Parlo italiano (or not)

choosing italian & materials

Few months ago I wanted to try something different. Or let’s just put it this way: I wanted to try another language. Italian has been on my mind for awhile, because I know Spanish to some degree (I understand it pretty well, my speaking needs practice). And of course I know that Spanish and Italian are pretty close, I mean, I can even understand some Italian (written) with my Spanish.

I happened to be at Barnes & Noble and I looked at their language section trying to find a book I could study with. I’m a bit picky with my material, so it took me a long time. They had surprisingly good selection in Italian, considering I don’t live in a big place. In the end I decided to start with Language Hacking Italian by  Benny Lewis. I don’t quite believe you can get fluent in 3 months, but of course that depends on your definition of fluent. However, the book looked pretty good and I kind of wanted to try out this series that so many people love.

Trying it out

So I was really excited and I got to work right away. I did the first chapter. This was about 4 months ago and I still haven’t gotten around to study further. This is not because of the book or Italian, just that my personal life and work has been busy and there has been some changes.

Anyway, I quite liked the first chapter and in some ways I really like the way the book approaches things. I like that the language study is made as approachable as possible. I did the assignment, which is “my script” of introducing myself. I did a video (the image quality is not great partly due to lighting, but I think I did ok with the text and pronunciation):

Now, to be fair, I wrote this first and then posted in the italki notebook and corrected the text according to the native speaker corrections. But my original attempt was not far. All in all I feel I did pretty well and learned a lot at the same time. I did record the video like 30+ times before I was happy, though. Sometimes and in some things I’m a perfectionist… I do want to finish the book and the assignments and I think this can actually teach me a lot of Italian.

I do have one problem with the book and it’s approach. There’s a lot of talk about how this way you learn things you really need: the words to explain about yourself and who you are. This, in my opinion, though, only addresses part of the conversation. Because if you’re talking with someone, you do need to understand them as well. That’s why even though you’re not a doctor or a teacher, you might need these words because someone else might be. There is some vocabulary like this, but I would really like to have more examples. Like have a chapter of mini presentations from other people, which would teach you different ways of saying these things.

This is a tiny problem, though, because the book is for beginners. So in the end, you need to start from somewhere, and it’s not bad to start from presenting yourself. I think I will learn a lot of Italian if I manage to finish this book. And it’s definitely a positive surprise. One major thing I like is that you’re actually making sentences yourself from the beginning. This will definitely improve your skills in the language. I think mostly the book wants you to not to worry too much and just talk about yourself. My approach is a bit different, but it works for me.

From here onward

As I mentioned, I’ve had a hard time to keep myself studying. I don’t stress too much about this, because I’m doing this for fun and I’ve been stressed about work and other things. However, I have tried a bit of Duolingo, which I think could be a good addition, especially to learn a bit more vocabulary. And I’ve been looking into other sources, as I like to have many, but I think in the beginning I should just try to finish something, which likely will be the Benny Lewis book.

I do find Italian fairly easy since I speak Spanish. Also French is helpful. And because the other languages I’m dabbling in/studying are Japanese, Persian, Maori, and Klingon, it’s nice to have a break and do some Italian instead. It definitely is closer to other languages I speak than any of my other new languages (well, Japanese is not really new, but I’ve forgotten most of it). Once I my routines a bit more back in place, I think I will definitely continue with Italian and I think I can learn it quite quickly to ok enough level to start listening to podcasts and reading in the internet.

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