The thing about language learning is that it’s not at all permanent. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Simple. I have a B.A. in Italian but when you go stretches of time without using the language you start to forget the most basic things. (Case in point: the other day I was looking at the Italian version of DuoLingo to see what it was all about and it took me a good 30 seconds to remember the word for boy. Seriously.)
I definitely want to maintain my Italian language skills, but not having lived there in the past 8 years, it can be a challenge. Or not even a challenge, but just simply set aside until one day you realized that you’ve lost it. So when Christine of Almost Fearless proposed creating your own “Bilingual Summer” to study the language of your choice, I knew right away that I was in. This is just the push and the accountability that I need to commit to a summer of brushing up on my Italian. (Not to mention I then immediately announced it to several people that I was recruiting for the project so I had to follow through.)
This project is also coming at the perfect time for me. I’m headed back to the U.S. this summer and it will be the first time in quite a while that I will be in an all English-speaking environment. Not that I’ve been actively studying Arabic for a while now, but being around it constantly, I find I pick up new words and phrases all the time. Attempting to immerse myself in Italian while in the U.S. will give me a chance to activate that part of my brain even though I’m not abroad.
Here are Christine’s steps for creating your own Bilingual Summer.
1. Pick a language
2. Set an intention to learn it
3. Create an immersive environment this summer full of movies, music, books and other media in that language. Reach out to native speakers on sites like LiveMocha.com for language exchanges. Find local resources. Be creative.
4. Do a little bit, at least, every day.
5. Keep yourself motivated, by participating in our summer long language love-fest.
So I’ve come up with a list of ways that I will try to immerse myself in Italian for the months of June, July, and August this year.
My Goals for the Summer:
1. Read three novels in Italian.
I have several on my bookshelf: one half-finished, a few that have never been cracked, and one that I’d love to re-read. This will be a big challenge as I’ll have to really keep up daily in order to read one per month.
2. Watch two movies in Italian per month.
I sometimes check out movies at the Italian Cultural Center here in Beirut, so at least for the month of June this won’t be a problem.
3. Buy a new CD in Italian and listen to it often/learn all the words.
My aunt introduced me to Laura Pausini on my first trip to Italy and it was from her music that I learned words such as love, soul, tears, and a slew of other romantic words. It think listening to music is a great way to increase vocabulary. My friend will be in Italy this summer so I’ll have to get her recommendations for new music.
4. Read at least one article or blog post in Italian per day.
This shouldn’t be hard since I’m online a ridiculous amount. I’ll just have to, uh, clear some room in my current blog reading schedule.
5. Attend one cultural event per month. (Hopefully some that involve speaking Italian.)
I’m hoping to find some interesting activities both in Beirut before I leave and in Chicago once I get there. This will probably be my best chance at getting to actually practice speaking Italian. When I lived in NYC I used to go to Italian speaking Meet Up groups, so that’s another option.
6. Involve the BF and his kiddos in the project by teaching them some words/phrases.
I’ll be living with my boyfriend and his kids and I think it will be fun to involve them a bit as well. I’m imagining Italian games, picture books, online apps, etc. We’ll see how it goes.
Whew! That’s a lot! Well, the goal is to do something everyday so I guess I have enough to work with here.
If you’re keen to join in, I’d love to follow your updates, be they via blog, Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere. Let me know in the comments where to find you.
The start of my Bilingual Summer.