Well maybe not fluent, but able to put together a sentence which a native Italian recognises as their language, have a clue what they tell me when I ask for directions and order with confidence in a rustic trattoria with neither photos nor translation…
OK, this isn’t a high bar to reach but getting ‘operational’ in a language gives me an excessive sense of pride, and I feel much more confident and relaxed when travelling with those few communicative words to hand.
I’ve studied Italian on and off in the past so there’s a bit of vocab and grammar somewhere in my psyche – what I’ve got to do is drag it into the light of day and get it somewhere near my brain and lips when needed.
Here's my plan, let's
- Download the app Duolingo
This is a great app for vocab. It only takes 10 mins a day and gives you primary school tasks to create sentences with flashcards. Easy, quite motivational, probably a bit superficial, but you’re using Italian words and hearing them spoken all the time, which can’t be bad.
- Watch Italian films
This is fun. I went to my local cinema club to see a 70’s political thriller (Investigation of a citizen above suspicion) and sat behind a tall guy so I couldn’t see the subtitles too easily.Result: didn’t understand much of the film but good marks for effort.
- Use BBC online language learning
Lots of people recommend this but it’s frustrating at the moment as the Beeb has archived much of their language learning content and stuff just doesn’t work. There’s a mystery drama which I’d love to try but can’t get it to play. BBC seems to be moving to paid-for apps and resources so maybe I’ll try one. However I did find this gem from the 1990s on YouTube - BBC Italianissimo If you’re into retro TV, this is the one for you – and the language tips are just the same as now!
- Go through all my notes from past lessons
Terribly boring if not incomprehensible. Gotta do it on a rainy afternoon.
- Go to Italy
Much more fun though definitely higher risk to actually speak the language rather than playing on Duolingo or re-reading verb lists
So I’ll be posting a progress report with my top tips for actually making yourself understood (when I’ve managed to do so).
Augurami buona fortuna e ciao!