Bilingual Summer Update
It’s one month into my Bilingual Summer project so I thought it would be a good time to give a little update on my progress.
In my first post a made an ambitious list of goals to accomplish this summer. One thing that I hadn’t really factored into this whole thing, however, was that the time I planned on putting into immersing myself in Italian probably should have been allocated to things like, say, finding a job and getting ready to move back to the U.S. That said, I have been working on doing at least a little something every day.
Books: I’m still chugging along reading my first novel of the summer Come Dio Comanda by Niccolò Ammaniti. I am about halfway through which means I’m probably not going to make my goal of reading three novels this summer. I have to set aside specific time to read when I’m not tired, otherwise I can easily read a few pages and have no idea what I just read. I try to read without looking up any words so focus is necessary–not ideal for before-bed reading.
I also picked up some magazines for cheap at the Milan airport. I’ve already read one cover to cover and I’m saving the rest for next month.
Movies: I watched just one movie this month, Dieci Inverni. (I probably should have tried to watch more before I canceled my abbonamento at the Italian Cultural Center in Lebanon since that gave me easy access to movies, but alas, I didn’t.) Italian movies tend to be really strange, but I liked this one a lot, though it was a bit quirky.
Music: I haven’t yet discovered any new CD to become obsessed over, but I did figure out how to listen to Radio Italia online and have been listening to live Italian radio daily. Not only am I getting music, but I’m hearing the DJs talk which is good for listening comprehension. My favorite was the other day when one of the two radio hosts started speaking in a very poor accent accent (read: American) out of the blue and the other host suddenly interrupted him and said, “Ma perché parli cosi?” (But why are you talking like that?)
Blogs: As far as reading material online goes, I have been terrible. Surfing the internet and reading blogs is something I tend to do rather mindlessly, so even when I have come across a few posts, I’ve only really skimmed them.
Cultural Events: No . . . BUT, I did take an impromptu little jaunt over to Venice for a week! I had not anticipated a trip to Italy when I committed to the Bilingual Summer project but when the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. Because, who can resist a trip to Italy? I certainly can’t! So I spent six days actually being immersed in Italian: speaking, reading, listening. It was fantastic.
I have to say, I came back from Italy feeling a little down about the whole idea of creating an “immersive environment” at home. Being in Italy is the way to do it! Creating the need to speak, plus listening non-stop is the way to actually learn. In Italy (and even now since I’ve been back) I found myself thinking in Italian and creating dialogues in my head in anticipation of future conversations. What I’ve been doing at home is really only the minimum that I should be doing every day in general (not just during Bilingual Summer) to maintain my Italian.
The good news was that I didn’t at all feel that I’d regressed in my Italian. Especially after a day or two, I felt that I could easily communicate and wasn’t searching for words too often. That made me feel hopeful. And the icing on the cake was at the end of the trip when the woman from Alitalia was helping me with the self-service check-in kiosk and was confused about how I wasn’t Italian (first name American, last name Italian). But your accent is perfect! Not sure that’s true, but it made my day, I’ll tell you.
And so, I’m planning on continuing my efforts at working on my Italian this summer in the hope that maybe it will stick and even become a regular thing. I’ve got some ideas for what I want to work on next month, especially in the area of goal #6.
I leave you with a picture from my week in Venice, and a proper post to come later, I hope.