Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Impara l'Italiano

Belladonna, n. In italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues - Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devils Dictionary.

For several years I have vocalised my aspirations to learn a language to friends and family. This was even featured in my blog post back in November 2011. My desire for learning a language was somewhat realised when I was accepted onto an internship in Italy that same year. I successfully completed an intensive two week beginners course in Italian and consolidated my learning by immersing myself in the Italian culture for three months. Upon returning to England, I soon got back into the routine of work and my experience became a distant memory. Learning a language however was still present in every New Years Resolution I made and I would often research language classes in my area, hoping to find one that I could fit into my busy schedule.

The notion of continuously developing oneself has always appealed to me. I have so many desires to learn different instruments (guitar, ukelele, drums and piano to name just a few), a language, dance, arts and crafts; that it has become almost impossible to commit to just one for fear of losing out to another. The irony is, I have never ended up pursuing any for this very reason!

Yesterday however, all that changed. Since becoming acquainted with my dear friend OHJ, I was encouraged and inspired to finally make learning a language a reality. I attended my first Italian language class at Leicester University. I have enrolled onto a 10 week intensive Beginners course which is held for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday between 6-8pm. The times are tight with me finishing work and have added a slight strain to an already burgeoning schedule but I am fully committed. The thought of having homework again is actually quite exciting and I vow to stay organised and consolidate my learning after each class. The course cost £250 but this is quite reasonable for 60 hours worth of tuition and the class size is very small, with only four learners (including myself). I have purchased a student textbook 'Amici' from Amazon to aid my learning, which can be found here. You can of course engage in self directed study but I personally find I excel when I am given direction and incorporate my learning into a routine, for example; attending a class.

It became apparent during the course of the two hour class that the other three learners had previously met before and had in fact attended a 10 week Pre Beginners course back in January. The tutor, Marco, skipped the basics and focused the lesson on how to communicate where we live and describe our home in detail. This included learning the names of different pieces of furniture within the home. The pace was quick and at times uncomfortable when asked to remember phrases and speak full sentences in Italian. Had I not already possessed some prior knowledge of the language, I would have certainly felt out of my depth. But I felt an accomplishment and relief as I stumbled my way through speaking broken Italian and Marco rewarded me with an enthusiastic "molto bene!" I came away from the class feeling inspired, my brain in overdrive trying to process all of the new words. It was a 30 minute walk home in the rain from the university. I found myself muttering out loud the pronunciation for words I had learned. When the realisation hit and I was conscious of what I was doing, I decided that it must be standard when learning a new language.

The message I would like readers to glean from this is; you are never too old to learn. You can make as many excuses to delay something you want to do. Your circumstances may not ever really be ideal. You may lack the time or the funds to invest in such projects. But those things worth doing, you can make happen.