Speak Italian Magically!

Relax! You can learn Italian now!

Share your experience to improve with foreign languages!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 8 maggio 2015

Sharing. A very common word in the social media days. Sharing is something that can be done even without using  Facebook too much. How? By having a shared passion, such as the passion for languages ​​- including their learning and teaching. No matter whether it’s one language or more than ten, what is important is to feel passion in what you do, and then share it with others.

While writing what  I have just written,  the words of Christopher McCandless came to my mind.  I heard them in the great movie “INTO THE WILD”:

“Happiness only real when shared”

What I have experienced just a few  days ago is happiness becoming real, and I can sum up this experience in one word. And that word is …



Life stories.




To learn, to teach, to fully experience one or more foreign languages ​​as naturally as possible.

But what  am I  talking about?

Do you know Berlin, the capital of Germany? A city that can impress you with its architectural wonders, its history, and its people. Whether you can imagine it or not, you should know that a few days ago Berlin was the place where a special meeting took place: for four days, about 350 among “polyglots”, language lovers, and enlightened entrepreneurs joyfully shared  their ideas , their activities, and  their life stories.

The ones that you will be able to see below are just some of the special people who got together at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin in the first four days of May 2015 … In Lindsay Dow’s video below, you can get to see the first day’s highlights.


Although I will not mention all of them, you should know that all the people - from the organizers to the last of the participants - even those with whom I spoke very little - have a special place in my heart.

kyeonghunAmong them there was Kyeonghun Son, who came all the way from Korea. Along with other people, whose name I can’t unfortunately remember of, he sat down to chat with me (in English) at dinner and taught me how to present myself in Korean (and I let him learn how to do it in Italian)… I will always remember with pleasure the good and brisk walk around Berlin that we had after lunch one day, and the great feedback he gave me for my lecture… Oh yes, because I  was in Berlin  also to present something I care a lot about and  you can read about later in this post.

irinaThere was Irina Pravet who shared  with us her story and her insights  about her transition from Canada to Finland. She told us how  her way of being (sociable and spontaneous) had changed when she began to live in Finland and speak Finnish. She shared with us  how she went through a period of great distress, and the steps she went through to recover and find herself again. This is my mind map of her lecture - really exciting and touching at the same time!


Among other things, Irina brought me and Claudio to visit a beautiful and “secret” garden near the hotel where the conference was taking place.


Who is Claudio?


Claudio Sartori is a nice and charismatic Italian guy, currently living in Lithuania, who has come up with a special idea to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in language learning: that is finding relevant, fun, and at-the-right-level (+1) content  to read and listen to.  He managed to create a key resource for those who want to read, listen, watch a lot of interesting content without experiencing the frustration of not understanding anything at all. How? In this video you can find out how BLIU BLIU works.


Many people were curious to know about the origin of the name - BLIU BLIU… The story is more or less like this. Claudio had tried (like many others) to learn English without success for many years, then, recommended by a friend, he started to watch the episodes of FRIENDS - The famous tv series - again and again… and then, one day, he found out that he could finally speak English, better and better. In one of the episodes, there  was Joey needing to speak French although he didn’t have any clue about how to speak that language. Well, Joey began to”speak” in a very self-confident way something that did not  not sound French at all (and among other incomprehensible expressions, he said someghing sounding like BLIU BLIU), and then Claudio thought that sometimes being confident can play a key role in the way we are perceived by others and in our language learning path.

By the way, Claudio is looking for more authentic material in any language… so whatever your native language is, if you want to help him, record a little video and send it to him via email to claudio at bliubliu.com (sharing your video - or audio - with him, you will help many others to learn your language).

Among the others, there was also Alberto Arrighini, the nice Italian guy from Italiano Automatico, always very nice and more and more muscular (and surprisingly very tall): he made me laugh a lot (because he says he likes my laughter) and I was also involved in some interesting videos that he will publish on his channel as soon as possible.  Here’s a nice picture with  Gloria, a joyful lady from Catalonia.


Every person present at the Polyglot Gathering shared a part of themselves, with the aim to let the community grow and be empowered (in the most positive sense of the word). It’s a community of people -normal and special at the same time - who sometimes love to meet in person also to take stock of the situation.

And I? Why was I there? I know I am not a polyglot (have you read the page about me?), But I share with all of these people the passion for languages ​​and cultures. So I decided to go to Berlin to talk about something I really care about and  that, along with many other things, I love to use with many of my students: guided imagery for language learning. Visualizations are for me one of the many interesting things (including: reading, listening, speaking, have fun with the language) that can be used to reach - step after step - the goal of speaking a foreign language very well (and enjoy the process too!).

guided imagery in language learning

I decided from the very first moment to talk about that topic in English, although I was feeling  again a bit rusty with this wonderful language, common to many. It was a challenge for me, a way to get out of my comfort zone. Despite my human imperfections, I am happy for how it went and how people embraced it.

I remember with pleasure Kyeonghun Sons feedback: he told me that he felt as if I was sharing my energy with the audience… and I was very happy to hear it, because as I told him, I was feeling in a state of flow while guiding the people in front of me in a pleasant state of relaxation in which they could imagined being able to speak their target language very well! I felt - with all my being - the feelings that the words coming out of my mouth aroused.

I had to laugh a lot instead with Dimity’s comment: he joked about the fact that at that time (9 am) many people who had not slept much the night before (because of the nightlife in Berlin) were happy to go back to sleep and snore during the relaxation, guided by the sound of my voice.

There was a gentleman I can’t remember the name of, who told me he imagined a beautiful and positive scene in which he was sitting with other people in an office in the company he was working in and he felt great for being able to speak Dutch very well.

There was also Leslie who told me how easy it was for her to imagine the suggested situations, feeling wonderfully well at the end.

I thank these people for the feedback they have given me and I will add a couple of things before concluding this long post.

1) I remember that in the Q & A phase of the lecture I was asked if what I had just done was “ALPI” and I replied that I did not know about this field. Thinking again about it, probably I  didn’t hear well  and the person who asked me the question was thinking about NLP (PNL in Italian). Well, NLP also has a technique called Future Pace where you can ask the client to imagine being in a context that in the past would have triggered a problematic behavior. I think that the technique used during the lecture is more complete and can also be used in the ways that I mentioned toward the end (by the way, you will be able to watch my lecture, as soon as the video recording will be edited).

2) A concept about I could have also talked about during the lecture was state dependent learning. I think that I have already mentioned it in a few posts on this blog and  maybe I will talk about it again in the future.

Before concluding I would share a final thought with you who are reading, because …

You can also learn a lot by sharing what you know, discovering, and enriching yourself in the process.

