Learning always involves some degree of discomfort.
When the pandemic started and the lockdowns were in place, there was Time. Lots of time without knowing much what to do with it. As it is with all beginnings, one feels a bit lost, the eyes stare at the abyss, a bit confused, the foggy thoughts, too many choices.
“I could clean the blinds, real good“. Nah
“Decluttering much?” Nah.
And so it went, the endless suggestions coming from somewhere in my head, going in a loop just because nothing made much sense.
Until one idea, apart from making bread or staring at the abyss, came to mind: “I’m going to learn Italian. Why not? I love the country, I love the people, I’m married to an Italian-American” ‘ He doesn’t speak Italian‘ “So what? I can learn”
So the journey began, more specifically with Coffee Break Italian. It did a good job in helping me navigate the first sentences, build vocabulary and basic grammar. I had to complement with Italian books, Italian movies – Netflix catalogue is not very good, Prime gave me a lot more to watch. Rai radio was a must. There was also the Duolingo app, where I could do exercises and try out how my own voice sounded like in Italian. Not bad.
All these apps have both free and subscribed versions.
After a few months at home, I thought it was a good idea to find a teacher. I found a great one on Italki (lessons are paid but you can find good and very affordable teachers) and I’ve been taking lessons since September 2020. Yes, the different time zones made me schedule my very first lesson at 3am USA central time, but there is coffee for that.
My Italian teacher suggested I find a language partner, and told me about Tandem.
“So, what happened after 6 months with a teacher and all the rest? ‘
” Adesso, parlo un po’ de italiano’
Disclaimer; I don’t get paid at all by mentioning the applications or links. These are a few of the tools I used and it served me well in this journey. That’s all.
I’ve always been a little skeptic of people on youtube bragging about how they learnt a language in the fast and furious mode. Sometimes, they fail to mention that it takes a lot of time and and a lot of practice.
- The learning process is different for everybody and you have to find your learning style. I’ve always been a visual learner so it helped to see how the words looked like to build a vocabulary and understand the meaning and how and when I could use that word.
- Don’t try to translate everything to your native language. Go for the context and let go of the control of having to understand everything. You won’t at the beginning, let Time do its job.
- Listen. A lot. Get in the habit of listening native speakers on the radio, in movies, interviews. Dig and find interesting podcasts in your target language. Listening does wonders.
- Read about things that interest you as it is easier to stick to a subject that motivates you.
- Once you feel confident, find a language partner and start speaking.
I hope this will help you with your learning journey. Learning another language has opened the world to me and I hope it will do the same to you.