Posts tagged ‘language’

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…

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June 9, 2011

Buongiorno, numero due!

I’ve written before on my preferred styles of learning, and my desire to have a go at some new methods, and it seems that the 35:35 Challenge is a great opportunity to give them a go!

One of my 35 Challenges was to visit somewhere new. Although I adore Paris with a passion I reserve for very few things, the world is a very big place and to only return to the same place, however wonderful, feels a bit self- limiting. So, even though I will be attempting (finances notwithstanding) to continue the annual pilgrimage to Paris, I am going to try and see a bit more of the world too.

With the children being so young, and with one eye on my carbon footprint, this really means the UK and Europe for now. We took the kids to Italy when they were small; Ben was only 4 months old, which when I think back, was actually quite a brave thing to do. Mind you, at least small babies stay where you put them! Now he’s two, I need eyes in the back of my head. The people we met in Italy were just lovely, the Tuscan countryside was amazing, and I loved the places we visited, such as Lucca and Florence, even though I spent much more time lounging around in local cafes than going to visit the Renaissance art!

So, as a result of that experience, I’ve decided to visit Rome. I’ve never been, it looks incredible and I can get there easily. This is going to be a break for just my husband and I, with the little ones staying with their adored and long-suffering grandparents ( thank you!)

Anyway, the point of all this waffle is that I always like to learn a bit of the language of any country I visit. I think it’s only polite, plus it usually means that  you have a better experience. Paris has a reputation for being a rude city, but I’ve never experienced this, perhaps because everyone is too busy trying not to laugh at my appalling accent…

So it’s time to commence Challenge 2 – to learn Italian. I managed a little bit the last time we visited, and Eve was happily shouting “ciao” to everyone after only a day there – proof that language learning is easiest when you’re a small child!

To do this, I have chosen several different new learning methods.

Number 1: Earworms. This is a very new idea for me and is based around the understanding that we retain information better when it’s delivered to us via music and rhythm – how many of us remember odd phrases in foreign languages as a result of song lyrics? Here’s the link, if you fancy a look: earworms mbt® is a revolutionary accelerated learning technique that takes the hard work out of learning.  I’ll be uploading this to my Ipod and listening to it every day.

Number 2: BBC Active | Talk Italian is the second method I’m going to use. A more traditional book and CD to work through, I’ve had a bit of success using this kind of method before, but it does require a bit more time spending on it, sitting at home and working through exercises.

Number 3: The third method is a bit of fun. MindSnacks Italian – Language Learning Program for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store. This is basically a games based language learning app for the iPhone, which helps you to learn more vocabulary through spelling and recognition.

So, there we are, I’m starting today. Wish me luck.

Ciao!