Relax and enjoy the journey!


P.s.: if you feel like it, you can read about this experience in Italian!

P.s.2: if you liked this long post, share it as much as you like it!

Pubblicato in inspirational | Tagged: , , | Nessun commento »

Is Using a stick better than using a carrot to learn Italian?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 16 marzo 2015

Imagine for a moment you had a teacher who uses a stick to teach… I know that this kind of teacher is anachronistic and that he wouldn’t last for long nowadays (he would be probably reported at the first opportunity), but imagine you had a teacher making you feel bad for not being able to learn his subject, insulting you and letting you feel hate against him and the subject… Imagine now that he is an Italian teacher, one of the teachers who still makes lessons of only grammar, grammar, grammar. Pretend that he even wants you to learn only with his method.

Have you done it? Have you imagined this kind of teacher? Now, do you think you would still be motivated in learning Italian or any other thing this imaginary teacher is trying to teach you in such a bad way?

Answer the last question and then use your imagination to “create” a a teacher who is really interested in your success, someone who puts you at the center of the learning process, someone who makes you feel at ease, someone who teaches you how to learn the foreign language and to rediscover the pleasure and the ability to learn on your own.

Between the two imaginary teachers, Which one do you prefer?

Keep in mind that the second teacher is not the kind of teacher who just praises you for the sake of praising. He gives you feedback… He can give you feedback the sandwich way; in other words he would be telling you what he liked about what you did (the bread), telling you what you should be improving (the ham), and finally giving you an overall assessment of your performance (some more bread). This teacher may, if you prefer, give you straight feedback (it depends on you). Or he can even use another way of giving you feedback, that is: telling you what he liked and what you should improve (he would tell you something like: “ecco quello che mi è piaciuto ed ecco quello che dovresti migliorare”). This second teacher would propose you new ways of learning, such as guided imagery, brain gym, shadowing, unusual and fun exercises, he may even use comics books (he has done it for ages), and it’s fun to be with him.

You may be thinking: come on, there’s no such a teacher! Maybe, but keep on playing with  me and you’ll find out where I want to get at.

I’ll repeat the question I asked you before, but asking it in a different way.

With which of the two teacher do you think you will learn a foreign language in a more effective way?

teachers to speak italian magically

I’ll tell you what I think: the first kind of teacher doesn’t do anything but increasing the affective filter of which Stephen Krashen, the famous linguist, talked about:

“The best situations for language acquisition seem to be those which encourage lower anxiety levels”

which in Italian could be translated as follows:

“Le situazioni migliori per l’acquisizione di una lingua sembrano essere quelle che incoraggiano bassi livelli di ansia”

In the light of the latest research this theory has been confirmed by the fact that, when a situation is perceived as stressful or generating anxiety, it activates the fight or flight system. When one’s nervous or stressed, he or she enters in the condition of “combatti o fuggi” that can happen when a lion is running toward us. The possible reactions in this circumstance are two: or we are so strong and bold to fight against the lion (fight), or we are so quick to to run away (flight). Surely it’s not the best situation to learn (consciously) or acquire (unconsciously) a foreign language, don’t you think? Learning and acquiring a language are two sides of learning that can be fun, it’s not about a lion wanting to tear you to pieces or a teacher scaring you! So, I strongly advise you to avoid the fist kind of teacher I wrote about like the plague, if you really want to reach your goal of speaking Italian very well!

As I write this article a story comes to my mind. It’s a story that I listened to somewhere and I’d love to retell you in a different way…

There was this teacher who managed to teach in a whole form, communicating at several levels and he had this student of him, who had been his apprentice for several years. The student couldn’t afford to pay for the lessons, but the teacher was happy to help him out giving him free lessons, letting him spend time with him, to absorb the skills that he had mastered so well.

One day, he even gave the student a gift: the handbook of the masterful teacher, to let him know that the time to separate had come. The student thanked him and accepted the wonderful gift. At that point the teacher asked: “How are you going to repay me? The student stammered: he didn’t know what to say… And the teacher began telling him a story: his own story.

He was a young boy who had health issues, couldn’t work manually, and couldn’t even pay for his studies. So he went and asked help from a wealthy relative of his. His aunt was eager to help him. She paid for his studies with a great teacher and he managed to learn everything he could learn. After doing it, he got back to his aunt to thank her and let her know about his success. The aunt asked him this question:”How are you going to repay me?” He stammered like the student did, but then his aunt told him: You can either repay me with money or… you can became a great teacher!”

The teacher, with a moving tear, chose the second option.

I don’t know why this story came to my mind, what I know is that I also, like the main characters of this story, chose the second option, knowing that this means that I will keep enjoying  a process of constant improvement, day after day, knowing that there are things of my acting as a teacher of Italian for foreigner that I can and want to improve, moving daily toward the direction of the second kind of teacher I talked about today.

I am telling you this because I am really convinced that anyone who is in the teaching position, whether they are coaches, doctors, or humble “teachers”, should enrich and empower all the people they meet during their lives. And this is worth for all people we meet, even through the pages of a blog, letting them feel better and.. so, it’s important that you who are reading me, feel better and more responsible of what you are or aren’t able to do, trusting that if you apply yourself constantly, you’ll succeed, taking a step at a time!

Good, you have read all the article! Thanks for doing it, but, now, “How are you going to repay me?”

Perhaps you are smiling now, or you are stammering like the characters in the story I told you. In any case, know that you can repay me in two ways: you can either repay me with money, or… you can become better and better in what you do, even Italian!


P.s.: this is an adaptation of a former article of mine, published in Italian here. Enjoy!

Pubblicato in inspirational | Tagged: , , | Nessun commento »

What has Siddharta to do with the learning of Italian?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 8 novembre 2014

“You know, my dear, that I already as a young man, in those days when we lived with the penitents in the forest, started to distrust teachers and teachings and to turn my back to them. I have stuck with this. Nevertheless, I have had many teachers since then. A beautiful courtesan has been my teacher for a long time, and a rich merchant was my teacher, and some gamblers with dice. Once, even a follower of Buddha, travelling on foot, has been my teacher (…)”

Which in Italian has been translated as follows:

“Tu sai, amico, che già da giovane, allora, quando vivevamo tra gli asceti del bosco, io ero pervenuto a diffidare delle dottrine e dei maestri e ad allontanarmi da loro. Sono rimasto allo stesso punto. Tuttavia ho avuto dopo d’allora molti maestri. Una bella cortigiana è stata per lungo tempo mia maestra, e un ricco mercante fu mio maestro, nonché alcuni giocatori d’azzardo. Una volta anche un discepolo del Buddha in pellegrinaggio fu mio maestro (…)”

Hermann Hesse

A little time ago I finished reading aloud the book (where from the previous excerpt was taken) to my wife… Yes, I admit it: I read books aloud to my wife! I consider it, along all other things I do with her, something pleasant that I share with the person I love, and besides - depending on the books we read - it makes both of us grow and improve.

