Do you know the age old adage of “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”, well I think that may be pretty accurate, lol; because learning a new language when younger soaks in so much easier. Since fully immersing myself in the Italian culture, I have had to relearn that patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to picking up a new language, as it doesn’t just happen overnight.
Growing up bi-lingual has been an extreme blessing for me. Not only has it helped me better communicate with my parents and family, but has also opened many doors for job opportunities as well throughout my life. If you are familiar with Italian and/or the Spanish language, you may know that they are very similar. They are, after all, both part of the 5 romance languages and of course they are…what’s more romantic than the sweet sound of the Italian language?
I have been keeping the Italian language close to heart since our trip to Italy last year and have recently been really trying to cross my t’s and dot my i’s (Italian style, of course). To be honest, even if I wasn’t living here, learning a new language is something I have always had an interest in doing and being here is more of a reason to make it happen.
I have found some programs, apps, and materials that have been a huge help in this journey to become tri-lingual (is that a word?) and am determined not to come back to the states until I can have a full conversation in Italian that goes past “Ciao!” & “Arriverderci”.
So, looking to study a new language? Here are my best tips to you:
- Have access to a way to “practice” your language at all times. By this I mean, on your phone, desktop, a text or phone call away (if you can practice with someone that also speaks the language). The more options you have to practice, the less excuses you will make about not having time to access your resources.
- One app I like to use on my phone when I have an extra 20-30 minutes to kill, is Duolingo. Duolingo is a free app that allows you to practice 10 different languages that helps test your reading, writing, and speaking skills.
- One of the most well-known language programs I have been using is Rosetta Stone. It has been great to help me practice as well and give me a different variety of topics from what Duolingo has to offer. However, Rosetta Stone is entirely induced by the learner and there is no translation like you would find while using Duolingo.
- Netflix is not only great for “chillin”, but I love that you are able to search for movies in other languages. We have already seen a couple Italian films on there and attended one outdoor movie night here in our neighborhood. Although it didn’t have subtitles, it’s great to just listen and hear the words, the rhythm, and let it all sink in.
- I am a huge fan of podcasts and have some that I listen to religiously. Jared, last year, got me on Coffee Break Italian. I would love listening to this driving to work in the mornings or even while cooking dinner. It’s a mix of English and Italian language between 3 people in a conversational style setting. Great for audio learners! The Coffee Break podcast is also available in other languages.
- Pick up a phrase book next time you are at your local library or bookstore. Jared purchased an Italian language book that has hundreds of different phrases that are used in everyday conversational language. It’s great to skim through and read on the bus, train, or plane ride!
- Tandem language exchanges! I haven’t actually gone through with this myself just yet, but basically what it is is a casual meetup/conversation with a person of the native language in exchange for them to practice English with you! At least this way you can save yourself the humiliation of poor language communication in front of a group of people and instead be corrected by one person who’s expecting mistakes.
- Sounds pretty obvious, but living with an Italian host family has probably been the most effective of them all. Of course not everyone can live with a family that speaks the language you are studying but you gotta work with what you got! Being surrounded by it, speaking and listening to it everyday, is the best way to fully immerse yourself in it.
Learning new things and constantly educating myself in any given subject is something I am always striving to do. I feel like I’m still a student in life post graduation, learning all kinds of things by living in a foreign country. My father speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and is studying Mandarin so it’s no wonder my peak for challenging my brain is always heightened; I think I may have got it from him. 😉
If you have any suggestions on how to grasp a new language that I didn’t mention above, please feel free to mention them in the comments below. Technology is always way ahead of me so there can be different methods that I didn’t even know about !
All my love,
The above photo is not mine. It was obtained from Unsplash.