Strategies for learning a new language

I’m learning to speak Italian – again!!!  I’ve had several attempts over the years and am determined to achieve a decent level of conversational Italian this time.  My husband was born in Italy and came to Australia when he was 4 years old – 64 years ago.  He did not return until 2004 when we visited his Uncle (Zio), Aunt (Zia) and Cousins (cugini) – see I do know some words.

That visit was wonderful in many ways.  He reconnected with his mother’s family after decades and they welcomed us with open arms.

The only down side was that I wouldn’t let him out of my sight as I couldn’t speak the language!!  If he needed the bathroom, I would be left to use sign language to communicate with his relatives. He had been brought up speaking Italian at home so that made the trip much easier.  However, he and I have never had the patience for him to teach me.

I tried learning again with a wonderful friend of ours, Luciana who had been friends of the family since they met in the Immigration camp when they arrived from Italy in 1952.  Luciana was a Roman, she always stressed that and only spoke the ‘true Italian’.  Italy has different dialects but most people use the Roman version of the language.  Unfortunately, Luciana became ill with cancer and passed away last year so our lessons came to an end.

I have started again now, it is third time lucky – I hope!  I’ve recently found a free – yes free no strings attached – course online and am determined to complete it this time.  I’m studying through FutureLearn.com.

Strategies for Learning a New Language

Learning a new language can be fun but it does take commitment. It is easy to give up because of frustration and impatience.  However, learning is good for our mental health and helps keep our brains active which is important as we age.

1. Forget being self-conscious

One of my biggest problems is overcoming my self-conscious feeling of speaking in another language.  I’m concerned I sound too ‘Australian’, I don’t pronounce the words correctly or people will laugh at me.  These thought patterns definitely hold you back.

My advice is to just jump in a start speaking.   vocaroo.com  is a website where you can record yourself speaking and then replay it back.  We actually had to use this in the lessons and at first I was hesitant but then I thought ‘what the heck, I’ll give it a go’.  It is a great tool and really helpful when you listen to yourself you can see where you need to improve.  For me, I was speaking too slowly but that will improve as I become more familiar.

2. Make the time and set a timeframe

In previous attempts at learning Italian, I have never actually made the time to consistently review and practice.  I would start out with great intentions and then fall off track.  I now schedule in half an hour each day.  With 168 hours in a week, surely I can fit in 3.5 for practice.

Setting a timeframe is also good – booking a holiday to the destination of the language you are learning is a fabulous way to put a timeframe in place.

3. Practice, practice, practice

Find someone who speaks the language and is willing to have a conversation with you – online, friends, family.  There are a couple of ladies in the same course as me who live in my area so as we learn more we will meet up and try to put our learnings into practice.

Reading children’s books which are written in the language you are learning is another good way to become familiar with words.  Children’s books are less overwhelming.

Listen to news or programs in the language so you become familiar with the sound of the language.

It is never too late to start learning........plus it keeps your brain active.Click To Tweet

Ciao!!!  A presto!  (I hope you are impressed!)

What language would you like to learn?  Can you speak other languages already?

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26 thoughts on “Strategies for learning a new language

    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Oh it is a great site Ellen! There are so many subjects you can study. I’ve just completed a short course on Nutrition and now also studying one on Ageing Well.

      Reply
  1. Leanne

    Good on you Sue – I love that you are constantly growing and finding new and interesting things to do. You’ll be speaking like a local by the time you go to Italy again!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I need to keep learning or doing something Leanne and I’m really enjoying it all. It is self paced so no pressure and tons of information plus it is FREE!

      Reply
  2. Charlotte

    I am terrible and learning languages, nothing really sticks although I am not bad at sign language but I think that’s because I am more kinetic! Great tips though and definitely something to look into!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I know me too Charlotte but I am determined to give this my best shot. next time we visit the relatives in Italy I want to at least have a conversation with them.

      Reply
  3. Lisa/Syncopated Mama

    Hey – I’ve had practically the same experience you have! My husband’s not Italian, but he lived in Rome for 5 years while going to grad school there (all in Italian), so he’s pretty much fluent. I’d known just a bit of Italian from my trips there before I met him, but then I did a few free online courses (and went through some of his old books) right when we got married. I was actually doing pretty well with it for several years, but then when our daughter came along, I’ve barely found the time to get a little practice in (I use duolingo for that). I’m hoping to get back into it soon – you’re so lucky that you have a little group of gals around you to practice with!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Hi Lisa I think the hardest part is keeping the practice up – use or lose it. I was doing okay but found when I didn’t speak it regularly I lost it all. I’m looking forward to meeting the ladies who are doing the course because we are all beginners so we won’t feel so self-conscious.

      Reply
  4. Kathleen - Bloggers Lifestyle

    That learning site you shared is awesome, my hubby and I are checking it out. Good on you for learning Italian at least you have someone to talk to, that is important. I have always wanted to learn Spanish, since my visit to Mexico years ago. I don’t think I will now as I don’t know any Spanish speakers here. I did learn an unwritten tribal language, it is quite hard without any helps, we could communicate in a trade language and that helped us as we worked out the sounds of the tribal language. When we were fluent, we were able to write literary books and teach them to write their own language.
    Kathleen

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Yes I’m doing several courses or have them on my list Kathleen. I love the fact that they are short and FREE!

      Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Hi Mainy! Yes my husband usually makes me try to speak Italian when we visit his family but I’ve always been too self-conscious. I do think people appreciate you trying to speak a few basic words in their language rather than assuming they will speak English.

      Reply
  5. Mother of 3

    Good luck! I’ve always wanted to speak a second language fluently but I’ll fully admit that worrying about sounding “funny” to those that can really speak fluently.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Oh that is my main stumbling block Joanne – the fear of how I sound. I think once you get over that everything is much easier. Besides Italians are very good with hand gestures and so am I so perhaps I can use that as a way of communicating. LOL:)

      Reply
  6. topfivemum

    you go girl! it is hard learning a language – I learnt French and German and married a Frenchman. Our home is bilingual so our kids will be lucky (one day they’ll realise) to speak both. My top tip is to leave pot its around the house to learn basic vocab of everyday objects. If you’re more advanced, translate a small article from the second language into your own and look up and learn any new words. Even once a week will help! Good luck, 3rd time lucky as they say. #mg

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I think it is fantastic that you are teaching your children to speak other languages. Children learn so much easier than adults and they will thank you for it in the future. I’ve booked in for the full course so I am determined to parla italiana one day.Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      Reply
  7. Shopgirl Anonymous

    In college I was told that if you do not learn a language before your 12 you will never really learn it, because that is post the moment your brains switches sides. Your blog has motivated me to try again. I think this is a great resolution for 2018! 🙂 I have to be realistic here. 😉

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Well I think we should always give things a try and keep learning. It is also very important to keep learning and my brain active as I get older. I may not be the best at speaking Italian but it is fun to learn. 🙂

      Reply

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