George Clooney: The 4-year-old twins ‘speak fluent Italian, but Amal and I do not’

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George and Amal Clooney split their time between LA, England and Como, Italy in normal times. For the better part of a year and a half during the pandemic, they were based in LA, at George’s old bachelor pad which has been converted to more of a family home. They did spend this summer in Como once travel restrictions were lifted, and I’m sure they enjoyed that. George has been pretty open about how he tries to spend two months in Italy every year, and now that he’s a husband and father, the Como mansion has become more family-friendly too. As it turns out, Alexander and Ella Clooney are picking up something very important in Italy: they’re now more fluent in Italian than their parents.

George and Amal Clooney have quite the conundrum on their hands! The 60-year-old actor recently shared a few of his 4-year-old twins’ latest milestones while speaking with E! News’ Daily Pop on Sunday at the Los Angeles premiere of The Tender Bar, which he directed.

Not only have the twins, Ella and Alexander, learned to swim, they’ve also become bilingual — there’s just one small problem.

“They speak fluent Italian, but Amal and I do not,” George said with a laugh. “That’s a flaw in our logic, right there.”

While they may not have gotten their language skills from their dad, they certainly are learning other valuable lessons from him. Also on Sunday, Amal joked with Entertainment Tonight that her husband is a “great” teacher.

“He’s mainly teaching pranks for the time being. But we’ll see if it develops,” the 43-year-old human rights lawyer explained. George replied, “Well, I think those can really pay off over time.”

[From People]

He’s mentioned that the kids are learning Italian before, but I had no idea they were fluent at this point. Especially since this past summer was the first time they’ve been in Italy in two years! Where are they picking it up, if not from their parents? Maybe George and Amal have an Italian nanny for their bambinos? The twins are only four years old!! I think George is way overselling the “they’re fluent in Italian” thing. That being said, parents should absolutely introduce second and third languages to children at an early age. Little kids are sponges and it’s easier for them to pick up languages the younger they are. All that being said, I hope at least one of the kids has gotten Amal’s legal brain.

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26 Responses to “George Clooney: The 4-year-old twins ‘speak fluent Italian, but Amal and I do not’”

  1. thaisajs says:

    So…what you’re saying is that your kids spend most of their time with someone who is not their parents. Someone who is fluent in Italian. Feels like maybe George didn’t really think that one thru before he spoke.

    • Sue Denim says:

      they might be playing w other kids too, kids can really pick up languages quickly.

    • RoyalBlue says:

      It wouldn’t surprise me if George speaks to the twins exclusively in english, Amal in French and the nannies in italian. The twins are at least bilingual I bet. It’s amazing how the brain works and the kids do pick it up quickly.

    • MR says:

      My daughter is in daycare all day while my husband and I work, so she spends most of her time with people who are not her parents. How nice for you if you’ve been able to spend all day, every day with your children.

      Get off your high horse.

    • Jaded says:

      Ummm…the kids are probably in pre-school and speak a lot of Italian to their teachers/classmates. My mother, who was Canadian, was born in Mexico and lived there until she was 15. She spoke Spanish most of the time, it was her preferred language. Kids are like sponges you know, they soak up languages instantly.

      Save your snark for people who deserve it.

    • Desdemona says:

      My mom was a stay at home mum with. She only speaks Portuguese. I speak Spanish since I was five from watching TV. Nowadays I’m actually a languages teacher, Spanish included. Started learning English when I was six from hearing music. Later, when I was 8 decided to read in Italian. It just comes so easy for me. Maybe for them too…

    • Moxylady says:

      Dude. Italian immersion schools. They have every language and they start at like 6 months. Chill out.

  2. Simone says:

    They have Italian staff. They kept an italian chef & nanny for years but it’s a tough language to speak properly. They’ll be as fluent as four year old bi-lingual kids can be. (Speaking from experience).

    • Liz says:

      I’ve seen this before with English speaking parents hiring Spanish speaking household staff. It was frequently intentional – the parents wanted the kids to learn Spanish (I live in NYC, understanding/speaking Spanish is very useful). Coupled with Spanish instruction in school starting in kindergarten, these kids were relatively fluent by 10.

  3. bros says:

    he’s definitely overselling it. their passive understanding is probably pretty high, but fluent absent native speakers in the home environment? at 4? no.

    • molly says:

      They’re rich with various global homes. I’m certain they have more than one nanny, and I’m sure at least one is a native Italian-speaking.

      Jason Biggs and his wife are barely D-list, and she got a German-speaking nanny for her kids. Rich/famous people, even marginally so, can get whatever it is that they want.

      • Resi says:

        You really don’t even need to be rich for that. I was one of said German nannies for years and everyone I worked for was like very solidly middle-class.

  4. The Voice says:

    I’m American-born Chinese and I’ve been speaking Mandarin to my kids since they were in utero (I felt so silly doing it bc my husband doesn’t speak Mandarin). My older one understood Mandarin and Spanish when she was 2 but didn’t speak much. By 4 she was fluent in Mandarin but forgot all her Spanish. She’s now 6 and after attending online K last year and being in-person in 1st grade all in English is speaking like 90% English and only 10% Mandarin though she understands Mandarin.

