Currently in Italy
Currently, we are in Italy and I find myself struggling each day wanting to be part of the community and understand the locals. We travel mainly by train and there are times, I would like to ask a question, but I hesitate. Un problema — a problem.
My other problem is when we came to Italy for both our 90-day adventures, we had to return to the United States by law for 90-days on our US passports. My husband and I got a bit lazy and didn’t really keep up with the words I had learned. Big mistake, another problema!
Now that we are Italian citizens and will be spending a bit more time here, I think I have a better chance at retention. I also mentioned to Gary I want to continue speaking the words and phrases I have learned when back in the United States. I truly have the attention span of a child when it comes to learning a language. It is hard work. But it takes time and I understand if I put in the time, I will achieve better results. We shall see. I think it’s almost like exercise. I have good intentions but it doesn’t quite happen every day.
Learning a Language
Truly learning a language does require some effort, but no one needs to be fluent to enjoy the beautiful country that is Italy. Locals are very appreciative if you at least make an effort to communicate in their language. I always get a smile or a “thumbs up” when I say, “Sto imparando l’italiano” – translates to “I am learning Italian.” You would be amazed at the recognition and appreciation I get when I just say this one phrase.
During this year-adventure that I am learning, I can make a mistake and stumble. Italians are gracious and correct me. I have finally figured out this is the way I am really going to learn.
A Creative Idea
When visiting Italy, this might be an idea for you. Create flashcards or use the ones we’ve created below if you feel memorizing is not possible. You can print them out on 3×5 photo paper and you will always have them on your fingertips. These are available directly on our blog, here.
I was using my phone to keep the phrases organized but when I needed the words right away, it took me too long to find them on my phone. I like the use of the cards, what do you think?
Install the Google translate app on your phone. I have been usingthis for some time but just figured out it has a camera function that lets you scan the word for instant translation. I have not used the “handwriting” feature but really like the “Conversation” feature and used it many times in Conversano. The voice recognition is great when you don’t want to use the keyboard.
Fun Learning Games
There are also great free apps for your phone for learning. I use Italian Fun, Easy Learn Italian, Italian Lite, and Duolingo. They are a fun way to learn a language. I usually will do this when waiting for an appointment (back in Arizona) or when we are traveling by train in Italy.
If you have access to iTunes, there are several free podcasts that you can download to your computer and smartphone. I am using My Daily Phrase Italian right now. There are 100 episodes and they start from basics and also include situational phrases. I am currently using this podcast too.
When All Else Fails…
When you have exhausted all easy options, look for someone under thirty years old. Most public schools in Italy teach English so the younger generation has some knowledge of the language. You will find though that even though they might “know English” they will usually apologize for not being more fluent or that their English is not good. 99.9% of the time, it’s good enough for us to communicate. My husband, Gary always tells someone, “Your English is better than my Italian.” They always smile and then it’s almost as if he is giving them permission to stumble.