Exactly this excerpt inspired me write what follows and you can read it till the end to find out what Siddhartha and the Italian language may have in common. Do you know the Siddhartha’s story? If so, good; if not, relax, by reading till the end you’ll manage to understand where I want to get at!;-)

As you may know, if you follow this blog, sometimes I get passionate about something and I want to learn it, many times on my own, some other times (less, actually) with a live course. And I try and learn from the best (or at least the ones I believe are the best!), just like I suggest you do in the book Risveglia il tuo italiano! Sometimes I manage to single the best teachers out, sometimes I don’t, but even when I am wrong (and it happens!) the question I ask myself is: what’s there that, despite everything, can be useful for me to learn from this person and situation?

You should know that - perhaps it depends on the mind maps that I love doing - I love seeing things from different perspectives and get my own conclusions, keeping in mind one of the values that for me are fundamental.

My goal - in my small way and with due proportion - has always been to empower people, to make them self reliant… After all we know that it’s better teach someone to fish, instead of giving him a fish. It’s better that you learn how to learn on your own, instead of depending on someone else, isn’t it? What do you think about what I’ve just written? (Let me know on the Facebook page or on the Google+ page if you want and it’s a pleasure for you!)

I’ve already written and in all possible ways that you can acquire Italian on your own, also by keeping in consideration the social side of all this: language is a means to communicate with other people! So, after learning it, after training yourself mentally to use it, just… use italian and enjoy!

When I find someone sharing this same value (that of empowering people!) I am happy, especially if this person is up to date with
the latest research in neuroscience (the person you are about to read below is also author, along with Shawn Carson, of the book “Keeping the brain in mind”, of which I talked about in a previous post of mine).

Lately this thing has happened a few times…

It happened once with Melissa Tiers, as I am attending the course “Coaching the Unconscious Mind” and, to integrate/absorb/remember the content of it, I am using Tony Buzan’s Mind Maps. The course is in English and this allows me to keep my English in shape, as well as to improve it, while attending something that’s really interesting for me!


The same thing happened with another wonderful course (also in English!) where two great university professors (Dr. Barbara Oakley e Dr. Terrence Sejnowski) taught me again to learn how to learn (the title of the course was right “learning how to learn“). The course was free, but it was really worth a lot, because it taught how to… fish;-), uhm… to become self-reliant while studying an learning and everything was sparkled with humor and a pinch of neuroscience.

I love saying “knowledge is power and can also be fun if you know how to learn” (“la conoscenza è potere e può essere anche divertente se sai come imparare“), but I have to admit that acting upon what you learn is much better! So, I advise you, who are reading this page, what follows: learn and act!

Now, there’s a very simple technique that Melissa Tiers teaches and suggests that you use it also as a pattern interrupt, when you have bad habits you want to change, cravings, or even in the case of anxiety (she’s the author of the booklet “The Anti-anxiety Toolkit) and she calls this technique bilateral stimulation… A very simple action that allows you to activate both your brain hemispheres - and you can see her with your own eyes as she shows you how you can practice it, unfortunately in English and not in Italian!

The youtube link is: http://youtu.be/3Sy9YGeNjCI

From the big picture I have on several subjects, it seems to me bilateral stimulation is based - more or less - on the same principles other exercises are based: such as Brain Gym (More here: http://goo.gl/vYIeTR ) , or another ancient exercise called Super Brain Yoga (http://goo.gl/9C8Srl). The main difference is that bilateral stimulation is used by Melissa as a way to stop an urge, Brain Gym and Super brain Yoga may be used in a generative way (I mean: content free and toward your real potential).

When I find something interesting and useful, even if a bit weird, I love experimenting it on my own! I did it, so perhaps you can do it too and notice the differences between times when you practice these exercises before speaking Italian and times when you don’t.

You may be thinking that all these exercises aren’t helpful at all, that they are rubbish, that they are based on suggestion, but anyway… does it really matter? If these exercises work for you, very good! If they don’t, then you can laugh because you practiced them… And we all known that laughing is good! ;-)

So, remember that you can learn Italian - and many other things! - from a lot of people (speaking Italian, of course) and from everything that surrounds you, by experiencing it, because, by saying it Siddhartha’s way, wisdom can’t be transferred…And at the same way, you can have all teachers you want to improve your Italian, but no one can do it for you. It’s you the one who can act constantly and relentlessly toward your goal of speaking Italian very well, also by relaxing while enjoying your journey.

You can have all teachers you want so that you too can grow and discover what Siddhartha found out;-)

Relax and enjoy the journey!


P.s.: I adapted this article from a former article of mine in Italian… You can read it from here: http://goo.gl/i9qFZO

Pubblicato in inspirational | Tagged: , , | Nessun commento »

Was there a need for another book to speak Italian better and better?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 16 ottobre 2014

libri-640.JPGWas there a need for me to write another book to help you acquire the Italian language? Why am I asking myself and you this question? And why am I saying “was there a need” and not “is there a need”?

Because I did it again! I wrote another book about this subject, a subject that is accompanying my life since 2003, when - without any preparation - I gave my first Italian lesson to Kathryn, an American student. Since that moment, I started a path of discoveries and findings, that from time to time led me to put  in writing what I had learned.

This time I started where I had left in the book “The secrets of the Italian Language”… Not exactly, because it was for me a good opportunity to systematize and “express” my discoveries and experiences in written (and audio) format. So, I started again from motivation, not because I am able to motivate you to speak Italian very well, but because I really think that you need to be really motivated from the inside to keep on improving with this wonderful language - Italian!

So, I took (almost) everything that I know and I put it in the first part of the new book. What’s the title of the book? I wanted to title it “Gli altri segreti della lingua italiana per stranieri - The other secrets of the Italian language”, but the Englishwoman -  grazie Alison! - who revised the English part of it, told me that “More secrets of the Italian language” would sound much better. And I followed her advice.

In the second part of the book you are going to find practical lessons to help you absorb Italian with your whole brain. I am going to use two methods to help you do that. The first one is the TPR method. Basically I’ll tell you to take some actions and you are supposed to act them out. Why? Because if you use your body while listening to Italian, you’ll internalize and really absorb it. And then I’ll help you speak wit the TPRS method (Teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling). With this method I’ll tell you some stories from several points of view so that you’ll internalize grammar as well. And in the bonus page of the book you’ll find a lot of easy questions (in audio format) about these stories and you are supposed to answer these questions as fast as you can so that through repetitions you’ll automatize the answers and speaking Italian very well will became for you automatic . Then I’ll tell you about shadowing as well and the three ways I suggest you practice it.

