Speak Italian Magically!

Relax! You can learn Italian now!

Change your mind-set to speak better Italian!

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 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:

ghandi-cliente.jpg

“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 | Nessun commento »

Do you believe you can speak Italian like a mother-tongue speaker?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 6 Maggio 2013

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about beliefs (you can still read it here). I have recently translated into Italian the quotation I started that article with…Here it is!

“Iniziamo la nostra vita con il mondo che si presenta così com’è. Qualcuno - i nostri genitori, insegnanti, analisti - ci ipnotizzano a vedere il mondo e a costruirlo nel modo ‘giusto’. Questi etichettano il mondo, gli danno dei nomi  e danno voce agli esseri e agli eventi  in esso, così che dopo non possiamo leggere il mondo in nessun altro linguaggio o sentirlo che ci dice altre cose.
Il compito è quello di spezzare l’incantesimo ipnotico, così che noi possiamo diventare udenti [undeaf] vedenti [unblind] e  multilingue, permettendo così al mondo di parlarci con nuove voci e scrivere tutto il suo possibile significato nel libro della nostra esistenza. Fa’ attenzione alla tua scelta degli ipnotisti.

The original English text was:

“We begin life with the world presenting itself to us as it is. Someone - our parents, teachers, analysts - hypnotise us to see the world and construe it in the ‘right’ way. These others label the world, attach names and give voices to the beings and events in it, so that thereafter, we cannot read the world in any other language or hear it saying other things to us. The task is to break the hypnotic spell, so that we become undeaf, unblind, and multilingual, thereby letting the world speak to us in new voices and write all its possible meanings in the book of our existence. Be careful in your choice of hypnotists.

The excerpt was written by Sidney Jourard.

Sometimes we believe - me too - that some things should be in a certain way and that they can’t ever change, or be different. The day before yesterday, a dear friend of mine told me that she’s slow in learning languages and that it’ll take a lot of time for her to learn the new language she’s approaching, the same way it was in the past for English (that she’s been learning for a long time). After hearing that, some ideas came to my mind and I am writing about them below, but first, let me ask you… And you? Do you believe you can speak Italian very well and in the shortest time?

Besides, do you believe you can speak Italian like a mother-tongue speaker? Probably right now you may be thinking that it’s impossible, because… you’re not a child anymore, because you have no time, or a billion other justifications (or excuses?), that can be more or less valid. Whatever your answer, positive or negative, you have given an answer based on your beliefs. If you have read the above excerpt by Sidney Jourard well enough, you may agree with me that perhaps what we believe in, may depend on someone else - our parents, teachers, analysts, or the people that are beside us in everyday life or who were with us during our childhood - who have “hypnotized” us into believing that we have limits, that something is possible and something else is not.

Henry Ford used to say: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right!” If you believe that a thing is possible, then you will do everything in your power to make sure it becomes your reality; if you instead believe that a thing is not at all possible, perhaps you won’t even take that little step that can help you make your dream come true, maybe the dream of speaking Italian very well. And the thing you may not be aware of is that the beliefs behind your actions, may depend on something external and not on yourself.

wright_brothers_flyer.jpg

Human history is replete of facts, objects, actions that right before they were done, were believed to be impossible and then they became reality. Take for example the Wright brothers, two bicycle sellers who defying the gravity law invented the airplane. If they didn’t believe that flying was possible, probably on 17th December 1903 Wilbur Wright wouldn’t fly and history would be different. But they believed in it and made their dream come true. If they hadn’t believed, do you think they would do it anyway?

Think for a moment of everything we use in our everyday life: tablet, iphone (I don’t use it yet;-), pc, ecc. What we believed impossible (or science fiction) about 10 or 15 years ago is today’s reality. Many more things are possible. But why are they possible? Perhaps because someone believed in it. Someone was firmly convinced that it was possible to invent everything we use nowadays and acted so that it became reality. It wasn’t enough for him (or her) just to believe it, he (or she) also took some little, constant and  inexorable step toward  his (or her) dream - and you can do it with the Italian language too!

As I write, I’ve remembered another example, more related to the world of learning foreign languages. Do you know that until not so long ago someone believed that it was impossible to learn a language and speak it like a mother-tongue speaker, especially after a certain age? It was called critical period, after that it wasn’t possible to acquire a language and speak it like a mother-tongue speaker, especially as far as pronunciation is concerned. You’ll just have to search on the web to find about Luca Lampariello, who started to learn several (!) languages after a certain age and in many of them he is at a level which is comparable to that of a mother-tongue speaker. His method has nothing of a miracle, but it consists of a constant practice for about 2 years on every language he learns (I don’t know exactly how many of them he speaks today: perhaps 10 or more).

There’s then a guy who goes under the name of Katsumoto who believed it was possible to learn Japanese and speak it at a mother-tongue level in a relatively short time. He learned Japanese in 18 months, by having fun.  In June 2004, at the  age of 21, he started learning Japanese. By September 2005, he had learned enough to read technical material, conduct business correspondence and job interviews in Japanese. And he did all that without ever being in Japan. Only in October 2005 he got a job  in Tokyo.

On his website he writes:

“I didn’t take classes (except for a high-level “newspaper reading” class…which merely confirmed that classes, um, suck); I didn’t read textbooks and I had never lived in Japan.”

Which in Italian could be translated into this (more or less):

“Non ho seguito nessun corso (a parte un corso di livello alto di lettura dei quotidiani…che mi ha semplicemente confermato che i corsi [di lingua], ehm, fanno schifo; non ho letto libri di testo e non avevo mai vissuto in Giappone.”

