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Giulio’s favorite song is the Elmer song. I’ve mentioned this. It’s great. It’s about an elephant that is somehow multicolored instead of “elephant color” and is sad about being different, so he goes and finds gray berries to roll in to make him elephant color and then he’s like the rest, but can’t handle it so he blows his cover, and then all the elephants laugh because he’s gray but still silly Elmer, and then the rain washes him back to rainbow and all the other elephants decide that one day a year, they’ll paint themselves colored and Elmer will be gray because that’s fun and it’s ok to be different. The End.

This is wonderful, and through the song, Giulio is learning words in Italian that I didn’t even know.

But, seeing that I’m trying to teach him English and Elmer only lasts for three minutes and I know the words now, I decided to move onto other songs he may like in English.

Of course my first go-to was Disney, and although I now am old enough that I have to search for “old” or “traditional” Disney to find what I want, Spotify provided a wonderful playlist that included “Under the Sea” “Be Prepared” and “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious” (I was one letter off on the first try of spelling that). With that blasting from my phone, we pranced around the room and seemingly had a wonderful time – I probably more than him – who hasn’t even watched the movies…yet.

We also watched “old” sesame street together which of course led to a scene with the alphabet and Big Bird. The Alphabet Song! 

I actually had to search through youtube and again put TRADITIONAL in to find what I wanted, but soon we were singing our ABC’s and Giulio seemed entranced. This was a song I didn’t mind on repeat. Plus, I could hear him repeating the sounds over the music – some he hadn’t understood before within normal speaking. It was working. This is one of the original songs we all learn and know growing up as English speakers (right? wait, is it just an American thing? I’m not researching for this), and thanks to the youtube video I picked, I know it was created in 1847 (history lesson intro? Sure. Let’s do it).


Italians don’t have an alphabet song. Giulio’s Dad informed me when he got home. After I had told him we were practicing it  – and he broke into an off-tone version that I knew could only come from someone that had never ever had to learn it. No song at all for learning letters, he told me.

“But…how do kids learn the alphabet? How did you learn letters?” I sat at the mini table with Giulio, my arms raised over my head in the YMCA, “A” fashion. (Just decided the next song we’re learning for tomorrow.) He shrugged saying he couldn’t remember, that you just learn it?

No alphabet song? At home, I brought it up with Rami.

“But how do they learn it?!” He shrugged too – learning Italian by speaking it, not school. There isn’t an alphabet song in Arabic, either.

It’s another day in the world I’m living in where I’ve realized how much I still have to learn, how much my mind still thinks the things “I” grew up with are universal. It makes the world so much more interesting when those fake barriers are broken down. When you realize that the world doesn’t revolve around anyone “way,” and that no one “way” of doing things is ever truly “right.”

Giulio likes the English alphabet song, and I’ll keep teaching him that and the rest. The YMCA will be next. But he’s going to be my guide in how children learn the Italian alphabet. I’m still completely lost on how to even start – apparently it isn’t with a song.


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