June 5, 2013

An Observation on Life at 15 Months

The summer after my junior year of college I spent six weeks in Ortigia, a little island in Sicily, studying Italian. I went to wrap up my foreign language credit. After taking Italian 101 at Clemson, I was able to take a condensed 201 summer course in Italy. Despite having a year of Italian under my belt, when I got to Italy I was overwhelmed by how little functional Italian I was able to speak.  I had a few phrases mastered, but for the most part I spent every conversation listening for a familiar word to hold on to.

After a few weeks, I realized that I was understanding more and more but my vocabulary acquisition was not keeping pace with my comprehension. While I was able to understand most of what heard, I was left replying, "I understand. But I don't have words to answer." It was certainly frustrating but I've recently gained a new appreciation for the experience. You see, Cole, at fifteen months, is just like me in Italy!

My baby has a few words she's mastered and a few signs but it's not much. And she's frustrated. She's been able to communicate with us using her signs and she's quick to answer Yes/No questions. She understands what I mean when I tell her to sit on her bottom or present her with instructions but she really can't respond verbally.  She is absolutely in the same place I was. Every week I notice her attempting new words and responding to more diverse instructions.  It'll just be a matter of time before she is spouting new words daily. But, for now, I think back to how I felt in Italy and then make every effort to speak in a way that will help her learn and reinforce the efforts she's making.


  1. That's a great comparison! It's good you have that to remind you of how frustrated she must be when trying to learn to communicate. As a side note... I want to know more about Italy! Did you travel anywhere else while you were there?

    1. I just traveled around Sicily. To be honest, I elected to go because studying abroad was cheaper than paying out of state summer tuition. It was a blast but I really didn't see too much of Italy. Just the same, living in a tiny town without many English speakers was a great way to get a glimpse of the culture.

      Have you been to Italy? Planning to go one day?