Bilingual resources are popping up all over the place to assist individuals and families alike. Our friends over at Bilingual Readers recently shared a story about a website that is the first online community for Italo-Spanish (Italians, Spaniards and Latin American) communities throughout the world called Itañolito.com.
Here’s a snippet from an interview that Bilingual Readers did with the founders of the site, Carolina Ramos (a Spanish mom based in Rome) and Carola Di Marco (an Italian based in Madrid), who are raising their Italo-Spanish babies to be bilingual and bicultural (Spanish and Italian.)
Original post date July 30, 2012. Read the full interview on BilingualReaders.com.
Tell us a bit about your lives and how you decided to create Itañolandia.
CAROLINA: I’m Spanish and I’ve lived in Rome for more than ten years. I’m married to a man from Rome and we have two kids (a four-year-old girl, and a two-year-old boy). In Italy I’ve always worked with Spanish institutions, and thanks to the contact I had with other Spanish families (or Italo-Spanish families, since most of them are mixed families), I realized just how little information there was on and offline for Italo-Spanish families who are raising bilingual children. The first playgroups I organized under the name of Todos a jugar arose from the need for my children to be exposed to Spanish with other Italo-Spanish children. It was my own daughter who told me: “Mami, tero gugar con nenes españoles en Italas.” How could I say no? In addition to my personal and professional interest in bilingualism, it also relates to my research for the PhD I’m working on.
CAROLA: I’m Italian and I’ve lived in Spain since 2006. I’m married to a Spanish man and have a one and a half-year-old daughter. Since she was born I started to look for information on childhood bilingualism, and I found other mothers online who were raising Italo-Spanish children. One of those women was Carolina, who had already started working on her Todos a jugar project in Rome and I offered to help her export the project to Spain. We soon realized that there was no information for us online (mainly because often bilingualism equals English), so we thought about creating a blog for Italo-Spanish speaking people where we could talk about Spain, Italy, Latin America, bilingualism, biculturalism, traditions, integration; a place where the Italo-Spanish community could share information, worries, experiences and funny anecdotes about what it means to be an Italo-Spanish family.
- What difficulties have you come across while launching this project?
It’s often difficult to find a balance between family life, work, studies and Itañolandia. But it’s really a matter of time management because all of these areas of life (family, professional, academic) are somehow related. If we didn’t have mixed families, Itañolandia would never have occurred to us. Without our work and life in a different country, there would be no need for us to share our experiences as expats. If we hadn’t been studying Spanish-Italian bilingualism, we wouldn’t have been interested in contacting other families. The only thing we really need (we and everyone else in today’s frenetic societies) is 48 hour days!
- What activities do you do?
Carolina organizes playgroups in Spanish in Rome, and Carola organizes Italian playgroups in Madrid. Both groups are for Spanish-Italian bilinguals over the age of 18 months. We know that the aspect of play is fundamental for learning a second language and for reinforcing what children already know, so these playgroups are a great opportunity for children to get together in a fun environment to play with friends who speak the same languages they do, guided by a trained native teacher.
- Do you meet together regularly?
We are constantly in contact not only to organize activities, blog contents, etc, but also because we and the rest of the itañola family have become good friends. But most of this is done on-line, since we live in different cities. For the activities, we have a small group of collaborators in each city which meets regularly to organize the playgroups and other initiatives.
- How can interested families participate?
It’s very easy. If you want to participate in our playgroups, you can check out Itañolitos (where we also share information and resources about Spanish-Italian bilingualism) or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for activities.
We also have a Facebook and Twitter pages, where the itañola community meets together to chat and where we publish all our news and information about the activities we’re planning throughout the year.
Visita Itañolandia.com para más información y recursos.
Visita Itañolandia.com per maggiori informazioni e risorse.