“Learn a Language in Three Months!”
“Italian in a Month!”
“Seven Days To Fluent Italian!”
I haven’t seen “Italian in 24 Hours!” or “60-Minute Italian”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they exist.
One of the various reasons why I’m not a rich man is that I’m inclined to tell people the truth when they ask me how long it will take them to reach a certain level in the language that they’re studying, or plan to.
The consequence being that they choose another language school where the sales staff are less scrupulous.
“At Madrelingua they told me that I’d need a month full-time or a year part-time to improve my Italian by a level. But I need to improve three levels, and I only have two weeks before my exam. What do you guys think?”
“Well… If you work really hard I suppose it’s not impossible…”
“Great! Where do I sign?”
That said, while refusing to promise miracles – no, you won’t be able to understand everything, and neither will you be able to express your thoughts without hesitation or misunderstanding – there ARE plenty of positives.
A lot of people come into a language school, or visit a website like OnlineItalianClub.com, or download an app, not knowing where to begin, and so basically just needing some support.
Which means I am able to say, with a clear conscience and a degree of confidence:
“Do this for a few weeks, perhaps two or three months, and you’ll notice a difference. You’ll FEEL MORE CONFIDENT, which will be a good basis for continuing to improve.”
Can I say that a couple of months of part-time study will miraculously improve your level?
But that period of time is more than enough to get into the habit of studying and/or using the language, and to begin feeling confident about your abilities.
If you’ve studied Italian before, what you do next will help consolidate and activate your previous learning, which is a bonus.
Do something useful, do it consistently for a few months, and you won’t regret it.
That’s (virtually) guaranteed.
Wanna know the REAL SECRET, though?
“Seven Days To Fluent Italian!” is marketing gold, but otherwise nonsense.
“Seven Years To Fluent Italian!” would sell less well, I guess, but is much more realistic.
Suppose you did stuff for thirty-minutes each day – in your lunch break, on your commute, while cooking, in bed at the end of a long day – and did that for a year?
You’d have done approximately 180 hours of practice, whether it be reading, listening, working through a course book or using an app.
There’s no doubt that that would make a difference. Perhaps, even probably, a level or so (there are six).
The difference between a beginner and someone who has been learning for a year is significant, and unmistakable.
Learning a language isn’t rocket science, though.
In fact, it’s one of those pre-loaded applications that are ready to run as soon as you take your brain out of the cardboard box and plug it in.
All you need is a little patience.
Don’t look at me after fifteen minutes and complain: “But it’s not DOING anything!”
Sure it is. Just let it run and you’ll see.
Come back in a few weeks or months, or better still a year, and you’ll find out just what this software is capable of!
So what activities could you do today (for free) that would take you perhaps thirty minutes and would, after a year, pay back big time in terms of your progress with Italian?
Well, you could use the club website, of course. But there’s a lot of it, which can be rather intimidating.
You could listen to the simplified news bulletins on our sister site EasyItalianNews.com. If you listen to and read each bulletin (there’s one each Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday), say three times, that’s your thirty minutes done, three times a week. Now you just have four other days to decide on.
What about reading / listening to a chapter a day of an easy Italian ‘reader’? These aren’t free. We sell them in our shop to pay the club’s bills. See the catalog, where our ‘easy readers’ are listed in level order and from where you can download free sample chapters to check that the level/type of material is suitable.
Last but not least, there’s the club’s ‘Other Resources’ page, which lists many of the resources that club members have recommended over the years.
But where to start?
Below is what I’m currently managing for my own language study. This is a list of what I do more or less every day, with some variation between weekdays and weekends. Of course, it’s more than thirty-minutes’ worth, but language-learning, teaching languages, and writing about them is my job, remember.
- (in bed, before getting up) – I check the news headlines on the Swedish TV website
- (still in bed) – I download the day’s selection of stories from La Mattinale (Le Monde’s app). I have a subscription, and try to read at least one article in French each day
- (while washing last night’s dinner dishes) I listen to the morning news program on Swedish radio
- (on my commute to work and back, and during that dead period in the afternoon) I try to do all three easy Swedish news bulletins – one on the TV, one on the radio and one on a website
- (in the evening, after dinner, before bed) the La Mattinale articles mentioned above, until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer
- (before Friday morning’s Turkish conversation lesson via Skype, and at weekends while working in the kitchen) I listen to Turkish radio stations, CNN Turk for news, TRT FM for music
It might seem like a lot, but the idea is to start with one thing then, once you have it established as a habit, add another, and another.
In this way, the good habits start to accumulate, as do the benefits perceived…
Bene! That’s me done.
Hope I’ve given you some ideas.
A lunedì, allora.