Adventures of Learning a Language – Part 2

In my personal opinion, when it comes to learning a language, there are four basic principles that you need to master:speaking, listening, reading and writing.In my quest to conquer the Italian language, I have immersed myself in the language as much as possible.I have taken areas of interest and incorporated it into my daily life.For example, I enjoy movies, so I make an effort to watch movies in Italian without subtitles so that I am forced to listen to what the characters are saying.

Living in this day and age, we are fortunate to have television programming readily available to us in just about any language. Watching Italian television has been a great way for me to practice my Italian listening comprehension on a daily basis. I’m sure many of you who have gone abroad will understand when I say that even with a decent grasp of vocabulary, understanding someone when they speak to you can be very difficult. Italians in general talk quite quickly, and it can be overwhelming to a rookie. 🙂

Over the past couple years I have tried to watch more Italian television and in the process have become hooked on a couple shows.

Affari Tuoi (RAI International) is an Italian game show similar to “Deal or No Deal”. The shows host, Flavio Insinna, is extremely entertaining. In the Italian version of the game, there are 20 pacchi (boxes) representing one of the 20 regions of Italy and holding those boxes are representatives (and possible future contestants) from each region. There have been some very interesting contestants on this show, always full of energy and emotion.

C’e Posta Per Te (TLN/Telelatino) is sort of like a talk show and attempts to reunite individuals with their long lost loved ones (family, friends, etc). An individual is invited to come to the show with no knowledge of who wants to see/talk to them or why. If the individual accepts the invitation they will find themselves seated in front of a large envelope, which will open to show the person who wishes to see them. It is then the invited guests choice to allow that person to speak, and then ultimately to remove the envelope altogether and be reunited. I am constantly finding myself drawn to the emotional stories of these people always hoping for the best possible outcome.

For me, watching television is a fun way to practice my listening comprehension. You could also try watching movies, or listening to music. Learning a language shouldn’t have to be boring, so if you can incorporate something fun and interesting into the mix it is bound to be a good thing.

What are some of your favourite Italian shows?

  1. Devisee

    June 19, 2008 at 4:56 am

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Devisee.

  2. Jessica Sztaimberg

    June 6, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Hi LuLu,

    Any and everybody can be good at learning a language! Don’t give up…it just takes a lottt of practice…and since you are not in Italy at the moment (I don’t think) you don’t get the same type of practice. All that means is finding creative ways to learn Italian, as you have done, with TV. I just remembered, another fun thing to do is pay video games in another language.. did you know you can play games online in Italian? It will help with picking up more of the language..I’m sure

    Good luck!

  3. LuLu

    June 3, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Jessica Sztaimberg – right now I only speak English and very little Italian. I am one of those people who aren’t that great in languages but I’m determined to learn Italian! 🙂

  4. noggin

    June 2, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Noggin says : I absolutely agree with this !

  5. Jessica Sztaimberg

    May 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Yes yes, Spanish and Italian are very similiar. When I was in Italy, I could actually understand quite a lot. I remember sitting on a tour bus, having a conversation with an elderly Italian man, I was speaking in Spanish, and he was speaking in Italian. We could understand eachother however, and it was a very fun introduction to Italy.

    I will for sure learn Italian someday, just need to percect my Spanish a little.

    What languages do you speak?

  6. LuLu

    May 28, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Jessica Sztaimberg – I agree, when you can learn something and have fun doing it, that’s a total bonus!! I noticed a lot of self-help books about learning Italian tended to be “tourist-driven” which for me isn’t very helpful. The best thing I ever bought was a book on Italian grammar. It is a great reference tool!! I’ve heard once you learn a language it gets easier to learn others…the bonus is Spanish and Italian are very similar so I have no doubt you’d be able to pick it up in no time! 🙂

  7. Jessica Sztaimberg

    May 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I love creative language learning ideas. Watching tv, listening to the radio, reading, and talking on messenger to my Spanish speaking friends are a bunch of the ways that I “practice” Spanish without spending loads of time, or investing in classes. Like you said, it is entirely different to practice a language with yourself or a classmate even, and to speak the language with a local.

    I remember my first attempt- I just kept asking them, “What?!” “Can you say that again?” “Are you speaking Spanish?” It just sounded so different! After a little while though, and a whole of practicing, the conversations made sense, and that was pretty cool!

    TV is definitely a good way to keep up my language skills. Unfortunately I do not speak Italian, yet. I love the way the language sounds though!

  8. LuLu

    May 22, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    nyc/caribbean – TLN also has Everybody Loves Raymond dubbed. I totally agree with you on the host of C’e Posta Per Te…her voice is SO deep!!

  9. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    May 22, 2008 at 5:29 am

    I agree about watching movies and TV.

    I was in Toronto last year for work and used to watch the dubbed Sopranos.

    The host of C’e Posta Per Te has the deepest voice I have ever heard.

  10. Enrico

    May 21, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Immersion is always important, but only part of the whole. While immersion is great for improving reading and listening comprehension, it does almost nothing for speaking and writing skills.

    Still, I think I learned much more Japanese from watching television shows and movies and listening to music than I learned from classroom instruction. The Internet makes it more possible than ever to follow the popular culture of other countries. =)

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