Learning Italian. Again.

fiat on narrow street in  Spello, Umbria

Wonderful news! We're headed back to Italy this June. We'll spend two weeks in our dear Spello. Then one week in Bologna, a city I've always wanted to visit and sort of can't believe I haven't. After that, we have a few more days to play with. I'm picturing an agriturismo with long views and lovely walks and maybe a pool. Happy to take ideas!

Siena will only be with us for the first week in Spello and then the final few days, as she's attending language school in Arezzo for two weeks. We found a program where she studies in the morning and makes frescos in the afternoon, while living with an Italian family. The price tag for this venture is so astoundingly low, she's easily paying for half of it (thanks to her childcare work at our local Quaker meeting).

Meanwhile, Gabe wants to attend day camp in Spello. We're trying to coordinate with Lorenzo's parents so he has a buddy, but even if that doesn't work, he's undaunted.

These kids want their Italian back.

I can't blame them. I'm committed to digging in deeply, and to that end, I'm doing what I can on my own to ready myself. I can tell my work is paying off, the conditional tense is staring to make sense. Incredibile!

Here are some ideas:

1) Watch movies. Even if you use subtitles, watching movies in Italian can help your ear and your comprehension. After all, watching American TV is how most Italian teens learn English! Some of my faves: Bread and Tulips, Mid-August Lunch, Palio, Life is Beautiful, and Il Postino. Then there are classics like Cinema Paradiso, Marriage, Italian Style, and La Dolce Vita. I'm considering having a regular Italian movie night and documenting how we like them. 

2) Listen to Italian radio.  This is fun while you're cooking or just puttering about. Find a selection of stations here

Learning Italian by reading Pride and Predudice in

3) Read in Italian. It helps to read a book that you've read so much it's practically memorized, which for me is Harry Potter or something in the Jane Austen oeuvre. Currently, I'm reading Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy is particularly dashing in Italian.

4) Play with apps. Duolingo is great, but I need a few different methods, particularly some that aren't noisy, and also ones that are systematic as that's how I best learn conjugations. Pro-tip for those looking to decrease social media usage, these apps have a lot of the same "just one more" aspects as Facebook/Instagram/Twitter (plus the same utility in filling those awkward 3 minutes of waiting in line), but you actually get something out of them. Check out BabbelConiugazione, and Italian Verb Blitz.

5) Go back to school. If you're interested in studying in Italy (bonus: many schools can hook you up with fabulous deals on accommodations), I highly recommend this site, which aggregates programs. I sent them an email asking for schools that accept teens, offer homestays, and have an art component, and they forwarded that email to all their programs. Handy! I then got emails from programs that could fit our specifications, and for a time, opening my mailbox was akin to Christmas, with all these bright spots of Italian joy.

If you are like me you've tried at least one of these in the past for a day or two and it fell off your radar. One tip for habit formation that's helped me keep the reading and app work going for months now is to hook the habit you want to form on one that's already formed. One thing that almost never changed in my day is that I read before bed. So now, I read my book and do my app play before I read. Easy!

Now just keep your fingers crossed that we can inveigle Nicolas to join us, at least for a bit. He has an internship in Houston, and it's hard to take time off.

I hope you are finding ways to keep up with your language training! Let me know your ideas and strategies in the comment section!

Siena playing uke in Spello, Umbria