In the third part I’ll be very explicit about 4 grammar points that I haven’t written about in the first volume of the series… I’ll tell you about the differences between imperfetto and passato prossimo so that you finally manage to absorb the proper use of them… I’ll tell you about the imperative mood and how to use it; and then the similarities between futuro and condizionale as far as their structure is concerned.

Last but not least you will find what I call la ciliegina sulla torta (the icing on the cake- in Italian we say the cherry on the cake) . What on earth could this be?

Throughout the book you will also listen to a long story   and the story is there for a reason: so that you’ll get a very important message and the message is… well… I’ll tell you just one part of this message… maybe in the video, or just right after it ;-)

[ Video Link: http://youtu.be/a8ksgiQqxV4 ]

You can speak Italian better and better and my goal is to help you realize that!

So, Was there a need for me to write another book to help you acquire the Italian language?

I’ll let you judge that on your own, perhaps by writing your own review on the website you’ll purchase it. I’ll be honored and grateful to read that.

On my side I can say that I have put 11 years of learning and teaching experience in this book. If you are following me through my blog you may know already some of the ideas that you’ll find there… but updated to what I think learning the Italian language should be nowadays.  I’ll just have to express my concluding thoughts before letting you you check some preview files of my latest book (the last one?)…

I wish you all the best in your learning path of the Italian language and anything else you are going to learn in your life because learning is wonderful. Learning, using, and acting upon what you learn is something really enjoyable, fun, wonderful because it’ll help you grow as a person and achieve all the things you are supposed to achieve in your life. So, Relax and enjoy your journey!

Now, you can preview the following free resources from the book:

 ipodhorizontal_600x400.png***Multimedia preview: get inside the book!

*** Podcast: with weekly readings from the book! 

*** Maps and drawings from the book!


Buon divertimento!


P.s.: Gli altri segreti della lingua italiana - More secrets of the Italian language is already available on most online bookstores... There are three versions: full color paperback edition, black and white paperback edition, and eBook edition. The first two options will let you get into a parallel reading experience. The eBook version will let you have a sequential reading experience - to keep compatibility with most reading devices.

P.s. 2: Share this article as much as you like it! Grazie mille!!!

P.s.3: If you think you won’t use it, please don’t buy it!!!!

Pubblicato in Promotional | Tagged: , , , , | Nessun commento »

If you think you can’t do it, hold on a moment, then do something else to improve your Italian!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 30 giugno 2014

Would you like to stop the negative messages that sometimes pop in your mind?
And what about the possibility to overcome a bad habit as you improve your Italian? Would you like it?

I hope so, because you will be able to find out some very interesting things just by reading this page till the end;-)

It may have occurred also to you to learn Italian and reach a point when, despite your efforts in reading, practicing and listening to the language, it looks like you “have reached a dead spot”. To say that, experts use the expression:” to hit plateau”…

And perhaps despite the fact that you have lately kept on doing something for your Italian, you may start telling yourself: “I’m really not improving at all”, or “Today I don’t feel like doing anything with Italian, I am not improving at all anyway…”

If this has happened to you, know that the negative sentences that may pop in your mind are normal and Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz has named them “deceptive brain messages”….

Let me give you some background about this doctor and how his research may help you improve your Italian today

Dr. Schwartz has created a protocol without medicines that can be helpful to people suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)… It’s those people compulsively repeating an action… perhaps they want to wash their hands every two minutes, or - nowadays - compulsively check their  email or Facebook account…

I don’t know if you have watched the movie titled “The Aviator”: in that movie Leonardo Di Caprio plays a character with that  “discomfort”… Dr. Schwartz was Di Caprio’s coach during the movie shootings. In my web browsing I was attracted by this video where dr. Schwartz talks about it in English (unfortunately without Italian subtitles):


If you aren’t able to watch or understand it well, I would like to point out an interesting piece of information: the mind can change the brain so that Leonardo di Caprio has immersed himself so much in the role that three months after shooting the movie he still behaved like an OCD sufferer. It took him several months to recover. This implies that the mind  can have a powerful effect on the brain and tha any good actor enters so much in the role to change his brain!

This information also has some very positive implication, as Dr. Schwartz fully demonstrates.

As I am not a medical doctor, I’ll leave you with the task, if you wish so, to deepen your knowledge on the subject, perhaps by reading the book “You’re not your Brain“, by Dr. Schwartz, that of course (ironic:-) hasn’t been translated into Italian yet.

If you are a trainer and you are keen on knowing how to teach better and at a deep level, then you could also read this other book, titled “Keeping the brain in Mind“, by Melissa Tiers and Shawn Carson that I’ve just finished reading and that, among many other things, summarizes Dr. Schwartz’s protocol.

In any case, what I’d like to point out to you is that bad thoughts that may pop in your mind when you can’t see you are getting near the goal, the “deceptive brain messages” are ““any false . . . thought or unhelpful impulse . . . that takes you away from your true goals . . . i.e., your true self.” (quoting the book Keeping the brain in mind).

Now, despite the fact that you may (or not) get these false thoughts, you have to know that probably if there would be a way to verify  if - by doing the right things - your brain is progressing - and there is a way to do that! - you may realize that in reality your brain is doing it even if it apparently looks like nothing happens (and forgive my twisted sentence;-)!

In fact, people who followed Dr. Schwartz protocol didn’t realize they were improving, but their brain scans showed they were doing it and, by keeping on applying the protocol, at the end of the 12-week period their brain structure had changed and so had their “problem”….

But this is a blog to Speak Italian Magically, so here you have any deceptive messages you could get in your path toward Italian mastery:

I’m not good enough. Non sono bravo abbastanza.
There’s something wrong with me.
C’è qualcosa di storto in me.
I don’t deserve to be happy and speak Italian very well.
Non mi merito di essere felice e parlare l’italiano molto bene.
My wishes or goals are unrealistic or unattainable.
I miei desideri od obiettivi sono irrealistici e inottenibili…
I always do the same mistakes!
Faccio sempre gli stessi errori!

What can you do to interrupt the pattern and focus on something more productive, getting nearer and nearer your goal of speaking Italian better and better?

What follows are the 4 steps of Dr. Schwartz’s Protocol adapted to the specific case of learning the Italian language:

1) Relabel (Rietichetta).

