I’ve got many dreams. One of them is to speak Italian. I mean: farfalle, bambini, amore. Don’t these words sound magical? To me they do. I don’t remember when I developed my love for this language. Probably the first time I heard an Italian speak. I just know I believe this is the most beautiful language on the planet. It sounds passionate, musical, warm, friendly, happy. What’s not to love?
When I was on vacation in Italy about six years ago, I was able to read a restaurant menu immediately and I could properly order a sandwich within a few days. Somehow the language was so familiar to me. I saw the resemblance to French and Latin, both of which I had learned in school. So here I was, wanting to learn this language and appearing to be good in it. Perfect match, right? So obviously I can speak it fluently now!
Except… I cannot. My two-week vacation in Italy was the only time in my life that I ever tried speaking Italian. I buried my dream and moved on with my boring everyday life. But I cannot hide from this dream any longer. I put it on my list now!
No. 22: Learn basic Italian, then have a simple conversation with an Italian person.
There it is. Within 1001 days (read: 725 days from now on), I have to able to speak Italian. Since you don’t learn a language in one day, I figured it would be best to start right from the beginning of my Day Zero Project. And I did. I downloaded the language learning app DuoLingo and faithfully started practicing Italian every day. And then I stopped again. I don’t know why. I guess I got so busy I forgot, or stalled. But that’s a stupid excuse, it only costs me fifteen minutes to practice every day.
Il gatto mangia il topo. That’s what I can say in Italian. It means: the cat eats the mouse. Now here’s an everyday sentence! It won’t get me far in any basic conversation at all, which should be, because it’s part of my goal. So I decided I had to make a new plan! No stalling anymore! This is how I am going to learn Italian within the next few months:
Step 1 – Practice Italian everyday with one of these apps for at least fifteen minutes:
This is the app I already used and I like it very much. Every lesson contains just a few words and it just takes a few minutes to finish the lesson. Each lesson includes the elements reading, listening, writing and speaking. Yes, you can even practice your pronunciation! This is probably the most helpful tool in the app. Because if you know all the words but do not have a clue on how to pronounce them, you’re screwed in a conversation. No-one will be able to understand your perfectly practiced Italian.
I have downloaded this app to be able to alternate. I haven’t tried it yet though, so I cannot give my opinion on it yet.
Step 2 – Learn one new page of my picture book each day, five pages a week.
I found this book in the supermarket of all places! It’s kind of like a dictionary, but with pictures. It’s color coded by subject, which is very useful. This way I won’t have to learn the words chronologically, but I can choose which subject I would like to learn first. I think I will first learn food, since I like to cook, and hobbies, since that is a very common topic for a basic conversation, don’t you think?
Step 3 – Read and understand children’s books.
It’s summer time! And what do people do in summer? Right, they go on vacation! Two of my friends were going to Italy, so I asked them to look for very simple children’s books while they were there. One of my friend already returned to the Netherlands and she has bought me these adorable little books! I think this is the perfect way to learn the language, because if you can read a book (even if it’s for little children), it starts to become real! I was so proud to be able to understand the covers already. Although I got completely lost on the first pages already, I got the feeling I am already going somewhere.
Step 4 – Watch Italian movies with subtitles and listen to Italian music while reading the lyrics
I basically added this step to make learning the language more fun. And to make myself more familiar with the language. I am not planning on understanding every word in the movies or the songs, but by hearing the language so often I will probably start recognizing certain words at one point. Or I’ll hear a certain word so often I’ll get curious and look it up in the dictionary. I also will get familiar with pronunciation and grammar, which can only be helpful.
Step 5 – Write in Italian with my Italian pen pal
Very recently I subscribed to a pen pal group on Facebook. I absolutely love it! I mean, how great is it to receive things in your mailbox other than nasty bills? Anyway, one of the members of the group is Italian, so I asked her to be my pen pal. She said she’d loved to! I already received my first letter of her today. Right now we are writing in English, but I hope to be able to throw in more and more Italian phrases each time so that we can eventually completely write in Italian to each other.
Step 6 – Meet with my Italian friend to practice our languages
In my theater group there’s an Italian girl. She really wants to practice her Dutch and I really want to practice my Italian. Can you see where this is going? We talked about meeting each other regularly and then start in one language and only speak that language for ten minutes. Then we would switch to the other language and only speak that for another ten minutes. And after that we are allowed to talk English. Maybe we’ll have to use a bit of English in our first sessions, to explain what we were saying, but we cannot use English for any other reason.
Step 7 – Have a basic conversation with an Italian person
And we’re back to my goal. I believe that this step will flow logically out of step 5, don’t you think? I can’t wait!
Do you have any other suggestions on how to improve my Italian? Please let me know in the comments!