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What if you think you’re stuck with the learning of Italian?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 20 aprile 2013

child-learning1.JPGYou’ve been listening to a lot of Italian, you’ve read a lot of Italian, you are now starting to understand what  is being said to you in Italian…But when are you going to speak Italian with confidence? And how can you accelerate your process toward fluency?

Before answering those questions, let me guide you to your past, remote or recent, when you were a little child (like my son in the picture on the left:-) and you didn’t speak anything. You didn’t understand anything of what was being said to you.

After some time, more or less, depending on how stimulating was your environment and on other factors, you began to understand what your parents - or whoever was taking care of you - was telling you. At the beginning you started to understand because of the gestures, because of the tone of the voice of your caretakers. Then you started to understand some words. So you realized what your mummy was meaning while saying “pappa” (the word usually meaning food for babies), maybe because you associated it with the things that were around when your were going to have “pappa“: your mummy (your dad, or whoever was taking care of you) had always a spoon, you were wearing “un bavaglino“, you were sitting on “un seggiolone” and you were fed with “la pappa“. And finally when your mother was saying “è ora di mangiare la pappa” you realised what “pappa” meant.

And this process went on and on until you managed to understand a lot of more words. After a while during this process you started to utter some little words, such as “mamma”….”papà” and then syllables of other words, which soon became complete words and little sentences wit a proper meaning. And before you realized it, you were speaking your mother tongue and you reached fluency in it. If you were a child, like I was too, it may have taken 4 or 5 years to do it: you were speaking your mother tongue without having studied anything about grammar. Because, I guess you started with grammar only when you went to school, didn’t you?
While reading the text of this page on your device- pc, phone or tablet - you’re an adult now and you may not want to spend all that time (4 or 5 years to reach fluency!), but please follow my line or reasoning.
Focus on the process you went through while learning your mother tongue.

  1. You were immersed in the language;
  2. You started to understand what was being said to you;
  3. Then you started speaking and
  4. In the end you worked on grammar.

 So what, Antonio?, you may be saying.

Well, over the years I have been reminding myself and my students  - especially the ones who tell me that they began to understand the language but they don’t speak it yet - that grammar has to come later in the process. And that if they stick with what they have been doing, they can - and you can - move on with the process towards fluency in the Italian language.
Of course, there are ways to accelerate the process and I am convinced of the fact that adults can learn faster than children if they just let go of their fear of making mistakes and stick with a method that involves all of their brain.

So, you can reach fluency faster than a child, in less time. But how?

One of the key points is to involve all of your brain while learning. Learning on your whole brain is possible if you use a multisensory approach and multi-stimuli approach. Anyway, if you reached the point where you understand a lot of what is being said to you, I guess it’s time to speak! And how can you speak the language?

At least in three ways, two that you can practise on your own and one with at least another person. Which one do you prefer?

  1. Practising shadowing (which will help you train your tongue, your ears and all of your brain if you practise it while moving your body too)
  2. Answer easy questions as fast as you can! (And you can do this with a recorded mp3 too)
  3. In a conversation with a mother tongue speaker, maybe with a friend of yours (you can meet him or her through the internet too);

Of course I could elaborate on these points, but I guess I’ve been writing a lot today, so let me go and check if my son needs me;-)

Grazie mille for reading so far and I wish you “in bocca al lupo con il tuo italiano!“(=which has mostly the same meaning of break your leg or good luck, even though literally means: in the mouth of the wolf;-)

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