Studying a language can be rewarding and fun, but more often it’s hard-work, expensive, time-consuming, frustrating, de-motivating, and lots of other heavy things.
But what if you knew a way to improve your Italian WITHOUT studying? Without spending money on materials or courses? Without sitting through boring lessons? Without doing any homework?
And, at the same time, having a good time, doing things you like.
Too good to be true?
Well.. let me give you a language-learning tip that was given to me by a student, and which I have, in turn, passed on many times.
This student (an Italian woman learning English) spoke excellent French, but had never studied the language formally. I asked her how she’d picked it up with such success.
Simple, she said. Each summer she would book her holidays through a travel agent in Paris, usually choosing a coach tour, though not normally of France itself. Over the years she’d visited Spain, Great Britain, Germany, and so on, but always in the company of 50 or more Parisians.
Being on a coach tour means hours spent getting from one destination to another. So, of course, there was always lots of time to chat. Each year she’d had days and days of French conversation practice and made many new French friends. Following this simple strategy, she quickly became fluent.
If she’d gone instead to a language school, she explained, she’d have been interacting with other foreigners most of the time. And she’d probably have spent more. And she’d have been bored!
Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than spending my holidays on a coach, but I’ve done four or five sailing courses over the last few years, and each time I spend days or weeks in the company of Italians, make new friends, and improve my language skills, as well as my knowledge of sailing.
So, to improve your Italian, try taking the indirect approach. Instead of choosing an Italian language course (such as those available at our sponsor school), think laterally and aim to enjoy a new or existing leisure interest, but in such a way that you spend time interacting with Italians and so improve your language skills.
And if your budget is too limited for a sailing course or a coach tour? Well, what about actually getting a job in Italy, or doing some voluntary work in return for board and lodging? There are lots of temporary jobs available in the tourist industry, especially if you’re willing to work for not very much. Voluntary organisations such as http://www.wwoof.org/ might be worth a look, too.
So, what about you?
If you’ve actually tried learning Italian by NOT studying, I’d love to hear about your experiences…
Why not leave a comment and tell us what you did and whether it worked for you?