I’m a huge proponent of self-learning. With the advent of the internet and its widespread use and overabundant information (I have a whole spiel on this topic, which I will save for another blog post on an undetermined future date), I feel there’s very little that can’t be learned with nothing more than the will to learn it, some time, and the know-how to find what you’re looking for.
Time is the hardest commodity for me to come by. I’ve taken quite a few online college classes, so I know I have the dedication needed to learn a topic. My problem with the fifth item on my list is that it’s been in progress for way too long with not enough to show for it.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I have an almost unhealthy interest in language and in grammatical constructions. It’s not surprising then that I’m interested in becoming a polyglot. My issue lies in the fact that I’ve started to learn several languages, but I haven’t come to any sort of fluency in any of them. I don’t ask for much to cross these languages off my list. I just want to be able to hold basic, everyday conversations without consulting a dictionary for a word all the time.
My favorite language so far is Italian. So far I’ve learned that I dislike the classroom approach to learning, and audio is great except that it takes a lot of time to learn very little. I’m a visual learner, so once I’ve got pronunciation down and the general flow of the language, I prefer to do most of my learning by sight. I’ve done Pimsleur, and I find the material to be great, but there’s too little of it, and it’s too restrictive. However, it’s been a great starting point for me. I did other audio courses, found at my local library, and found them to be even more restrictive, though I enjoyed the influx of new voices and lilts.
In the past I’ve gone searching for other methods of learning languages–in other words, I did a bazillion Google searches–and I found lots of great tricks for picking up new languages that I’d like to try.
Namely, I purchased ONE book on basic Italian grammar and pronunciation rules (and lots of verbs were involved in this book). You can find it on Amazon for about ten dollars. I’m going to get a general idea on how to use Italian properly, then get my vocabulary in an interesting way; I’m going to write some basic personal blogs (unpublished) that are kind of my day-to-day life, including interesting dialogues, things I do for fun, things I’m interested in, my job, et cetera. Then I’m going to Google translate it and use the keywords for my vocabulary lists. Additionally, I’m going to force my best friend to practice with me in Italian (he’s learning too) for speaking practice, and listen to Italian podcasts and read Italian articles for reading and listening practice. I’m planning to spend the least amount of time on the grammar book and vocab lists and focus most of my time on listening and speaking. I think when learning a new language the best way to learn is by using it as opposed to passively learning.
If you’re not a single mom like I am, I’ve heard you can use meetup.com to find groups of people to practice your language speaking skills with. What a wonderful tool and a great way to meet people who share your interests!
So this is my effort to seriously knock out my first language. Once I’ve reached fluency (basic fluency–nothing fancy), I’m hoping to upload a video of myself speaking the language unscripted.
My goal while learning Italian is to find the language learning methods that work best for me. Once I have them I’ll go back to re-learn Spanish and maybe–just maybe–try French again after that.
Desiderano buona fortuna! (Crap, did I say that right?)