When you have these negative thoughts, simply stop and mentally acknowledge that you are having them… You can tell yourself: “I am having those negative thoughts again…”

2) Reframe (Reincornicia)

At this point you can continue the sentence by telling yourself “… but it’s not me… it’s just my brain!” By telling something like that you are just dissociating from those sentences. It’s not you who’s not good at learning and speaking Italian very well, but it’s your brain that is sending you false messages:-)

3) Refocus (Redirigi la tua attenzione)

After the first two phases, the piece of advice is to do something useful and productive. What can you do that may get you nearer your goal of speaking Italian very well? Perhaps you could listen to an audio from Speak Italian Magically or Awaken your Italian, or anything else in Italian, why not? I’d suggest you listen to the episode titled “When you are at your best!” Or you can watch a TV show in Italian (your favorite one)… or even carefully listen to an Italian song! The choice is infinite, as long as you do something that makes you feel good while absorbing and improving your Italian! (Because if you associate pleasure with Italian learning  then you’ll learn it much faster!)

4) Revalue (Rivaluta)

If you have followed this protocol for a while, then you could revalue what you have done so far… And you could verify something like: ” That false message wasn’t doing anything for me, but look at all the beautiful things I have learned and how good I am becoming with Italian day after day!;-)”


The moral of all this is that if someone tells you - or you are doing it yourself - that it’s very difficult to change, or that learning Italian is not easy, please DON’T believe it, first of all because you can apply Dr. Schwartz’s protocol and second because “all we are is change;-)” and you may even realize that you have changed, becoming a different person since when you started reading this article a few minutes ago…

What do you think? ;-)

If you liked this article, please share it with anyone you love!

- Antonio

P.s.: Now you could read my article in Italian about what I call “il ma positivo

P.s.2: This article is an adaptation of an Italian article I wrote and published here: http://tinyurl.com/kkt8hlv !

Pubblicato in inspirational | Tagged: , , , , | Nessun commento »

Can you learn Italian with FUMETTI? ;-)

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 14 maggio 2014

You may be one of those people who believes that to learn a language you absolutely need books that teach you either  grammar, or the proper way of speaking the language… or you may be not! I can’t know whether you are one of those people or not because you are on the other side of what I am writing right now: you are reading it. But, just for a moment, imagine that you could acquire the language, by doing something that - by doing it - will let you have fun and don’t ever think that you are “working” to learn. Are you interested in this? I don’t know if you are. What I do know is that…


Today I’d like to tell you a story of a boy who loved to read comic books so much that he was sometimes immersed in them… He started like most of us with Topolino (Mickey Mouse), Paperino (Donald Duck) and company…then he moved into l’Uomo Ragno (Spiderman), Superman and superhero comics…passing through Bonelli comics (Dylan Dog, Zagor, Martin Mystère, etc)… It was another world that for the duration of the “fumetto” allowed him to suspend disbelief, expand his fantasy and enjoy the time he spent like that . There were no computers (or at least he didn’t own one at that time),  tv was not so entertaining…but comic books were. Although in some periods of his life he stopped reading comics, from time to time he got back there in that fantasy world that allowed him to temporarily escape from the ordinary world and fly with fantasy. A thing that the boy didn’t know was that through those comic boos he learned a lot… He learned how to spell words, he learned new vocabulary, he learned so much (also) through them, that he became the man that he is today… He also learned to read them in another language…and enjoyed understanding them in a language that wasn’t his own mother tongue… By the time he managed to read comic books in a foreign language he was 26; after all he started learning that foreign language when he was 24…

Well… That grown up boy still enjoys reading comics… not so many like in the past… Sometimes he likes reading some comic books for mature readers (such as “Y the last man“), sometimes he reads Smarter Comics (http://www.smartercomics.com/), such as Think and Grow rich (by Napoleon Hill) or Influence (by  Robert Cialdini)…. And other times he likes reading il Grande Diabolik (the criminal hero that we have here in Italy and that many of my advanced students know;-)… Recently he rediscovered Zagor, a comic book that a cousin of his (ciao Aurelio!) introduced him to about 30 years ago (well… he is 38 years young now!)… and thanks to the “Collezione Storica a colori” he is reading Zagor again.


But why am I telling you this story and why am I talking about comics today?

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that comics, especially the ones that have an audio adaptation can be used to learn a language.

When about 10 years ago I started using one of my passions to teach Italian in the school I was teaching, the director asked me:” What? You are teaching Italian through comic books? Is that even possible?”

I told him: “Look at the results”… By the time the story in the comic book was over, I had asked the students so many questions (in Italian!)…They had answered them (in Italian!)… They had retold me the story…. and they had enjoyed their time just by listening  and reading a nice and compelling story! I proceeded in this order: I let them listen first, ask questions, let them answer (of course! ;-), then listen while reading and looking at the pictures, ask other questions or let them retell me the story…

After so many years that  I’ve ALSO  been using this approach to let my students improve they listening and speaking skills, I am happy to tell you that Alma Edizioni has recently published some comic books with multimedia video (or audio if you close your eyes and just listen!)… And they are graded  according to your level!

Here you have a preview of one of them:

Habemus Papam TRAILER from Alma Edizioni on Vimeo.

I also watched a video that some Japanese students have created with  their own adaptation of the Alma Edizioni fumetti… To do that, they had to read, listen, understand and express themselves in Italian… By doing this, they had a lot of exposure to comprehensible input…

And if you still think that comic books cannot be used to learn a language, you may have forgotten what I wrote about Stephen Krashen in this article… (in Italian: http://tinyurl.com/l3p9jvm ) Do you remember what he told about the word bouillabaisse in his “The power or reading”?

To end this article I just have to tell you that, if you haven’t realized it yet, I am the boy of the story I told you a few lines before…

I still read comics… in my own language and in English… And I learn a lot, while having fun! And you? Why don’t you do it? ;-)


Pubblicato in The course | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Commento »

Leave for your Hero’s Journey and Awaken your Italian!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 19 aprile 2014

“Nella caverna dove hai paura di entrare si trova il tesoro che stai cercando”.
“In the cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek.

