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Create a ritual to speak Italian very well!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 23 giugno 2013

What mental state are you in when you learn Italian? And what mental state are you in when you speak it?
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Imagine this situation: you’re at home, sprawling either on your sofa, or on your bed, or even at your desktop table; you’re relaxed, you think how beautiful it is to learn Italian (do you?), then you start and learn it for a while. As you learn it you are at ease, perhaps you’re sipping a tasteful drink. Imagine another situation: you suddenly have to speak Italian, perhaps in an important work situation, or, in an extreme case, you need to help a person - who speaks only Italian! - who fell and you have to calm him or her, until the ambulance comes. What’s your mental state in these two situations? I guess it is a little different, isn’t it?

If, like I believe, your mental state is very different in those two situations, then probably it won’t be easy to remember words and expressions that could be useful  to help you cope with the real situation your in. What do you think about it?

In my last article I briefly talked (wrote, actually:-) about state dependent learning (apprendimento dipendente dallo stato) and how you can overcome this by adding new layers to your learning. Have you read it, haven’t you?;-)

In this article, instead, I want to talk (write, actually:-) about athletes and their rituals. Why do I want to talk about it? Go on with the reading if you’re curious to find it out.

Have you ever seen those athletes (at the TV or at the stadium) who start and do some things that from your point of view really seem bizarre? By searching the internet through Google you can find out that:

“nel rugby e nel calcio, per esempio, molti giocatori pretendono di avere sempre lo stesso posto negli spogliatoi. Per non parlare di chi vuole solo ed esclusivamente il solito numero. Ai tempi di quando giocava nell’Inter, si racconta che Bobo Vieri indossava sempre le stesse scarpette con le quali aveva segnato la domenica precedente. Che dire del grande Giovanni Trapatoni, che quando allenava la nazionale di calcio Italiana usava versare sul terreno di gioco una bottiglietta di acqua santa?”

Which in English, could be translated more or less like this:

“in rugby and in soccer, for example, many players require that they always have the same place in the changing rooms. Let alone those who only and exclusively want the same number. When Bobo Vieri worked at Inter Milan [a famous Italian soccer team], they say that he always wore the same shoes he scored with the previous Sunday. And what about the great Giovanni Trapattoni, who, while training the Italian national soccer team, used to pour on the game field the content of a holy water bottle?” (the source is here!)

What do you think? Are these rituals useful?

Whatever your opinion (and I care about your opinion - let’s make it clear!), let me tell you what’s mine.

If an athlete performed very well by following a precise ritual, then repeating it at the beginning of the next match could help him get again in the same mental state, in the mental “zone” that will allow him to perform very well. If instead, by following the ritual, he performs poorly, then - read carefully! - by repeating it, very probably he won’t be able to perform very well - maybe  because he’ll end up having what’s called a collapsing of anchors (I talked about this in Italian in another blog of mine).

If you remember what you’ve read at the beginning of this article (do you? Don’t you?:-), then you’ll agree with me that if you are able to recreate the same mental state when you learn Italian ( or even when you read it or learn it for pleasure) and when you speak it in a real situation, then you’ll have an easy life with the Italian language (and with any other thing you want to apply this principle!)

Please keep in mind that anything I said about adding new layers to the learning, still counts! So, you could generalize the learning by adding new ways of being exposed to the same material… and over and above this, you can create a ritual, or one of those that in NLP (NEURO LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING) are called anchors (I talked about this subject in Awaken your Italian).

But… how can you create a special ritual for you to access the same mental state and then remember what you want to remember?

There are infinite ways of doing it!!!

What follow are the first three that come in my mind:-)

1) Create a new Italian identity! One of the things that I like doing while teaching Italian to my students is to create a new identity, an all Italian identity, with name, family name, city of residence or origin, address, profession and age, all in Italian! Why? For several reasons. What do you think? Why this could be useful for you, who are learning Italian and you speak it better and better? I am talking about creating a new, all Italian identity. Because, first of all, you will end up smiling every time you are called with the name Francesco (or Flavio), or Rosa (or Lavinia); and smiling (and/or better yet laughing) will already create an optimal mind state for learning and speaking. Secondly, because you will become one with a person who already speaks Italian very well. After all you would be - you are! - a person who was born and lived in Italy and Italian would be - it is! - your mother tongue! Thirdly this would help you relax when making mistakes, because it wouldn’t be Carl (or Dave), or Jen (or Johanna) - Come ti chiami? - to make them, but it would be Francesco or Rosa - or any name you have chosen for your new Italian identity;-). At the beginning it may not be easy for you to remember the details of your Italian identity, then by repeating the process it will become easier and faster. And what I suggest my students is to briefly recall this new identity of theirs in their mind, both when they’re learning the language, and when they have to speak; and another reason I do it (and so did Lozanov in his suggestopedical courses) is that this way they’ll have a little and funny ritual to access the right mental state to learn and speak Italian! Obviously in a later moment you can do another game, the game of identity integrations, but this is another story;-)

2) Your special place and when you’re at your best! Another way to create your personal ritual could be to create a mental place to access to and relax just before you learn Italian and then when you have to speak it. Of course, at the beginning it may take a while, but with practice you can become faster and faster. And what counts is that you can do it in your mind, without anyone to notice you. How can you do it? To find it out, you’ll just have to follow the second lesson of the course Awaken your Italian, titled “Il tuo posto speciale“! Another useful lesson to speak Italian very well is the one that helps you access yourself at your best! And this you can do it thanks to the third lesson of Risveglia il tuo italiano, titled “Quando sei al tuo meglio!

3) Anchor your nose to the smell of success! Alternatively…you can create a “nasal anchor“, but doing it could be slightly more difficult than the methods you have just read about above this. In a wonderful book, titled “Keep your brain alive” the authors,  Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin, suggest to create an association between a specific smell and a specific place… And while thinking about this book again, it “popped” in my mind: why can’t you create an association between a specific smell and a mental state - the mental state in which you speak Italian very well? The authors also suggest to create some little jars with sponge cubes where you can pour some drops of perfumed essential oil (lemon, lavender, vanilla, etc.). Perhaps before learning and before speaking Italian very well, you could smell the same fragrance, what do you think about it? ;-)

Now, I don’t know which one of these three methods is the most practical for you, but I do think that having mental states that are easily accessible is very useful to speak Italian very well (and even for a lot of other things in life), so I strongly suggest you to create your rituals (the simplest and the quicker, the better) that allow you to make good use of your pleasant learning experience. What are you waiting for? Why don’t you put into practice one of the expedients I’ve just talked (written, actually;-) about? Or, why don’t you create a very personal one and then you let me know it? I would be very grateful! And you would have contributed to my personal growth, and what is equally important, to yours!

P.s.: this article is an adaptation of an article I published yesterday in Italian in another blog of mine, are you ready to read it in Italian?

-Antonio

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