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Off to Rome and Getting a Real Lesson in Language Learning

I decided to take the leap and go to Rome for 10 days. My adventurous classmate, a woman about my age, decided to join me.

We had grand visions of speaking like locals, laughing with them and eating the delicious food that they would give especially to us because we made an effort to speak their language.

It didn’t exactly turn out that way.

We did our best to speak Italian, but I found that the words were not coming out of my mouth as swimmingly as I had imagined.

It took all I had to catch every fifth word that an Italian person was saying, and then usually they would start speaking English after hearing me stumble over my Italian parole (words).

I was so disappointed.

I had already spent over a thousand dollars on Italian lessons (one lesson at $85/per week over sixteen weeks), and I didn’t have much to show for it.

At times, I was even embarrassed.

On one particular day, at the Mercato di Campo de’ Fiori, I wanted to buy pasta from a pasta vendor. I was trying to tell the vendor that I wanted “both” bags of pasta. I used the word “ambidue,” which was the word my Italian teacher back in New York had said meant “both.”

The vendor looked at me a little funny and said, “Ambidue, hmmm,” and made a gesture with her head that showed me that this clearly was not a word that was used in everyday Italian!

She explained that “ambidue” was very formal language, and pretty much nobody used that word in conversation. Doh!

I got up the nerve to ask her what the usual word is, and she said, “tutt'e due.” I will always remember that lesson!

There Has To Be a Better Way

In that moment, I realized that I could learn more Italian outside the classroom than inside the classroom.

I came back home from Rome humbled (but full of pasta!).

I knew that if I continued my in-person lessons with my Italian teacher, it was going to take many more classes, much more time, and much more money if I was going to become a proficient speaker.

AND, I would still need to practice speaking with someone. Speaking with my teacher for one hour once a week was better than nothing, but I did not feel that it was enough to get me speaking well.

I wanted to speak and hear Italian, everyday!

I decided to look for some online resources to continue my Italian education.

I looked up videos on YouTube and discovered a whole new world of young people creatively using technology to teaching language acquisition, including Italian, in a more natural way.

The videos were in Italian, the topics of the videos were words and phrases used in everyday speech, and the enthusiasm of these young teachers was infectious.

It was a new way of teaching a language, and a new way of learning a language. I was ready for a new and better way.

And this is how I found Italian in Your Pocket.