- Joseph Campbell

What’s the symbolic cave you are afraid to enter? Before you answer this question I could tell you a story… Perhaps I could begin with “C’era una volta… un eroe” (”Once upon a time, there was a hero“), but I prefer, if you let me do it and read me till the end, to change the protagonist of the story and tell you that…

Some day you could wake up and after doing all the things that you normally  do every day, something happens, something that can change your life… Perhaps it could be - to stay on the positive side - that for a reason or another you have to leave on a journey (and a trip) to Italy, or you receive a wonderful job offer and you have to perfectly speak Italian to take the job… But you may not speak it so perfectly yet, or at all…

So, what will you do? Will you fight or flight? Perhaps it’s a one-time opportunity and it’s really almost like a call to adventure. Will you decline the call, staying the way you are? Or will you accept it, by facing the challenge.  And how can you face it? Perhaps a good Italian speaking friend of yours may help you, or you could attend an Italian school or use a multimedia course…
Remember that if you’ll decline the call to adventure you could have some regrets… such as the regret of not living a different life, perhaps your dream life… So, after thinking  the right amount of time about it, you may accept the challenge and you’ll get ready to cross the threshold, to leave your ordinary life and begin either your journey, or your new job in which you speak Italian very well.

On this journey you’ll possibly meet some bad teachers, but also some good teachers… It’ll be up to you to tell the good from the bad and realize that you can meet someone who would like to let you use only the rational side of your mind… and this will apparently be the easiest path to follow - or you can meet someone inviting you to use your whole brain - not only the rational side, but also the creative and emotional side… In your path toward the mastery of Italian you may meet some “magic allies” that will help you get your goal faster. These allies may be good teachers, mentors or just supporters, people who will help you Awaken your Italian or Speak Italian magically :-) [after all you are on the Speak Italian Magically blog;-)]
It’s also true that you may also meet some demons who will try with every possible trick to slow you down or even to stop you and let you get back to square one… And sometimes those demons will be your inner demons… because, as a dear friend of mine (Raul, who’s improving at Italian day after day)  says, “You can be your worst enemy”. And then you’ll need to have the strength to defeat those (symbolic) dragons and demons that you may meet on your path… the path toward the so wished mastery of the Italian language and consequently your journey to Italy, your new job, your dream, etc., or any other thing you wish for during this time of your life.

In any case, after reaching your goal, you will have obtained a transformation because by developing your inner resources you will be able to efficiently face any new challenge you will encounter in the future.
And finally you could begin the final phase of your path: almost like coming back home. In other words, you could share with others what you have discovered, accomplished and learned… And you would have experienced what Joseph Cambpell codified as the Hero’s Journey… That I have mind mapped here below:

Recently I have watched the following video (it’s in English, but you can watch it with Italian subtitles if you feel like!), where the author, Matthew Winkler, briefly and brilliantly  explains what the Hero’s Journey is about.

And the conclusion is that: all of us - me, you and anyone else - are living our hero’s journey through the symbolic stories of our lives. Leaving our comfort zone, we daily live experiences that transform us, and the beauty of it is that after doing it, perhaps we recover for a while and then we’ll start all over again! And it isn’t that we need to slay dragons or fight Voldemort (from the Harry Potter’s saga), we just face problems just as scary - at least from our point of view.

So, accept the challenge, begin your journey, claim your treasure… and please do remember what I love to say: Relax and enjoy the journey!


P.s. 1.: A wonderful documentary film about the hero’s Journey is “Finding Joe” by Pat Solomon (I don’t think it has been adapted in Italian yet:-( . I really advise you to watch it! Ne vale davvero la pena! (It’s really worth it!)

P.s. 2:  My friend Conor has asked me a question about shadowing and I answered here, also on a video with Italian subtitles:  http://tinyurl.com/languagetsar

P.s. 3: This article is an adaptation of a former article that I wrote a couple of days ago in Italian and you can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/viaggio-eroe 

Pubblicato in inspirational | Tagged: , | Nessun commento »

If someone speaks Italian better than you, how can you react?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 29 ottobre 2013

What’s your reaction when you find someone who does something better than you? How do you react? Do you get depressed? Or do you look for ways to criticize that person and you say for example :”He can do that because he has all the time in the world to do that” or “Hey…he was wrong there, though!” Or you even get verde dall’invidia (green with envy) because he’s good at it and you’re not? Or do you react in any different way?

Surely there’s a better and more productive way to react, instead of the ways I have just described to you.

Moreover, let me tell you, but I think that all of us have been culturally conditioned to believe that we must compete with the others, at all costs… What would the world be like if you competed only with yourself instead? Have you ever wondered?

If it were so, maybe many people wouldn’t find football games  so exciting  and many others would be disappointed… But forget about football for a while (if you can;-) and concentrate on what you are about to read.

Think of any learning, sport or everyday life situation, when you can - or have to - compare yourself with someone else. What happens? How do you behave? Do you try to thwart others? Or do you become fossilized only with some parts of your preparation, so that you overcome only that challenge? Whatever your answer, let me tell you that perhaps it is normal. I don’t believe that many have told us that there’s a better way to behave.


At this point, imagine you are an athlete and you want to win a race that will take place with competitors, that you already know and you also know their strengths and weaknesses. You know for sure (at least you believe so) that the other seven competitors are able to run that distance in 4 minutes, not a second less. And so you concentrate on running the distance in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. The thing that you don’t know is that at least one of the others, let’s call him Giulio, has decided to compete with himself, that means he’s training to improve his times day after day, perhaps of a few fractions of a second a day. And he’s constantly improving. So, when the day of the race comes, you run the distance while concentrating on the goal you had set and you run it in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. But Giulio runs with passion, with joy, caring neither about you, nor about the others and wins the race in 3 minutes and 57 seconds. And even if he hadn’t won that, he would be happy anyway, happy of his improvement, and he would keep on improving day after day. Whereas you would…

I read some time ago about Kurt Hahn, a very influential educator, who created some schools where, among the other principles, there was also that of self competition: “Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best
and with rigorous standards of excellence

The important thing about this concept is that by competing with yourself, if you have a daily little piece of improvement in what you do, you are happy about it! So, if, for example, the day before you knew only 100 words of Italian and today you know 101 of them, you have to be happy about it! If until yesterday using the imperfect correctly was difficult and today it’s  a piece of cake, you have to be happy about it! It doesn’t matter if Giulio (or any other person) is quicker than you in learning Italian or anything else. What matters is that you are improving day after day and… You have to be happy about it. So, you can’t learn a language by transforming the learning journey in a competition against others;  at most you can cooperate with others to reach an even better result, better than what you could have accomplished by yourself.

And if you meet someone who’s better than you in what you want to do, there’s a better way to react, different than what I described at beginning of this article… Perhaps you could combine the concept of self competition with that of learning from person who’s better at it. What does that person do that you could do yourself too? There’s a caveat, though, you don’t have to simply imitate or copy the person who’s better at it, you need to learn what there’s to learn from that person and then continue on your personal path for improvement, with Italian and any other skill you want to learn.

I think that these concepts may be useful whether for anyone who’s learning a foreingn language in a school, or for anyone who’s learning by himself.