    My younger one is 2 and attends a Mandarin preschool and is fluent in Mandarin though he speaks to his sister in English most of the time and his vocabulary is limited. They pick up and lose languages so quickly when their brains are young and those neural pathways are forming. I believe it. The hard part is being consistent with them and keeping up a foreign language when you live in the US and all they hear around them is English.

    Some kids are early language speakers and some are not. My oldest was and a lot of the parents in her preschool used to comment how advanced she was compared to their own kids. I had no idea bc I had no one to compare her to. But now that my son is here I definitely see a difference between them language-wise.

    • bettyrose says:

      I envy your children. I wish my parents had done that for me. They only speak English and never thought of teaching me another language when I was young, so I didn’t study a language until French in middle school, which I never took seriously. So, I’ve accepted I’ll never be fluent in another language, not like someone who learns it as a child, but I think it’s so important.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        I envy her children as well. My father was from Argentina and I wish he would has spoken his native tongue my entire life. Once I moved to Argentina at 18, I was able to pick it up quickly. I had intended to stay for a year, but my mother became ill so I left at about 6 months. Once I returned I would call my cousins and aunt often and kept it up, but days would go by and life would happen with marriage and children and I have lost a majority of it. I think it’s important for children to be bi-lingual, especially in the US. I think it’s wonderful that people teach their children foreign languages, especially if it’s their native tongue.

      • The Voice says:

        I guess it’s how I grew up. I was born in the US to immigrant Chinese parents and we spoke Mandarin at home. My other ABC friends’ parents spoke English bc they wanted to assimilate. My mom didn’t subscribe to the idea bc you can’t assimilate that much in America when you look ethnically Chinese. Her philosophy was if you’re already an Other then embrace your otherness. I’m actually very thankful that I was raised this way. I have basic conversational abilities and my pronunciation is pretty good but I can’t read/write.

        The challenge is my kids won’t understand the value of knowing another language until after their brain plasticity wanes (or at least it feels harder to learn a new language later in life). I wish they would just listen to me. 😂

    • chumsley says:

      I think it’s great that you’ve committed to speaking Mandarin with your kids. When I was little, I was more fluent in Japanese when we first moved to the states (I was about 4 years old). Unfortunately, the daycare told my mom to not speak Japanese to me at home because I could barely speak English and wouldn’t play with the other children. I think the reason I wasn’t playing with the other kids wasn’t that I couldn’t speak with them, it was because I was very shy at that age. I lost a lot of fluency in Japanese and my mom says she later regretted listening to the daycare. In college, I took Japanese courses and it was pretty easy for me to pick it up again although I wouldn’t call myself 100% fluent.

      I’ve got a toddler at home and I’ve been trying to do speak Japanese with him, read, and sing songs with him, so I’m hoping he picks up some of it. I’m also hoping that he’ll pick up some Polish from my husband and my in-laws, but my husband isn’t as consistent with speaking Polish around the house.

  5. Noki says:

    My siblings and I speak to our kids only in English and it really helps them to be properly fluent and not broken English as I often hear. Where i am from we speak Swahili which the kids will hear and have access to from a number of people they interact with besides us.

  6. Concern Fae says:

    Having nannies who speak to the kids only in their native language is a thing. Usually Spanish, but now sometimes Mandarin. Some of it is to develop the ear and brain patterns to be able to learn the language later. We are born with the ability to understand and speak all human languages (duh), but the brain starts pruning off the sounds that aren’t used. Learning a language while young helps keep them open.

    Not another language, but I lived in Ireland when 6 and 7, quickly picked up the accent of the neighborhood kids. Lost it as soon as I came home. I can still understand even the thickest British/Scottish/Irish accents in movies or TV, even when my friends can’t. I often have to translate.

    • The Voice says:

      Yes! That’s why we chose a Spanish-speaking nanny so at one point our daughter could understand English, Spanish, and Mandarin. But I’m surprised how quickly she lost Spanish after going to a Mandarin immersion preschool. Now she’s struggling to hang on to Mandarin despite going to a Mandarin after school program. Just keeping her home during the pandemic with English only online school and no Mandarin other than mine was enough to erase a lot of the Mandarin.

      I hope my kids’ brains are wired enough to learn it again if they choose it as their language in high school or college.

  7. Oh_Dear says:

    I lived in Greece as a child between the ages of 2 and 7. My sister and I both translated Greek for my parents when we were out in the community. We were fluent for our ages, as 5 years olds speak. We were around neighbours, kids, playschool and we could comprehend a lot of the conversations and answer back in Greek like we would have in Canadian.

    I believe him.

  8. Kate says:

    We have had a Turkish live in nanny since my daughter was 6 months (just turned 5) and my son born (now 2). My daughter speaks Turkish as well as she speaks English, my son understands a lot. They speak only Turkish, listen to music, etc at least 50 hours a week. Children are incredible!

  9. Monica says:

    I’d forgotten the age difference between George and Amal.

    If you could have spawned them, don’t date them.

  10. Leeloo says:

    Rich people love talking about how their kids speak multiple languages

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