I have been playing with Italian since mid-June using the methods outlined in Gabriel Wyner’s book, Fluent Forever.
I read it a while ago and was blown away by how easy it is to pick up a language if you go about it the right way – taking advantage of how the human brain remembers information. (At least, Gabe makes it seem easy!)
Little did I know back in June that I’d fall head-first in love with this language. I am having a blast, and let me tell you why.
Saying Italian words is fun! The rolled R (“rospo”) and double Vs (“evviva”) are like a party in your mouth. Then there are the long vowels that are like singing. The whole lyrical nature of Italian is super fun and makes me feel alive. Bonus – I am not a fan of the guttural French R, and Italian does not have this!
There are lots of connections with English words that make you aware of where the English words came from. English is about half German and half Latin, so quite frequently a light bulb goes off and I’m pleasantly surprised to make a connection with the Latin origin of a word. For example, the Italian word sano, which means “healthy”, comes from the same Latin root sanus that gives us English words like “sanitary” and “sanitarium”.
Italian is considered the easiest language for English-speakers to learn. I am all about ease right now, and the easier I can learn it, the more fun it is and the more confident I feel.
Also, I’m looking forward to the day I’ll be able to research my Italian family history without plugging every word into Google Translate.
Likewise, I loooove Italian Renaissance art and I know a whole new world will open for me once I’m fluent.
The resources I’m using are:
- Fluent Forever as my plan of action
- Anki (computer program) for spaced repetition flashcards every day
- The 30 Minute Italian Podcast (hosted by Cher Hale), which I listen to in my car
- Italy Made Easy on YouTube (hosted by Manu)
I ordered the book Practice Makes Perfect: Complete Italian Grammar, by Marcel Danesi, but it hasn’t arrived so I can’t comment on it yet.
The most important things that have made this fun and easy are:
- practicing flashcards daily
- being honest when I don’t get a flashcard correct (it’s very tempting to pretend that forgetting an accent mark is okay, but it’s not okay!)
- incorporating Italian words and short phrases into my daily life, like saying “grazie” when a traffic light stays green for me and “pronto” when answering the phone
- listening to people speak in Italian even when I don’t understand what they’re saying
Future parts of Operation Italian Delight include listening to Italian music and memorizing the lyrics. I’ve also studied Japanese and French, and singing songs in another language is the number one way to get familiar with it fast, in my experience.
My biggest challenge will be talking in Italian to other people. I’m not a people person and so it will be hard for me to take the plunge and speak with either Italians or others learning Italian. I know, too, that I want to do a really good job so I may hold off on it too long, hoping to be totally fluent before speaking to anyone – which is obviously ridiculous. As in other areas of my life, I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be the best and it’s okay not to be perfect.
Wish me luck and good luck to you if you are learning a language too!
Image credit: my photo of vocabulary practice.