Imagine, on your death bed, the many regrets you might have. The things you didn’t say, or do. The mistakes you made. The opportunities you missed. The time you wasted.
Assuming, though that the moment of reckoning has not yet arrived for you, it’s not to late to change course and try to live the perfect life.
It’s just a question of how to proceed.
You might find some useful tips in religious books, or learn philosophy, or read self-help books from Amazon.com. Get them delivered free, or download your selection right now.
It’s time to define your game plan. Start training hard. No time to lose.
But then again… life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans, right?
Of course, OnlineItalianClub.com is dedicated to helping you learn Italian, not to sorting out your other problems for you.
So what’s this post really about?
One question that crops up over and over again on this site and in Italian language schools is:
How can I speak and understand Italian better?
Define “live a perfect life”. Define “speak Italian better”.
Speaking Italian better is what happens to you when you speak Italian often.
It’s not that first you learn Italian perfectly, and then you go out and speak it like a native.
Ask a linguist and they’ll tell you that effective speaking and listening in a foreign language results from having developed communication strategies. That’s teacher jargon. What it means is:
- you know how to guess the things you don’t understand
- you know how to ask for clarification or repetition when you can’t guess
- you know how to shrug and smile when you’re totally lost, rather than get stressed out about it
- you can express yourself and get your meaning across, at least sometimes, even with single words, or signs, or facial expressions, or grunts
- and because you don’t stop too often to worry about conjugating verbs, your listener doesn’t get bored and go find another conversation partner
In short, you may not speak Italian perfectly, or understand Italian perfectly (sure as hell, I don’t), but you learn to get by. And people talk to you and listen to you because of what you CAN say and understand, not what you can’t.
Hey, here’s a funny thing.
The more people talk to you, and the more you talk back (allbeit imperfectly), the more you’ll feel confident that you can get by.
And the more you feel confident that you can get by, the more conversations you’ll get into.
And the more conversations you get into, the more you’ll learn.
Guess what? You’ll have improved your Italian speaking and listening while you were busy doing other things, like chatting up girls, taking cookery classes, or drinking cocktails.
Which reminds me, when I was training as a teacher, there was a part of the course comparing different langauge-teaching methodologies.
Which one would be better? We were keen to know.
One piece of research, though, suggested that, in fact, it probably made no difference what approach we adopted to teaching. What we needed to do was interact with our students in a positive, comprehensible way using the “target” language.
Learning would naturally follow.
Who knows if that’s true?
One thing is obvious, though. If you want to speak and understand Italian better, you’ll have to get some practice in by speaking and understanding Italian imperfectly first.
And fear of making mistakes, looking stupid, not understanding, and so on is definitely NOT HELPFUL.
Your Italian probably sucks.
The sooner you get over that, the sooner you’ll start using it for something meaningful (like writing in our forums), and the sooner it won’t suck so much.
P.S. Last call for the C1/C2 Italian Workout at half price, offer expires tomorrow, July 13th. As I’ve no idea which time zone my website is working on, if you’re interested in saving money on this book, get it today!
P.P.S. You’ll improve your Italian a lot by taking Skype Italian lessons with an expert teacher (the teachers are in Italy – doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you have a good broadband connection).
Anyway, I mention this because I’m getting a special offer ready for next week… So time to start being nice to your partner, so he/she will let you buy some…. And that’ll be two regrets sorted out, improving your Italian speaking/listening, and being nicer to your beloved.