Tag Archives: Italian

Online news sites for children

When children reach a certain age, parents want them to learn about what happens in the world. Many parents struggle with the way news are presented on TV. In fact, pictures and the way news are presented in the evening news can be quite traumatising. A great alternative are online news sites for children, where children and parents can choose the kind of news they think are appropriate and get more information about some topics in a child friendly way. What I personally like about online news is the choice to either read or watch the news.

Like in many multilingual families, my children like to have access to news in different languages. As I’m far from knowing about online news programms for children in other languages, asked some parents from the Multicultual Kid Blogs group to share news sites they recommend for children and am glad to share this here below.


Rita Rosenback recommends the Danish site Kidsnews. You have to subscribe to the magazine, but the news videos are for free.


The Dutch Jeugdjournaal is a news programm for children that goes live every day at 18:45 and can also be watched online. There is also a Jeugdjournaal app that permits you to access news in a child appropriate format on mobile devices.

English (British):

Amanda van Mulligen suggested the BBC site for news. This site is very interesting not only for news but also for general information about different topics.

Another site that my children like to visit is the First News Site.


Annabelle Humanes recommends the real paper newspaper that has also a news website. This website is, as far as I could see, without videos, therefore children need to be able to read to access the news.

Isabelle Barth points out that in France and in French-speaking countries, there is no News Channel just for children. But they have few channels just for childern an they have news in their programs. These channels are: Gulli, Tivi5mondeplus and canalj.


On the German tivi site, children can watch news and choose the topics they’re interested in.


The Italian site Bambininews offers news for children who already can read. In fact, there are no videos available (so far). Also, some Italian newspapers publish news sites for children, like Il Giorno. The TV channel RaiGulp offers also online access to some series and news, but, as far as I know, there is no video news programm online.


And on the Norwegian site nrksuper children can access the news that are also aired on TV online.


For Portuguese, Annabelle Humanes‘ husband recommends the Folinha de São Paulo, a website or supplement from an adult newspaper. It is Brazilian.


Anna Watt recommends two Russian websites, one for a younger audience and one for 10-16 year olds and older.


The Spanish site educatumundo is an educational site for children, parents and teachers. Under noticias you can find several topics, written for children. These news are not available on video, but maybe there is another site that offers news clips in Spanish?


Rita Rosenback recommends the Swedish site SVT, where children can watch the news.


Of course, these are only a few online news sites for children and I really would like to extend this list. Therefore, I would really be glad if you could recommend any further online news sites for children in the comments section here below (indicating your name and, if you have one, your website). – Thank you very much!


Some multimedia resources for (my) multilingual and multicultural children…

We all know that the best way to help our children become (and stay!) multilingual is by talking the languages we want them to become proficient in as often as we can and by providing an attractive context (with friends, family etc.).

By acquiring other languages, our children do not only learn about the grammar but also about the cultures, the traditions. I always preferred learning by contexts and this means by reading and talking, by interacting with people. And my children do the same.

But we all know that there are periods where we can’t provide this ideal context of friends and family talking to our children, or total language immersion and need to draw on other tools.

When I was a child, the only tools we had were LPs with music and stories from other countries. It was the pre-satellite era and we didn’t receive TV programms than the national ones and the internet was not even invented… (yes, now I’m feeling old!). – Raising multilingual children nowadays, is incredibly easy compared to this. Our children have easy access to multilingual materials wherever they are.

Personally, I don’t consider watching TV (or DVD’s) a very good way to teach language to our children, but I know, from my own experience, that it can really help to build at least a passive vocabulary. I prefer the internet sites of Radio or TV channels, which offer a really large variety of activities and games that are a much more active way to spend screen time. And by watching some TV programmes via internet, my children can choose the times that fit better in their personal schedules and usually they switch to interactive sites pretty quick. – My children are not allowed to watch TV during the week due to time constraints, hence they really enjoy their screen time in the weekends.

Here are the sites that my children visit when they have time:

For German: KiKa (Kinderkanal/channel for children) offers a considerable amount of valuable shows, games, riddles, and lists of books for children of any age. My children like to watch the “Sendung mit der Maus” (some video and youtube excerpts here ) on Sundays. My girls like the “Sonntagsmärchen” (Sunday tales, mainly Grimms’ tales but also from other cultures) and my son “Willi wills wissen” where all kind of curious questions are answered.

For English: my kids visited regularly the sites of the bbc cbeebies when they were younger, but now they prefer bitesize, or history for kids and the bbc site about culture.

