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    • A story, many stories at the Polyglot Gathering 2016 16 maggio 2016
      If you want to read this article in Italian, go here: https://goo.gl/Xc5Mo4 As you are reading the following text, from any device you’re doing it, and regardless of your background, I invite you to do a little experiment with me. Imagine for a moment that you are in a beautiful place. What is it? Think about it [...]
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Archivi per la categoria 'inspirational' Categoria

A story, many stories at the Polyglot Gathering 2016

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 16 maggio 2016

If you want to read this article in Italian, go here: https://goo.gl/Xc5Mo4

As you are reading the following text, from any device you’re doing it, and regardless of your background, I invite you to do a little experiment with me.

Imagine for a moment that you are in a beautiful place. What is it? Think about it for a moment. It’s evening. The temperature is perfect for you. There are people with whom you really love spending your time. Maybe there’s a fire in the center and then one of these people stands up and begins saying: “Once upon a time …”

How would you feel as you are right here to listen to this story? But what story?
Or what stories?

It’s been some time that I dwell on storytelling, experiencing a bit here and a little there (if you have followed me last winter, you may know that I wrote a story about Francesca,  who learns to speak a language using a special method, and that I am collecting and mapping different stories).

The first story I could tell you could be about a person, like you, like me, coming from a big city or a small town (maybe Tropea, why not?), who is looking for inspiration in his learning and teaching (foreign languages) path. He is in a stalemate, actually is losing a bit of motivation, he’s less inspired to continue learning German, or to decide once and for all to speak Spanish and French. So, this person is in this situation when one of his dear former students (perhaps this is Conor Clyne), who has now become a friend, tells him about a special event, with the participation of all these people who love to learn, talk and share their passion for languages ​​and foreign cultures.

This person (come on, let’s call Antonio :-)) decided, after much reflection, excuses and second thoughts, to participate in this event and to share with others some of the ideas that he’s experimenting on himself and his students (guided imagery and storytelling). He gets ready to leave not knowing what it will be, what he will face. He takes a plane (maybe more than one) and reaches  a beautiful German city: Berlin.

The unavoidable Alberto

The inevitable and very nice Alberto Arrighini of italianoautomatico.com. Thanks to Dragoş for the photo.

Here Antonio can discover other stories, such as the one of Lydia, who realized that everyone has their favorite way to learn languages, and many, among those who are successful in language learning, use  a different method than the others.

The presentation of Lydia. Thanks to those who took the photo.

The presentation of Lydia. Thanks to those who took the picture.

There are those who learn quickly, there are those who would like to learn more quickly, and those who talk about slow learning, like Caeryc and Santiago, who spoke in multiple languages, managing to involve even those who do not speak and understand these languages, getting even the young Antonio (in heart and spirit :-)) to get moved.  There is also a very young man (Dragoş Luca) who manages to speak publicly in English about something he cares very much, letting a lot of people reflect about the human implications of being able to speak several foreign languages:  knowing the language spoken by a people different from ours can help us understand its culture, maybe so different from ours, can allow us to overcome the barriers (including the walls) and prejudices that each of us can also find within himself.

Along with Dragoş Luca. Thanks to those who took the photo.

Along with Dragoş Luca. Thanks to those who took the photo.

There are so many experiences, techniques, languages ​​that are shared at this event, that each participant is able to enrich himself in the heart, mind and spirit.

SHARING. This is what everyone (even Antonio) can breathe in the air during this event.

Sharing thoughts.
Life stories.

In order to learn, to teach, to live fully one or more foreign languages ​​in the most natural and possible way. Again, for the second year in a row.

Thanks to Dragoş and the people who attended his (Dragoş’s) presentation, Antonio was able to find out that in some cultures it is a grave offense to touch the others on the head, because they consider that it’s in the head that the soul resides. Thanks to Caeryc and Santiago he got moved while  listening to a song in Russian, although he could not understand the words: he later discovered that the song, originally sung by children, was about that age of passage that is the end of childhood. Thanks to Lydia he realized even more that each person learns in his own way, that sometimes maybe it’s better not to teach but to make them learn.

And it’s thanks to Conor, the organizers, and all participants (even those who have not been mentioned in this article) that this young man returns home from a wonderful experience that allowed him to learn, grow, socialize (he who considers himself a “ambiverse” that is a something between introverted and extroverted, as he was able to discover thanks to Julia Barnickle and Alexander Ferguson), have fun, open his mind, tell many stories (specifically the story of the Prince Swordsman, the third part of Francesca’s story, and two other stories that had not initially planned to tell: the happiest man in the world and the Ugly Servant; after all, his presentation was entitled: Storytelling in Language Learning), create many mind maps, and who knows how many other things that he has still not realized.

Guarda le mie slide

Guarda le mie slide

Look at the slide of my presentation: Storytelling in Language Learning

Look at my visual notes

Look at my visual notes

Look at my mind maps and my visual notes: Mind maps created by Antonio Libertine at the Polyglot Gathering 2016

And so this journey ends. Antonio can return to his home, not far from his beloved, beautiful and contradictory Tropea, enriched with experiences, inspiration and enthusiasm, ready to live experiences that may transform him every day, knowing that after living them, he may rest for a while ‘and then start all over again. Now he knows that sometimes you have to accept the call and embark on a new path, knowing that it is always good to “relax and enjoy the journey!”

And the person who tells the story in front of the fire, on this starry night while you are in the company of your special people and you blissfully listened to his stories, he just concludes, paraphrasing Steven Moffat, simply with this:

Remember that in the end we are all stories

Un abbraccio e un caro saluto da Antonio

P.S.: Don’t you think it’s time to read in Italian? https://goo.gl/Xc5Mo4

P.S.: Feel free to reread the article and follow the links… There are tons of resoursces for you to speak Italian better and better!

P.S.3: Here are some impromptu videos at the Gathering 2016. Have fun!


Pubblicato in inspirational | Nessun commento »

Share your experience to improve with foreign languages!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 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 | 1 Commento »

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

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 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 | Nessun commento »

What has Siddharta to do with the learning of Italian?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 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 | 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 il 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 | Nessun commento »

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

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 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 

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

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 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!

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