Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 1
Learning a language can be really exciting…it’s like decoding a puzzle and discovering a whole new world. It isn’t just about learning how to say something in another language…it is also about taking in the culture that is married to it. That can be a real adventure.
Having grown up with an Italian father I became accustomed to life as an Italian. My father and his family brought with them many traditions and experiences that make up who I am today. Having tomatoes line the floor of our garage may seem strange to some but to me it’s autumn. Building a “cantina” or “wine cellar/cold room” in our house didn’t seem pointless…it houses the homemade sausages, wine and sauces that are staples to any great Italian meal. However, with all of this culture around me the one thing I missed out on was learning how to speak Italian. With my mother, a stay at home mom who was Canadian, I was brought up speaking English. Although we spent the majority of our lives surrounded by our Italian side…the language was something that was never really pushed on us. I took Italian classes in school but never learned much more than the basics.
I would like to go to Italy this summer with a greater understanding and use of the Italian language. I understand most Italian but it’s the speaking part of it that needs work. So I have immersed myself in all that is Italian – movies, music, cooking, and news. I am learning so much more than I ever thought I would. That is not to say that I am fluent in Italian…I am by no means close to that yet. But my understanding of the language is getting stronger and with some time and practice I can be in a place where I am confident and comfortable speaking the language.
Learning a language certainly isn’t easy. I was going through my textbook and said to myself “I need to figure out how to conjugate verbs”. I can structure a sentence in Italian if it’s something basic and in the present tense but what about the past or future. So I grabbed my very informative Italian Grammar book and began to focus my attention on conjugating Italian verbs.
I felt defeated!
Take the word “Parlare” (to talk). Did you know that there are 57…yes 57…ways to conjugate the verb “to talk”. They say English is one of the hardest languages to learn but I’m pretty sure that we don’t have 57 different ways to conjugate the verb “to talk”. And it’s different for other verbs that have different endings. There are a number of different verb endings in Italian, for example -are (parlare), -ciare (cominciare), -ire (venire), -giare (mangiare), -care (giocare), and so on. Depending on how the verb ends changes how the ends of the conjugated verb ends. Confused yet? Ya, I know.
I see a lot of cue cards and memorization in my future! But I know, once I get those basics down I will be much further ahead then I have ever been in mastering the Italian language.
The funniest part of all of this is that I am learning “proper” Italian. At some point I’m going to have to learn the dialect of my family’s town…but from being around my family…our dialect isn’t as bad as some towns. 😛
Does anyone have tips or tricks for learning a language?
Ci vediamo!! (“see you”)