Do you ever feel that learning Italian could be beyond you? Would you say you are too old, too slow, or simply not “good at languages”? Take heart! Things may not be as bad as you think…
We know how you feel, because we are both learners and teachers of foreign langauges, and because we meet many people every week with the same desire as you: to learn to speak a foreign language. And the same worries that you have, too.
Unfortunately, when it comes to language learning, “success”, however it is defined, seems less common than “failure”.
Basically, most people simply don’t know much about language learning. They don’t know what to expect, how long it’s going to take, and what to do to maximise their chances of success.
So they don’t do as well as they would have liked to.
We think that’s a shame, so we’ve published a series of articles which will advise, encourage and support you on your journey to finally speaking and understanding Italian. The series is called:
The 10 Secrets of language learning success
This article is a summary of the whole series: just click “Read the whole article here” after each “secret” to, well, read the whole article.
Secret no. 1 Learning a language takes time
Lots of time. Your ability to communicate with words, and to understand the words of others, was developed over years or decades. Think a few hours of classes will enable you to do the same in a foreign language? Think again! (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 2 You need a reason to learn
Sustaining any effort over a long period needs a constant stimulus to action. We get lots of opera singers studying Italian – there are lots of operas in Italian. Go figure. (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 3 There’s more to it than just grammar
Grammar is easy to teach, easy to learn, but doesn’t result in fluent speech or easy understanding. The neural networks that do those things are somewhere else in your brain, and they need nourishing too. (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 4 You need to read a lot
Where do you think you learnt all those words in your native language? Not from your Mom, or your elementary school teacher, that’s for sure. Your decades of reading have shaped your knowledge and understanding of your native language. If you want to be a knowledgeable user of Italian, there’s no way around it. You have to start reading a lot in Italian too. (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 5 Let the buyer beware
We’re lousy salespeople at onlineitalianclub.com. We tell you up-front how hard it will be and how long it will take. Beware of anyone who does otherwise! (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 6 Learn how we learn
You wouldn’t buy a car, just because the salesman told you to, would you? Do your own research on language-learning methodology. It won’t take you more than a few hours, and you’ll be able to put your teacher on the spot when you want to give her a hard time! (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 7 Guess meanings from context
Dictionaries are great, in their place. But when you’re reading, or listening, you need a way of dealing with unknown words which is quicker and doesn’t obstruct the interaction. “Hang on! I’ll just look that up in my dictionary!” will soon get old. If in doubt, “Smile and nod”! (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 8 Multi-task
Find time to learn Italian by combining “learning rich opportunities” with other daily tasks. Listen to Italian books on your daily commute, for example. Or read Italian websites on your lunchbreak. (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 9 Be the one with the plan!
Spending a little time organising your study time will pay benefits – you will find time to study, without making great sacrifices, and also achieve a more efficient balance between input (grammar, vocabulary) and skills activities (reading, listening, writing, speaking). Result? A more sustainable, more effective learning experience. (Read the whole article here )
Secret no. 10 Motivation
Recognise that this is your “Achilles heel”. You lose your motivation, you fail to learn Italian. So spend more time on things which really interest you, than on the irregular verbs, which you WILL eventually pick up, if you don’t lose interest in the language. Nurture your motivation, boredom is the enemy!! (Read the whole article here )
Bonus: secret no. 11 Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
And finally.. if you want to learn to speak a language, you have to speak! Given that you don’t know how to do it, it’s inevitable you’re going to make mistakes and feel embarassed, but if that weren’t the case, you wouldn’t be trying to learn, would you?
If you have something interesting to say (or if you’re pretty), people will interact with you, grammar mistakes and all. As a consequence, you’ll improve. If, on the other hand, your priority is grammatical purity, you’ll not be much fun to chat with, and will have fewer chances of practising your Italian. (Read the whole article here )
Over twenty years of living in foreign countries, teaching foreign languages, have taught me that what YOU think about language learning is NORMAL!
It’s normal to feel that you’ll never get there, that it’s an impossible task, that you’re not clever enough. But it’s not true! You can learn Italian. We hope this advice will help you succeed!
P.S. These “secrets” articles are in no particular order, so do take the time to read through them. There’s a lot of useful advice there!