For these reasons, when I meet (via the internet or in the real world) some people I can learn from, I am curious to know how they do what they do. One of the people who has positively struck me is Luca Lampariello, the famous Italian polyglot - I talked about him somewhere else. If you don’t know him yet (and perhaps you are one of the few who doesn’t ;-) you have to know that Luca speaks at least 10 languages at a very high level. Now, I don’t have in my next plans to become a hyper-polyglot, but I have been interested in anything related  to learning for a few years, so if Luca reveals his way of learning in detail, I want to learn from him, for me and for whoever learns through me. That’s why I bought his master class, he recently published online. Despite the fact it is in two languages (in English with consecutive translation in Russian) and this can bother a little who understands just one of the two, the pieces of information contained in that are a treasure for anyone who learns  languages, for teaches or  for anyone is into lifelong learning. We have been living a learning revolution in the last few years and we must open ourselves to the possibility to learn in new, different and also pleasantly entertaining ways… And Luca explains how, after the initial time when you have to build a core in the foreing language, you can create your personal learning materials and learn the language through what really interests you, inspires you and its’ fun for you. In the video below you can watch him in action to discover how to learn a foreign langauge: methods and principles.


In the book Unlimited - The new learning revolution and the seven keys to unlock it (that I read as  it was published four years ago) a statement struck me: when you want to learn something by yourself, “Don’t start with academic books. In the area of your interest, find the three best books written by people who’ve done it“. Despite the fact he hasn’t written a book (yet), Luca has done it for sure and thus he is rightfully among the people you want to learn how to learn a foreign language from.

I want to be more precise about the academic world before concluding though. A few days ago I listened  to a speech about multilingualism by dr. Clelia Capua, of the Ca’ Foscari University (part of the wonderful training project “Un mondo d’italiano“) and I have to tell you that something is changing in the academic world too…But this is another story (and maybe I’ll talk about it in another post!)

But now tell me… What would you answer now if I asked you again:

What is your reaction when you find someone doing something better than you? ;-)

Have fun  with Italian and with learning in general!


P.s.: This article is an adaptation of a former article of mine, that I originally wrote in Italian here!

Pubblicato in inspirational | Tagged: , , | Nessun commento »

Change your mind-set to speak better Italian!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 17 settembre 2013

If you are more than 20 years old, what beautiful things were you doing about 20 years ago?

What was the world like 20 years ago?

What did you enjoy doing the most that time of your life?

Take a bit of time and remember some good memories of that time and, as you do it, take mentally note of the feelings that you feel while thinking about it. You may perhaps want to think about your typical day in that time of your life. Why do I ask you these questions? You’ll discover it only by reading this article till the end;-)

It’s been a while since I wrote my last article, I know, but summer is a time that I devote to other activities (unfortunately or fortunately not to holidays). During the month of August I am busy preparing breakfast and making people feel at home (even if they are indeed at my home;-): all people who decide to come and visit and to spend their sea and swimming holidays between Tropea and Capo Vaticano. That’s why the time that I have to write and read is little, but there’s a moment, the moment that I call “the sacred moment“, when I have the chance to read or listen to what I really like. And do you know what this moment is? When I’ve just finished preparing breakfast (imagine the smell of just baked cornetti;-) and I wait for people to come and eat and chat with them. I think it’s important for me to precise it: when my guests come for breakfast I am really happy to give them my full attention. As I read last year for the first time in a bar in Morano Calabro:


“Il cliente è il più importante visitatore dei nostri locali [in the picture it's written "delle nostre assunzioni", but, in my opinion, "dei nostri locali" is the right Italian expression], colui che non è dipendente da noi. Invece noi dipendiamo da lui. Lui non è un’interruzione nel nostro lavoro. Lui è lo scopo del nostro lavoro. Lui non è un esterno del nostro lavoro. Fa parte di esso. Noi non gli facciamo un favore sevendolo. Lui ci fa un favore dandoci l’opportunità di farlo.”

Which in the original English version is this:

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

The author of this short piece of writing (or saying) that you have just read is Mahatma Gandi.

After closing this little digression, the goal of my writing here today is to tell you that one of the few books I read till the end in my pleasant waiting moment is really good. I had read about it in one of the few blogs that I sometimes follow- Psicologia Neurolinguistica by Gennaro Romagnoli. Getting curious, I looked for the book, but, there was nothing to do, I couldn’t find it: the Italian edition is out of print (no eBook edition either). So I went on with my search and I found it in English. The title is “Counterclockwise“, by Ellen Langer, member of the Psychology department  in Arward. If I believed in it;-), I could say that I was destiny for me to read it in English and so I did.

counterclockwise-antiorario.jpgCounterclockwise is based on an experiment held by the author.

A group of elderly people were brought in a center where everything was letting the place look as if they were 20 years before (everything looked like it was 1959). Besides, even if till that day they were helped in everything, from that day on they wouldn’t be helped, but they were supposed to “work” on their own. As an example, here’s an episode: they had to bring their suitcase to their room…on their own! For anyone who hasn’t read the book, this may look cruel, but instructions given by doctor Langer were indeed clear and human. The elderly people would have all the time they would need to bring their luggage to their room. So, they could have made a step and stop to rest, or make a larger distance and rest. Slowly but constantly they would reach their room with their luggage. This is just an example of what happened that week. The rest, along with many thoughts by the author, you can read in the English edition of the book (given the fact that the Italian edition is out of print, as I have already written).

What do you think happened to this group of elderly people who went 20 years counterclockwise?

They improved a lot, they looked healthier and youthful.

In the author’s words:

ellen-langer-photo.jpg“These improvements were the results of one week spent with a group of strangers. Imagine the possibilities if our culture afforded us a different set of mindsets than we have about old age”.

Which in Italian could be translated more or less like this:

“Questi miglioramenti furono il risultato di una settimana trascorsa con un gruppo di estranei. Immagina le possibilità se la nostra cultura ci permettesse un atteggiamento mentalee diverso rispetto all’avanzare dell’età”.

The author, still respecting the medical profession (and I fully respect
it too: there are times it’s better to go to a doctor instead of acting on your own), manages to explain in a very clear way what the risks of giving labels and following statistics are. I also briefly talked about this inside the section about the science behind Awaken your Italian. Have you already read it? In English or Italian?

