Let’s assume you’ll be visiting Italy at some point in the future. Perhaps for your holiday this summer?
Of course then, you’ll be looking for ways to practice the Italian you’ve learnt.
Hopefully all that effort will pay off when it comes to:
- buying a ticket for the aiport bus
- navigating from the bus drop-off point to your hotel
- checking in
- ordering food and drinks
- telling taxi drivers where you’d like to go / complaining about their driving style
- thanking people, discouraging beggars
- asking for information / buying tickets at the attractions you visit
and so on.
Having the basics of the language that’s spoken in the country you’re in will stand you in excellent stead, even in situations in which people (hotel reception staff) are likely to speak English anyway.
It’s polite to at least try, as well as being potentially fun!
But why stop at the obvious ways to practice?
Here are more interesting suggestions:
- take an interest in what’s going on in in the place you’re visiting – ‘follow’ local businesses, cultural associations and attractions in your social media account(s)
- join email lists for anything that will send you content in the language you’re learning. Political parties and pressure groups are good for this – look out for young people with petitions to sign, as they’re likely to be good for a chat!
- take a tour IN the language your learning, rather than in English. You won’t understand so much but you might have a chance to chat with the other people on the tour…
- go to the cinema and watch a film in the language you’re studying
- write reviews of the places you visit online – try doing it in the language you’re learning. Sometimes you’ll even get a reply
- take a municipal bus, tube, local train or ferry, just to see where it goes. Chat to people sitting near you
- look for the walks and trails that locals use at weekends and use them too
- visit municipal parks that are off the beaten track for visitors
- take a bus or train to someplace nearby that isn’t an obvious destination and explore that too
- look out for local events – concerts, festivals, civic gatherings. Join in!
- go to a gym or swimming pool
- shop in a supermarket. A picnic in the park or on the beach is as much fun as eating in a restaurant, and better value
- eat street food
- go into a bookshop. Buy something with Italian text and plenty of pictures – cookery books are good. Comic books, too.
- buy a newspaper or magazine from the newspaper stall (and at least leaf through it…)
- use the ATM without changing the language to English
- find out what the local radio station is and listen to it each morning (you can get FM radio apps for smartphones. Or go crazy and buy a real radio!)
- eat whatever the locals eat for breakfast, wherever the locals eat it
- go to a library if you can find one. You probably won’t be able to join, but there’s nothing to stop you browsing or sitting awhile (they might have air-conditioning and toilets…)
- wherever you go, pick up leaflets and read them
- above all, interact with people! Compliment them, ask questions about their jobs and how many kids/grandkids they have. Make friends!
- And don’t be afraid to exchange contact information, so you can stay in touch when you get home. An exchange of emails or Facebook messages is a good way to practice.
If you’re going to interact with people, expect not to understand much at first.
But also, expect things to get easier in a few days – they usually do.
Watch out for pickpockets (especially on public transport).
Carry your wallet in your front pocket, keep your purse zipped up.
But other than that, no need to be too paranoid. Worrying too much is a barrier to meeting people and having interesting conversations.
So, all that said, I leave on MY holiday today.
I’m going to Istanbul, in Turkey. It’ll be my first visit to that country for twenty-five years, so I’ve lots of catching up to do!
Watch out for articles from OnlineItalianClub.com on Friday, and on Monday and Wednesday next week, to see how I get on, and whether I follow my own advice. Or maybe get my wallet stolen…
Cuma günü görüşürüz!
Yesterday’s EasyItalianNews.com broadcast is here.
If you haven’t read/listened to it yet, you should.
And in the medium term, it helps.