa also allows children to submit their own artwork to the site.
Introduce your child to Italy's beloved fictional character Geronimo Stilton---a mouse who also happens to be a journalist and amateur sleuth. Log onto the Geronimo Stilton site (see Resources below) for news, games and desktop images. As the site is in Italian only, it is best for children who have an intermediate understanding of the language.
Watch children's television programs with your child on the Rai TV site (see Resources below). Ideal for children with an advanced understanding of Italian, watching Italian television programs will significantly help with listening skills and will familiarize them with the pace with which Italian is actually spoken.
Read the child-friendly Italian newspaper Corriere dei Piccoli by visiting www.corriere.it/Piccoli/home.shtml to help children practice their Italian reading skills. The site features news, articles and games, and is ideal for children who have a solid grasp of Italian and wish to expand their vocabulary or get a better sense of the culture.
- Encourage your child to practice Italian daily. Children pick up languages faster than adults, and daily practice will greatly facilitate the process.
- Always monitor your child's Internet use and encourage them to log onto Italian sites when you or another adult is present. Visit the sites with your children and use the interactive tools with them to encourage both their learning and your own.
- boy with computer image by Oleg Berlov from Fotolia.com