For Dutch: children can watch filmpjes, visit kro kindertijd or kids nickelodeon, sites with games and other fun activities for children.

For Italian: I must admit that my children barely watch Italian TV or visit Italian internet sites. But this is only because they already have so much on their plates. Nevertheless, I can recommend the channel Rai Gulp with programmes for all age groups. What my son prefers watching are hockey games of his favourite Swiss (Italian) team and he reads everything about it.

My children love to listen to music. The fact that they understand everything in so many languages makes them very proud and I think that music as much as poetry helps a lot to learn and improve languages and to learn about the different cultures. But they also love to listen to audio stories. When they were younger, we used to listen to audio stories on our long car rides. For German these were mostly Grimm’s tales , Bibi BlocksbergPumuckl . For English, they liked stories from Barefoot books and for Dutch we have a whole series of audiobooks from Disney called “lees mee“.  Among the Swissgerman stories, they particularly liked Globi, Kasperli.

Bildschirmfoto 2013-10-09 um 12.28.38

©expatsincebirth; Kasperle; Globi

Personally, I think that folktales in general are very good to teach our children about the culture related to the languages they’re learning. They teach about the mentality and the core values. Of course, modern tales which are very country specific, like Nijntje and Mega MIndi in the Netherlands, can be added to the more traditional ones. – But this will be the topic for another post.


I did write this post as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs October Blogging Carnival about using media to raise multicultural children. It is hosted by Olga Mecking on European Mama.

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Do multilinguals have multiple personalities?

MultiplePersUteWell, the answer is: no! People who speak multiple languages do not have multiple personalities. Having multiple personalities is a disorder, being multilingual is not!

True is, that a person who speaks more than one language, feels part of the different cultures and “acts” in different ways. In my case, when I talk italian with Italians, I gesticulate like Italians – but not in the presence of non-italians…

Anyway, the cultural influences coming from other languages do not mean that one will develop multiple personality disorder! It is surely not pathological!

Multilinguals have a double or multiple cultural reference system. That’s all. Our personality and identity is made of many elements “in a world where more and more people grow up and live with various cultural references – even more so after the expansion of the internet – it is meaningless to stick to the monistic concept of identity. Identity can be multiple, it can be plural” (Tokuhama-Espinosa, T. (2003), The multilingual mind: Issues discussed by, for, and about people living with many languages, Westport, Conneticut: Praeger Publishers, p.185).

Multilinguals do not necessarily have an identity crisis because they are a part of many cultures. If they have a sort of “identity crisis”, then it’s because other people ask them to choose one (and only one!) of their cultures.

If we assume with Charlotte Burck that identity can always be “actively constructed and renegotiated” (Multilingual living: Explorations of language and subjectivity, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), well, then identity and personality are something that flows as we grow. It evolves and develops throughout our lives.

When we speak different languages, we also express different kinds and aspects of ourselves. This depends from our audience, the situation etc. In every language we speak, we create different kinds of self-expressions and experiences for ourselves. We can express several facets of ourselves but never stop being “our true selves”.

Multilinguals often feel “different” when they are switching between their different languages. But the difference is felt during this shifting, because the culture, the frame of reference changes with the language too. François Grosjean describes it like this: “what is seen as a change in personality is most probably simply a shift in attitudes and behaviours that correspond to a shift in situation or context, independent of language” (François Grosjean, Life as a Bilingual: the reality of living with two or more languages, Psychology Today, 2011) – I would add: but triggered by the change of language.

Let’s make an example. I usually talk German to my children, but sometimes, I switch to Italian. Usually this happens, when I’m tired or I have to tell them something quickly (for example in situations of imminent danger: “step back from that road!”). When this happens, I feel different. My expression changes, words come out much faster and I start gesticulating. But when I talk Italian in a more formal context, I slow down and do not gesticulate that much. Therefore, in my opinion, the “personality shift” has a bit to do with the language, but not only. I would say it is like wearing another mask or glove.

During role plays I sometimes change language or imitate a strong accent (Italian, German, Swissgerman, French, English or Dutch) in order to “feel” and accentuate the difference of the character. – But don’t monolinguals also have this “shift” when they switch from a formal to an informal register? We all use different registers when we are in formal meetings than when we talk to our children or friends. Bilinguals (or multilinguals) just have a broader framework to work with.

