Posts tagged ‘language learning’

April 9, 2012

Language Lessons.

By the time you read this, I’ll (hopefully) be on my way to Italy. Where I will attempt to use the three sentences I’ve managed to learn during my not-so-successful experience of self-taught Italian language lessons. I have realised that in order to make lots of progress, I need more structure to my language learning and a proper teacher. It has been fun learning slowly on my own though, and I need to remember that fun is partly the reason for learning.

I had to make fast progress with my Italian the last time I was there. We had a villa and I had to call the housekeeper (who spoke no English) and confirm my arrival time, that I needed the to collect the keys from her, and the location. A difficult situation, considering that I spoke no Italian at all and was armed only with an phrase book. Still, I managed it and it taught me a lesson.

So often I have waited until I thought I was good enough to do something before doing it, so I don’t let anyone down, or worse, make a giant fool of myself. I’ve since realised that I’m never going to be good at anything if I don’t at least try. Purely because I am interested in so many things, I never devote enough time to learning just one thing, in the way that a specialist would put in the hours and hours of study of a single thing in order to be truly exceptional. I will never be a concert pianist! However, waiting until I’m ‘perfect’ is no use at all, it just means I grind to a halt and never experience the things that I truly want to.

So my new attitude is to do things badly, instead of not doing them at all. I’m going to jump in, make a mess and be absolutely rubbish. Really, the worst that can happen (as long as we’re talking sensible things here, not attempting surgery) is that I probably will make a fool of myself. However, the next time I try the same thing, I will make less of a fool of myself, and so on. So, the waiters of Rome are going to be at the mercy of my three sentences, because I plan to unleash them at every opportunity in the hope that after three days of repeating myself, I will be a little less foolish. A little better.

In a similar vein, I wrote my first review as a guest blogger for The Culture Vulture recently. It was a small review piece about the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival, but the minute I pressed send on my email, I wanted to retrieve it so I could re-write the whole thing. It was a good example for me of jumping in and taking a risk. Assuming I get the chance, the next time I write for them, I will be better, but the fact is that my little post was published on a website that I value and respect enormously, So I’ve made progress with something I’ve been trying to pluck up the courage to do for ages and it is such a great feeling.

Next on the list of things to do badly are kayaking and (possibly) singing or even hula hooping…

So, perhaps you could take a risk and have a go at something scary, instead of waiting until you think you’re good enough. You never know, you’re probably already better than you think…

December 30, 2011

On ballet and other things…

On Wednesday I had the great pleasure of spending the evening with my husband and daughter watching a new production from the Northern Ballet – Beauty and the Beast. It’s not the first time I’ve been to see a Northern Ballet performance. A quick look through the programmes I’ve collected over the years reveals that I’ve seen The Nutcracker (at least twice), Peter Pan, Dracula, Swan Lake and Cleopatra, amongst others. I suppose I’ve become something of a devotee. However as this was a completely new production, I’m still counting it as one of my 35:35 challenges, and you can’t stop me!

We had a wonderful time and Eve was enthralled by the dancing. As usual, the performance was stunning. I love to watch the dancers, recognisable from having seen them so many times, dance in new performances. With every production, it feels as though I know them better, and they are always remarkable. I am proud to live in a city with such a dance company. I highly recommend you visit their website (via the link above) and try to see a performance during the Spring Tour for 2012. I am already planning my visit to see Madame Butterfly. Beauty and the Beast will also form part of this Tour.

As the artistic director David Nixon said in the programme, some of the costume design was inspired by Thierry Mugler and Issey Miyake and this could be seen in the dramatic folded shapes of some  and the colours used throughout. One of my claims to fame is that Julie Anderson, who now creates these amazing costumes, made my wedding dress. It was the only time I’ve ever had anything made to measure; a wonderful experience.

It’s not the first time I’ve taken Eve to the ballet. She went to see the Nutcracker when she was just three and even then, was really well behaved, simply because she loves to watch the dancing so much. From the age of two, she’s has gone to a dance class. She did Baby Ballet and now does a weekly class at Yorkshire Dance. Recently, she’s also started horse riding, and I’ve also taught her a few phrases in French and Italian. Now, before you start thinking that I’m one of those pushy mothers, I want to reassure you that I’m not. Eve will carry on doing these things only as long as she’s enjoying herself. She did have swimming lessons for about half an hour, before turning blue from the cold (she’s very slim) and crying. So, no more swimming lessons.

Horse riding is something I’ve always done ( I have a degree in Equine Science) and wanted to share with her, and as far as the language learning goes, she loves to learn a few words. As small children are still learning their primary language anyway, it’s a great time to learn a little of another, and she was very thrilled to be able to say ‘ciao‘ to everyone we met in Italy on holiday – and was usually rewarded with a smile, pat on the head, gentle pinch of the cheek or in a restaurant, a little treat. So, needless to say, language learning has gone down very well with her! I think it’s important to at least try to learn a little of the language of any country I visit, even if it’s just to confront the image of the British tourist who merely shouts slowly in English, and so I am learning Italian myself – as those of you who have visited here before will know.

The reason for these classes is that my basic attitude to parenting is to share as many things with both of my children as possible and let them choose what to keep doing and what to drop. My son is now two and a half and just starting to show that he’s interested in something other than ‘Little Red Tractor’, so I need to think about what he might like to try soon. I plan to let them experience as many different sports, arts, science, travel, language and literature opportunities as possible, just to show them the world. Then, if they choose to continue spending time on any of those things, I will do what I can to support them, and if they choose to drop all of them in favour of something they have discovered for themselves, I will support that too…