Why I Finally Decided to Start Learning Italian at Age 40
When I turned 40, I realized that ignoring my dreams, my passions, and things outside of my family that made me happy was not doing anybody any good, least of all me.
After spending time figuring out what was really important to me, I realized that learning and speaking foreign languages was REALLY IMPORTANT to me.
Perhaps this was my mid-life crisis, but I felt a strong desire to LEARN again, to become a student again, to open up my mind and heart to other languages and other cultures.
It was then that I realized that my love of the Italian language never left me.
I decided that NOW was the time to finally start learning Italian. The dream to speak Italian had aged in the cellar long enough!
My dream was not only to learn and understand Italian, but I had a deep desire to visit Italy and speak Italian with locals, just as I had done in France many times over, and just like my artist friend from childhood had always encouraged me to do.
What I Tried First and Why It Didn’t Work
The first thing I did was to look up Italian language schools near me, because this was the only way I thought a language could be learned – in school.
I found an Italian woman, originally from Rome, who had lived in the US for 20 years. She had a small school around the corner from me. I thought, perfect!
When I started classes with her, we started with vocabulary and grammar. I pretty much expected that.
I remember her clearly saying, “Grammar is the basic foundation of Italian. You have to know grammar in order to speak the language.”
So I tried my hardest to learn Italian grammar, verb conjugations, adjective agreements with masculine and feminine nouns, and sentence structure.
I had a little bit of a head start as far as vocabulary because of my knowledge of French, but it was still slow going because we would repeat the same sentences and have a new list of 50 vocabulary words in each class.
We did a lot of written homework, even writing essays in our first few weeks of class.
My brain was already starting to hurt!
Yet, I loved the sound and rhythm and expressiveness of the language so much that I kept trying, even though I was busy and sometimes couldn’t do my written homework before class.
But I wasn’t as interested in writing as I was speaking.
After all, my goal was to actually SPEAK the language in Italy!
The teacher also recommended supplementing her classes with the Duolingo online application.
In my opinion, Duolingo helped me learn more vocabulary and verb conjugations, but it did not help me at all in terms of helping me speak Italian better.
After four months of study, I was getting impatient.
I wanted to speak Italian, and I speak it NOW!