In all of my Italian learning efforts–detailed here, here, here and here–I’m still not fluent. I try, I really do try, and I can certainly get by and I have definitely improved, but it’s still a struggle. And it drives me crazy. The latest series of setbacks usually now occurs when I’m in a situation where I just didn’t hear what was said so I say, “Dimmi di nuovo per favore. Non ti ho sentito.” (Tell me again, please. I didn’t hear you.) Then they do indeed repeat themselves…BUT in English. And that drives me mad. I didn’t say, “Non ti ho capito” (I didn’t understand you), I said I didn’t hear you! These are two completely different sentiments!
I’ve been partaking in language exchanges because they really are the best way to learn conversation, which is where I need the most work. I can read, write and understand it enough, but when it comes time to string my own sentences together, faccio un casino! One of the most crucial ways for a language exchange is for the participants to each be at the same level of the respective languages they’re trying to practice, so I should partner with someone whose English is at the same level as my Italian. But here’s the thing…no one really speaks “just okay” English. Even if they say their English is “just okay,” it’s not true….they can certainly get by way better than I can in Italian. Honestly, the only people whose English level is lower than my Italian level are the people who don’t speak any English at all. I’m not kidding.
So, not to get all pretentious and preachy Gwyneth Paltrow style because I know I’m not a parent, but I’m still going to share my two cents anyway. I believe one of the best gifts you can give your child is the gift of languages. It’s one of the most invaluable skills that will take them far in life and make them all the more well-rounded as individuals. And they need to start young, when their brains can absorb more! Being bilingual, trilingual, quadrilingual or more shouldn’t be a special skill or extraordinary, it should just be the norm me thinks. Anyhoo, avanti, avanti, avanti! And buon weekend!