La Tela di Carlotta
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Conversations with a multilingual 2 year old

Sep 25, 2017

So many of you have been asking how Oliver’s doing with the four languages, so today I thought I would answer just that, and I’ll do it through his own words.

His speech is full-on at the moment, but because he’s growing up with four native languages he’s now truly and deeply mixing all of them—which makes his language something that really only mummy and daddy understand fully (and not always ;-).

Many of you also asked if Oliver’s confused by having so many languages, and the truth is he’s not: his only confusion might be for not understanding why not everybody understands him, as around here he understands everybody ;-)

During our one-month stay in Finland, though, we noticed something very interesting:

  • He switched to Finnish with the locals, and the Finnish language quickly became predominant during our stay there. He started using Finnish words that daddy hadn’t taught him, just by hearing them around.
  • He translated to me (and this is the most interesting aspect for me) when I looked at him confused. One day, we were in a bathroom the car, he was looking out the window and saying a word in Finnish I didn’t understand. So he looked at me, and said in Italian “bello, mamma” (beautiful).

In this post I’ll write some of his sentences that I’ve been collecting since he was about 21 months old, and I won’t translate them of course so you can fully understand the level of his mixing, which to me is astonishing.

  • While Alex tells him a goodnight story in Finnish: "Oli no like it".
  • He takes my hand as he wants me to sit on the bed, “Papà, aquí”. He realizes he called me papà. “No, mamma aquí, papá loppu (over in Finnish). Papá moto (motorbike), ficio (ufficio: office in Italian), papá loppu”.
  • He wants to push the pram, "Chello (quiero) spingi". (I want to push, Spanish+Italian)Me, "Vuoi spingere tu?" (Do you want to push?)Oli, "Sì, vuoi". (Yes, you want)
  • Me, “Ti piace di più il cavallo o il pony?” (Do you prefer the horse or the pony?)Oli, “Pony”.Me, “Ti piace di più il pony o il cavallo”?Oli, “Horse”.
  • "Oli see grande caufauffa" (giraffe in Oli’s language, English+Italian)
  • In the bathtub, putting his rubber fish on the boat, "Vamos fish, come on, up, no cadi Fish, ven”. The fish falls. "Oh no, fish duto (caduto: fallen in Italian), fish pois (away in Finnish). The apotheosis of his multilingualism :-D
  • At home, before he leaves to the store with daddy, “Ricorda a papà di comprare latte, uova e frutta”. (Remind daddy to buy milk, eggs and fruit)Oli, alone with daddy in the elevator, “Muna, maito” (in Finnish, one of the first times he translated to us, around 2 years old).
  • "Look, paljon scale!” (Look, lots of stairs, English+Finnish+Italian)
  • Oli, “Look, mamma, suihku!”Me, “Oli, non capisco“. (I don't understand)Oli, “Doccia, mamma!" (Shower, mama!)
  • “Quiero menna parco” (I want to go to the park, Spanish+Finnish+Italian)
  • After a birthday party, “Quiero more kakku” (I want more cake, Spanish+English+Finnish)

Now he’s 30 months old, and his speech has jumped another level: he’s now describing stories, telling us things that happened at school, explaining why he’s sad or angry—always mixing the four languages, but also more and more answering in the language he is addressed in, and translating for us. In our next trip to Finland I’ll have my own little interpreter… What a fascinating journey, raising multilingual kids!

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
10k on Instagram!
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
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A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.


We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.


In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.


On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.