But how did he manage to learn Japanese at that very high level and in such a short time?

His “method” was to immerse himself in everything japanese and for all the time he could, both consciously and unconsciously (he also practised passive listening): he calls it All Japanese All The Time (AJATT).

Getting curious because of his results, I went and read his website so that I could understand more of what he did.

And do you want to know what’s the first thing he did when he started to learn Japanese?

He worked on his beliefs and suggests everyone wanting to do the same, to believe some fundamental things, that I have adapted for you to help you change your beliefs about your ability to speak Italian:

Believe you can learn Italian – Credi che puoi imparare l’italiano
Believe you will learn Italian – Credi che imparerai l’italiano
Believe it is your destiny to learn Italian – Credi che imparare l’italiano sia il tuo destino
Believe you already know Italian – Credi di sapere già l’italiano
Believe you are a native speaker of Italian – Credi di essere un parlante nativo della lingua italiana

Do you know what’s the second most important thing in his method?

Find out what’s fun for you. Think of what you like, and what you’re into. The books and TV shows and movies you like, the types of music you like – these shall be your learning materials.”

Which in Italian sounds more or less like this:

Scopri ciò che è divertente per te. Pensa a ciò che ti piace e a quello  che ti appassiona. I libri, i programmi tv e i film che ti piacciono, i tipi di musica che ti piacciono – questi saranno il tuo materiale di apprendimento.

Wow, even today I have written a lot, so let me conclude by saying to you - to myself (and that dear friend of mine getting near a new foreign language)…

Enough with limits, both self-imposed and imposed by others. Begin to believe that it’s possible to speak Italian very well, that it is your birthright…and the rest will come, one step at a time!

Pubblicato in The course | Nessun commento »

Do you really really believe you can learn Italian?

Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 10 Agosto 2011

I was reading a book about learning (and the title is actually: “About learning” by Bernice McCarty) and I was magnetized by a quotation of Sidney Jourard. Here’s what he says:

 We begin life with the world presenting itself to us as it is.

Someone - our parents, teachers, analysts - 

hypnotise us to “see” the world

and construe it in the “right” way.

These others label the world, attach names

and give voices to the beings and events in it,

so that thereafter, we cannot read the world

in any other language

or hear it saying other things to us.

The task is to break the hypnotic spell,

so that we become

undeaf, unblind, and multilingual,

thereby letting the world speak to us in new voices

and write all its possible meanings

in the book of our existence.

Be careful in your choice of hypnotists.

- Sidney Jourard

Then it just came to me that it’s all about beliefs.

I don’t remember where I read this sentence, but it popped in my mind: “Whatever we believe we can achieve”.

If we believe that we can start and learn another language, we’ll succeed. If we tell ourselves that we’re not ever going to master this new language, we won’t…actually, we won’t even try to start and learn it.

Now, let me tell you about another great author I came across recently. His name is Lee Pulos, who’s recorded an audio course about the biology of beliefs. Just at the beginning of his course he talks about “waking hypnosis”. An example will explain what he means. He actually tells the story of the natives who hadn’t ever seen large ships before Magellano got there. And when the explorers got there, natives received them as though they were gods.  Magellano tried to explain that they were human beings just like them and they used ships to get there. Do you know what? They didn’t believe it.  They actually couldn’t see ships. Why? Because no ship was existing in their world before, so those ships did not exist. Lee Pulos clearly explains about the power of beliefs, both positive and negative and it’s quite an interesting (and surprising) program to listen to.

What do you really really believe?

Have you tried to answer this question?

Have you ever thought about the fact that what you really really believe is what you fear the most?

This is what Heather Macauley Noell , authress of a great novel that I enjoyed very much, says about beliefs in her audioprogram, How to get better. She actually quotes “The result book” by Arlo Wally Minto. And there you can find a wonderful example:

 ”What are some of the things you believe in? You might answer God, gravity, myself, night and day. These
are things we might all believe in, but there are things we believe in stronger than any of these. The
simple truth is that the things we believe in stronger than anything else are the things that we fear. I
will guarantee you, if you are walking down a narrow path through the woods and you come face to
face with a grizzly bear, you are going to believe in that grizzly bear stronger than you ever
believed in God or gravity or yourself or anything else. If you believed in God that strongly, you
would be getting answers to all your prayers, but you’ve probably never prayed with that much
energy and emotion. You see, fear is the same thing as belief except that you put more energy and
emotion into something you fear and so it becomes a stronger belief.

[…] allowing your problems to be O.K. will solve 90% of your problems in life without even directing any attention to the problem.

The simplicity that makes this work is this: Have you ever worried about something or feared
something if you knew it was O.K.? No! If something’s O.K., you don’t worry about it or fear it.  “

Why have I talked about beliefs and what has this to do with learning Italian?

If you want to really start and learn Italian, you need to check what you really believe about your power to learn the language. Answer sincerely and write down your beliefs.

After doing it, ask yourself: “Do these beliefs are useful to my goal (learning Italian in this case)?”

If the answer is no, can you imagine a world where they were just O.K. (as Wally Minto puts it)? Besides, what about substituting them with positive ones?

I have already talked about the power of affirmations, but please keep in mind that if you really feel as though they are true to you, they will  really take the place of the older and negative beliefs you might have now.

As I am writing this article, the following sentence pops in my mind:

It’s all about connecting the dots! Sta tutto nell’unire i puntini!

It’s all about connecting the dots! Sta tutto nell’unire i puntini!

It’s all about connecting the dots! Sta tutto nell’unire i puntini!

So, are you ready to connect the dots and speak Italian now?


Pubblicato in The course | 1 Commento »

 

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