“It’s easy for you. You live in Italy! But where can I find native speakers to practise speaking with?”
Actually it wasn’t easy for me, despite living in Italy. For most of my time here, I’ve spoken English at home and English at work, and that had three consequences:
1.) I have three bilingual children. They’re bilingual because my Italian wife and I always spoke English together, and I spoke English to them individually, THEIR WHOLE LIVES.
2.) I was able to pay the mortgage and put food on the table as, until a few weeks ago, I earned my living teaching Italians English.
3.) It took years, actually decades, for me to learn Italian. And badly at that.
“Oh but when you went out with your Italian friends, you could chat with them and…”
YOU try moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, where you start knowing no one, where the employment market is biased towards the locals. Have three babies there. Then see how much time you have for making friends with the locals!
I totally sympathise with migrants who never master the language of the country they now live in (though their children do, because of their parents’ sacrifice). I own an Italian language school, and STILL don’t have time to take Italian courses.
But what I write here is only peripherally based on my experiences learning Italian, which happend mostly as a result of reading cheap detective novels translated from English (because the imported English-language originals were too costly in Italian bookshops).
Instead I write about my experiences as a language teacher, which are extensive, and also about more recent adventures ‘teaching myself’ other languages, such as Swedish.
It’s easy for you. You live in Italy!”
Ah yes, it’s easy for me, learning Swedish in Italy, where there are very few Swedish people, no courses, and few resources. You got me!
Not easy for me, but that’s fine, as it’s no easier for many of you reading this, I know.
Though I have the advantage of being a teacher, so know well how to proceed, and thus have a ready stream of article ideas.
You don’t have to live in a country to learn the language. I don’t live in Sweden but am learning Swedish just fine, thanks. There’s absolutely nothing to stop you doing what I do, which is spend masses of time listening to the radio in the languages I’m learning, occasionally read the news, and do regular online chats with native speakers (Hej Lars!)
“But I don’t have friends to practise Italian with!”
And if we’re being honest, even if you did have friends to practise Italian with, they’d probably soon get fed up with you.
Or you’d get frustrated at the limitations of what you could say in Italian.
Either way, like teenage romances, it probably won’t last.
The solution is…
Buy yourself some friends!
No, I’m not kidding. The internet is chock full of people who’d be happy to do conversation practise with you, sometimes for very little cash.
Assuming you’re not a monster, and that your new, ‘paid-for’ friend is smart enough to see which side their bread is buttered on, there’s no reason that your half an hour a week (or more often!) shouldn’t be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
I’m not a rich man and, as I explained, I never got around to taking Italian lessons. So learning Italian took me much, much longer than it should have. My bad.
But when I’m learning languages NOW, priority no. 1 is always listening and reading practice, while priority no. 2 is to buy myself some friends to practise with.
Next time I go to Sweden and chat with my wife’s cousins in their own language?
(She’s bilingual Italian/Swedish but never speaks to me in either language, see above.)
They’ll be amazed at my progress!
That’s the idea, anyway.
Which means that if you don’t already have an online teacher to practise with, you can save 20% on the prices here.
And yes, you could probably get someone cheaper. But then you’d have to select your own ‘friends’, which takes some trial and error, and you wouldn’t have our teaching management team on call in case of problems.
Don’t forget to read/listen to Saturday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news. It’s FREE!