I’m on a mission to learn Italian, and my blog is where I’m recording my trials and tribulations for my own personal research interest, and I hope to inspire others who are learning Italian along the way (we’re all in this together!).
I had a long list of Italian goals for the Clear the List challenge this January, BUT this is what happened in January: I studied (mostly) French. Sometimes you just can’t plan because LIFE.
Some of you may or may not know that French was my first foreign language. It was a bittersweet experience…but it still does have a nostalgic allure.
So how in the world did I end up studying French again after an 8 year hiatus?
It was part peer pressure, part destiny.
There are all these polygots online studying like 7 languages, and I’ve been over here bumbling through one. I was inspired that maybe multilingualism could be for me too? I thought I would give it a shot and dabble in French again, just to maintain it, with Italian still being my main focus.
And partly, I couldn’t help but be immersed in French 5 days a week, 6 hours a day, for 3 weeks this January.
One of my part-time gigs that gives me a flexible schedule and maximizes my freedom during my Great Career Change (perhaps I’ll write more about why & how later) is a high school baby-sitter…errr, substitute during breaks from teaching at the university.
The thing about following your passions is sometimes you have to find temporary solutions to make permanent changes.
This January I lucked out with a 3 week gig in a French class, and I was pleasantly surprised how after so much time, my French is still there. I felt much more confident in French than I ever did as a student. I feel like my French accent is not terrible, and that I can look at any French word and pretty much know how to pronounce it, so it was somewhat charming and amusing to hear these kids in their VERY strong American accents, literally pronounce every letter. I mean, us Anglophones have all been there when we started learning French, right? #somanysilentlettersinFrench
They were learning complément d’object direct for the first time, and one girl’s mind was totally blown that in French object pronouns go before the verb as in “Je le mange” (not to mention an object pronoun was just as much a foreign concept to them as French).
I also got to read an article about immigration in France, which was aptly timed since I heard about the rise of Marine Le Pen (who is anti-immigration) on NPR that morning while driving to school.
And the best part? I got to watch Les Parapluies de Cherbourg like 5 TIMES (and then it just happened to be on TV that week too!). It’s a charming, but achingly tragic love story that is entirely sung, starring Catherine Deneuve (who although very beautiful, does not pass for 17 in the movie!). I can’t believe I’ve never seen it before! It’s definitely one of my favorite French films now. Not to mention, the male lead is played by Nino Castelnuovo. I thought, his name sounds Italian! And lo and behold, he is!
This month I realized that my French comprehension is still better than my Italian (well, it should be…I minored in French in college). It’s strange though. I feel comfortable listening to French, but not speaking it (unless it’s in front of a bunch of high school kids).
I also realized that French only helps me with Italian and vice versa. In addition to sharing many grammatical features, both languages have Latin roots, making new vocabulary a cinch to pick up. For example, during my last visit to Italy, I remember seeing rallentare all over the roads warning people to slow down. So when I encountered ralentir in a French text, I knew immediately what it meant. It also reminds me vaguely of the English relent.
What about Italian?
I managed to squeeze in a little Italian in January, though not as much as I would have liked.
As a result, I have this renewed passion and burning desire to learn Italian (absence makes the heart grow fonder). I want to immerse myself in Italian so that when I return to Italy this summer I can have great conversations.
I did what little things I could, like changing the language on my phone to Italian. This even allows me to translate Instagram posts into Italian! I also try to follow a lot of Italian accounts, so that every time I check social media, I am also learning something. My goal is to write more Instagram comments in Italian.
My main focus this month was clothing vocabulary, so I did some “shopping” on zara.it and watched clothing hauls and OOTD in Italian on YouTube. I found that these authentic contexts were much more motivating for me than studying exercises in a textbook. Not to mention, textbooks usually give the most general terms for clothing, and “shopping” online gave me the most contemporary and useful vocabulary.
I also started using Duolingo again, just because it is quick and easy to use on the go. I love how it gives me daily reminders to study Italian too (although I missed too many consecutive days, so they quit sending them…oops :/).
I attempted to do some language challenges on Instagram #languagediarychallenge with Joy of Languages and #iglc with Linday Does Languages, but I unexpectedly got TWO other teaching jobs while I was subbing, leaving me absolutely zero free time. I love the support and accountability of sharing my language learning progress on social media. It has been so much fun connecting with other language lovers. I definitely plan to incorporate social media into my language learning if not daily, at least weekly!
I’ll be back soon with a February update since I was so late posting my January update!
Let me know in the comments, how have you been studying Italian lately?