Usually, multilinguals have one (or two…) dominant language and its culture seems more valorized. But this dominance can vary over one’s lifetime. I had very long Italian phases, an anti-German phase, an Italian-French phase. I even had a German-Dutch-Italian phase and am now experiencing a German-English-Dutch phase… It always depends on our family use, our environment and our occupation. – But all those languages are always present and form my very personal identity. It’s like having multiple tools to express yourself: an incredibly powerful asset!

Bildschirmfoto 2015-01-18 um 19.31.02

What do you think about this topic? What is your experience as a multilingual – or parent of bi- or multilingual children?

Bilingual siblings and their language preferences

We can find many studies about how to raise “a” or “one” bilingual child, but what happens when you have more than one child? And maybe twins? Will it be possible to keep the initial bilingual or multilingual situation within the family? Do the children influence the language dynamic in the family? Do all the children in the same family prefer the same language? Do they influence eachother regarding the preference of the language?

Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert did publish a great book about Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families. A great guide for parents and teachers. Even if a family shares the same experiences, each child can get more or less out of a situation. The same occurs to the languages every family is in touch with. Within the same family you can find children who embrace the languages wholeheartedly and others who are more reluctant. Maybe one will „absorb“ every language it’s exposed to, while another one chooses a few and the next one prefers only one.

In my experience, you sometimes have to adapt your language situation within your family to the individual needs of your children. I’ve already mentioned the linguistic situation in our family in an other post.

Our situation right now is, that we talk German within our family, but in very specific situations we switch to English or Dutch. This happens when we talk about an experience we had in these other linguistic contexts, when we have friends over who don’t understand or talk German or when the children are playing together. Our children are exposed to Italian and Swissgerman only during playtimes with children who speak the same language or whilst reading or listening to stories, songs in these languages and during our visits to our family in Switzerland.

I’ll try to answer to some questions Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert did ask in her book and that can help to shed light on your linguistic situation too:

1) Which language(s) do the siblings prefer to speak together?

Our children mainly talk German to each other, but it can happen that they talk Dutch or English while talking about a topic they had at school or shared with their English friends. The same happens with Dutch.

2) What happens when there are two or more children at different stages of language development?

Usually, when you have children from different age groups, it’s natural that they are in different stages of language development. Those who are older often can help the younger ones to develop their language skills. But it also can happen that an older child uses the babytalk (or very basic language) with the baby or toddler…

Our children are all on a different stage of language development. Our son is already fluent in all the languages I’ve mentioned. Our twindaughters are more or less at the same level, nearly fluent. One of our daughters is a “lazy speaker” so she seems not to be as far in her language development as her sister, but her vocabulary is quite good in all three languages (even her Italian passive knowledge is improving a lot and she likes Italian very much). Both girls mix up the syntactic structure of German and English. – This affects a bit our conversations, as I usually have to model their sentences.

3) Could one child refuse to speak one language while another child is fluently bilingual?

Our son did refuse to talk Italian when he was 2.5 as a reaction to our moving to the Netherlands and his exposure to Dutch and German. But now he’s interested in learning French and thinks that Italian is a nice language too. He’s now fluently multilingual (in German, English, Dutch). His sisters are nearly fluent in the same languages. Our son is also re-starting to talk Italian, whilst our daughters have a more passive knowledge of this language.

It’s not that one of our children does really refuse to talk a language whilst the other one(s) speak it, but one of our daughters would prefer talking only German. She is much less interested in languages than our other two children. The other daughter had a phase where she wanted me to talk Italian to her. I did try, but after a few days we all agreed that I wouldn’t talk different languages to all of them, so we’re back on talking German altogether. – But when I’m upsed or I have to tell them something very quickly, I switch to Italian – that’s much quicker and they all know that things are getting serious when I do so.

4) How do factors of birth order, personality or family size interact in language production?

In our family, personality is the most important factor that decides about the languages we use. We all speak two to four languages per day and these are not always the same ones. Our children did decide on a very early stage which languages they wanted to talk and it were external factors who did influence us all on this. When we moved to the Netherlands we didn’t find Italian friends in the first months and I was the only person talking Italian to my son. He also knew that I was perfectly able to talk and understand Swissgerman and Dutch (I learned Dutch along with my son), and his refusal to talk Italian was very economic and natural. I persisted talking Italian to him until the girls were 15 months old. We then narrowed down the languages within our family from three to one because our girls developed a secret language. – So, in the end: birth order and personality did influence the languages in our family.

All our children behave in different ways in linguistic terms and we are aware that the situation might change in the future.

What is the language history of your family? Did your children also develop along uniquely individual linguistic paths?



This post has been republished on Expatica.com on 17/09/2013.