While reading Dr. Langer’s opinions, that were very often based on scientific research, a story came back to my mind, a story that I had read some time ago. And without writing any longer, I’ll conclude this article with it. You can find your own conclusions about it and perhaps you can write on the comments below what you think this article has to do with learning Italian ;-)

Two patients, both with the surname Jones and first initial W., were lying next to each other in the pulmonary ward. One had severe pneumonia and a painful cough; he was also an asthma sufferer. The other W. Jones was a chain smoker and had severe bronchitis; he was in hospital because he was coughing up blood and needed to get a bronchoscopy. The asthma patient Jones was diagnosed , after X-rays, with a very progressive and aggressive form of lung cancer; the prognosis was dim: six to nine months. The smoker Jones was told that his symptoms were of severe pneumonia, and he was put on a course of antibiotics and other appropriate medications. When he received the news, he was visibly relieved and his whole physiology changed. He was humming songs and telling jokes to the other patients. He was so happy because when he’d come into hospital he had been certain he had cancer and given up hope; he had come to hospital with the belief that he was going to die. From that day he quit smoking and went back home to his life. The other W. Jones was not so lucky; after having struggled for many years with chronich asthma, he was now diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer and was considered to be at the end of the road. He was terribly depressed and did not speak to anyone anymore. His family tried in vain to ease his despair, but could not change his funeral mood. Three months later this W. Jones passed away. The doctors were proven right once again in their prediction of the future.

However, the story does not end there: some weeks after asthma sufferer W. Jones death, a medical student discovered that there had been a mix-up in the patient files. The surviving W. Jones, the former smoker, was the one who’d had the lung cancer all along. He was called back for another X-ray. To the great surprise of all the doctors there was no trace of lung cancer, except for a small calcification where the tumor had been. This W. Jones was completely cured and symptom-free.

Source for this story: Roy Martina, Emotional balance, Hay house (also available in Italian as: Equilibrio Emozionale, Tecniche nuove)

P.S.: Do you remember that I have already written about beliefs and the placebo and nocebo effects?

P.P.S.: This article is an adaptation of a former article of mine, that I wrote in Italian. Do you want to read it in Italian?

Pubblicato in The science behind learning Italian | Tagged: , , , | Nessun commento »

Train yourself mentally to speak Italian better and better!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com su 26 luglio 2013

If you saw a group of guys staying still, with their eyes closed, and their trainer would tell you that they are intent on imagining
doing free trow shots (those of basketball) in their mind, what would would you think?

Here you have three alternatives:

a) they are all a little nuts;-);

b) they are wasting their time;

c) what they are doing can serve them in some ways so that they improve their ratio of scored free shots.


A few years ago, like you, I’d have also answered either (a) or (b) and perhaps I’d have told you that one thing is imagination and another is reality. And if you have also answered this way, go on reading to find out something more about mental training.

If you already heard about it, you may know what occurred in an experiment held in an American University in the sixties and you  may be curious to read where I want to get at, so go on reading till the end!

The psychologyst R. A. VAndell did an experiment about the effects of mental training in basketball free trow shots. There were three groups of students.

The first group practiced shooting hoops for 20 days.

The second group did no practice for 20 days.

The third group spent 20 minutes a day, imagining they were throwing a ball at the hoop. If they imagined they missed the shot, they imagined correcting the shot. Each group was scored on their first and last days.

And do you want to know what the results of this experiment?

The first  group (that trained physically) improved 24%.

The second group, that did nothing, had no improvement.

The most amazing thing is the third group result. They improved 23%, just for imagining to shoot hoops. [Also Maxwel Maltz speaks about this in his wonderful book titled Psychocibernetics]

How was all that possible? Wait another little bit and I’ll talk about what’s behind…but think for a moment about how this information can help you, who are learning Italian and improving day after day.

Now, let me ask you another question…Do you think that just watching a top athlete can help someone who watches him/her to   improve his/her performances? If you’re keen on calcio (soccer for the States), practiced and watched, do you think that just watching Lionel Messi as he scores, can make you a champion? Or if you are keen on tennis (practiced and watched), do you think that watching Serena Williams as she scores points after points, can make you a better tennis player?

Recently I read about the so called “couch potato workout” (which in Italian could be translated into this: l’allenamento del pigrone). Basically it’s the training practiced by who, after stretching and relaxing, stays in front of a video to watch other top athletes performing at their best. And the result is that the performance of these observers drastically improves.

Likewise, you, after deeply relaxing, you could start watching (see, listen to) a person who speaks Italian very well and by simply doing it may be useful to you for the purpose of improving  your ability of speaking Italian. Of course, if you already understand what the Italian speaker says, the the experience will be even more fruitful: the concept of comprehensible input still counts.

Too good to be true? Maybe, but go on reading!

If it’s possible to improve thanks to either visualization or observation, why is it so?

Sport psychologists talk about “muscle memory programming” or “neuromuscular programming”. Basically, as we watch someone - even at TV - who does something, we also practice that skill…unconsciously, through invisible micromovements. And the same happens when we vividly imagine doing something, like already demonstrated by a famous research by Elisa Tartaglia, about whom I also talk in the Science behind Awaken your Italian.

Neuroscientists talk about mirror neurons, those that activate when we watch someone doing somehting, allowing us to get ready in doing that action we’re watching. I can better clarify this concept talking about kids learning how to ride a bicycle. Usually the fastest are those who have spent a bit of time watching other kids riding a bike. These children, as they watched the others ridin have activated their mirror neurons…mentally riding a bike.

The example you have just read about is from a book (Stroh im Kopf: it’s in German, I don’t know if it’s been translated into other languages) by Very F. Birkenbihl. In this book, the authoress (not living anymore) was wondering if it was possible to activate mirror neurons for a beginner who didn’t know the movement to practice. Paraphrasing and adapting what she wrote for our goals (speak Italian very well), her conclusion were: as a part of the brain is busy learning how to speak Italian and to build the neural pathway, while another part has to coordinate the muscles of the tongue and mouth to perform the taks - and that requires resources and energy - the piece of advice is to work in small modules and switch back and forth between real action and mental rehearsal. And this lets you learn Italian (or any other skill you want to learn) in a faster and more effective way.

And it’s what I invite you to do with my books based on visualization (Speak Italian Magically and Awaken your Italian), where I also suggest you several ways to layer your learning of visualization and mental training applied to learning the Italian language… In other words, you can switch back and fort between a passive phase where you relax and just listen to an audio, letting your mind wander by following the suggested ideas and an active phase where you ask yourself questions, hilight new and interesting words, or you just practice shadowing to speak Italian better and better.

Now it’s up to you! Have fun with Speak Italian Magically and Risveglia il tuo italiano!


P.s.: This article is an adaptation of a former article I wrote in Italian. Are you ready to read it?

Pubblicato in The science behind learning Italian | Tagged: , , | Nessun commento »


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