Okay, no more putting this off.
I’ve been living in Italy for six-and-a-half years now, and I get along pretty well with my mid-intermediate Italian language skills. I can navigate most situations, though often I have to be a bit creative in how I use my limited vocabulary and my feeble knowledge of the more complex verb tenses (perhaps the most daunting part of learning Italian). I often draw smiles or laughs at this cobbled-together attempt to be more conversive. But, I realize that I’ve been lingering at the outskirts of a fuller immersion and participation in Italian culture. I’d promised my self that when I moved my life to Italy I wouldn’t do it half-assed. So, no more procrastinating.
Tackling the resistance of the adult mind.
I’m painfully aware of how, when I’ve endeavored to venture into advanced Italian, my brain petulantly says “I don’t wanna!” Adult brains just don’t have the same aptitude for taking on a new language and making it stick. I didn’t grow up in a time where the competency of a child’s mind for adopting multiple languages was recognized or even encouraged. I marvel at the number of people here in Europe who grew up with a different mindset and subsequently a command of multiple languages.
I’ve been guilty of an expectation that, because English such a dominant language in the world, the onus should rest on other people to speak my native tongue. I can understand why non-English speakers view this as a form of arrogance and, dare I say, laziness.
Hunkering down with a private tutor of advanced Italian.
Years ago I did a month-long intensive Italian language course in Rome. I was told I was at a B2 level when I finished. But, in retrospect, I felt like I had so much new stuff crammed into my brain that I didn’t have the opportunity to really understand it and put it to practical use. Also, I was in classes with speakers from many other countries. It wasn’t unusual to be sitting alongside six other languages. For me, that wasn’t conducive to pushing the information down into my long-term memory. I’ve known for a long time that having private instruction is the best path forward for me.
A couple of months ago I discovered an online resource call superprof.it. It offers up a database of tutors at very reasonable prices. I researched several instructors available in a forty-kilometer radius and landed with a fellow who tutors at all levels. We’re meeting for coffee tomorrow to get acquainted and for me to understand his teaching style.
Concentration on individual components of the Italian language.
For me, mastery of advanced Italian will be “piano, piano” (slowly, slowly). This means fully digesting the individual components and putting them into practice before moving on to another meaty aspect. I’ve flirted with the conditional and conjunctive verb tenses but I haven’t remotely approached competency. In order to add more clarity to my communications and understanding of Italian, these are particularly essential.
Immersing myself in Italian media.
This is no small thing. Italian TV, movies, newspapers, books, and music (see my post about Italian music) are all rich sources for helping my reluctant adult brain to make the switch and rewire itself for long-term competency. My spouse, who is Italian, has been preaching this to me for years. I’ve been stubborn in this regard for far too long.
I’m tired of missing out!
Ultimately, by not having a command of advanced Italian, I’m remaining deaf to a good chunk of the rich Italian culture. So, time to commit and to do the work! Stay tuned as I share my progress.