Parli Italiano? What Learning a Language Taught Me About Myself
| 3 min read
Ciao, come stai? The simple greeting, “Hello, how are you?” in Italian is only three words long, but a powerful starting point to a full language of possibilities.
I recently took an Italian class with my husband at a local cultural center over the course of 15 weeks. The experience was both challenging and exciting, pushing me to learn in ways I hadn’t before.
Making a concerted effort to learn a language as a hobby requires dedication and consistency. Upon undertaking this endeavor, I realized that whether I excelled or struggled was entirely a result of my own commitment, as I had no milestone, letter grade or diploma dictating my effort.
My inspiration for learning a language
I was inspired to take an Italian class by my grandparents. I grew up hearing my Italian grandparents speak to each other and listening to the stories of my grandpa’s childhood in Italy before immigrating to the U.S. at 15 years old.
Mia Gallucci on her travels to Italy, pictured here in Venice.
My family had visited Italy before, exploring our family roots in a small town near the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park in central Italy and catching up with distant relatives. I found that during these experiences, it was challenging not knowing the language. I relied on other members of my family who understood it better than I, and it resulted in a lot of time spent sitting and observing the conversations unfolding in front of me.
I realized the knowledge of basic phrases had their purpose in tourist destinations and at establishments but learning the language at a deeper level would help me better connect with others in the future, whether that was abroad or in other settings here in the U.S.
My key takeaways
Learning a new language is a journey. There is no clear beginning, middle or end. There are several important habits I found that have helped me avoid throwing in the towel, even during the challenging moments of this journey.
- Consistency is key! Schedule dedicated time for language learning and practice.
- Having a dedicated time of the week at the local cultural center to continue my language practice encouraged me to remain consistent in my efforts. I found that this experience allowed me to progress in my skills faster than I anticipated.
- Utilize online and local resources.
- Language learning can be easily accessible and comes at a low cost when utilizing local or online resources. I recommend taking a trip to your local library, local cultural center, or exploring online tools or mobile apps to get started!
- Get others to join you!
- When others join you in learning a language, you can practice together and hold each other accountable. Plus, you can make plans as a group to travel or connect with native speakers!
By far, the best part of my journey in learning Italian has been the time spent connecting with my grandparents and seeing the smile their faces as we chat about what I’ve learned. I even had the pleasure of watching my grandpa review my Italian class homework, checking for errors along the way. I will always remember those moments and it inspires me to continue practicing!
Over the next few months, I will continue to challenge myself to shake up my daily routine and packing our lives with new activities, hobbies, and passions. Follow along for where my adventures will take me next!
Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates.
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Photo credits: Courtesy of Mia Gallucci