Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The easy way to learn Italian





I thought I'd share this video with you since it fits the theme of learning Italian and is a lot more fun than a detailed list of the many, many grammar drills I do all day.

I have to say, grammar drills or no, I am still really enjoying the whole experience of learning a language as my full-time job. When I left for Nigeria there was zero time for any cultural or language study. I was learning consular tradecraft by day and frantically arranging my move to Africa by night. Somewhere during those six weeks I managed to watch some YouTube documentaries and read a few news articles. And throughout my two years in Nigeria (despite my ongoing attempts to learn more about the culture through travel, literature, and music) I definitely felt the lack of cultural knowledge held me back and made every interaction, particularly the early ones, shallower than I would have liked.

Now I get a head start to dive into another culture and it really has been fascinating. Outside of class I've been reading voraciously about everything Italian, from history to art, music to politics. I've watched some classic Italian films in class and some famous operas at home. And of course there's the  food. I've been studiously sampling Italian wines, learning how to drink tiny, but powerful espressos, and as I mentioned before, working my way through the cookbook to end all cookbooks.

Will I be some sort of expert when I land in Rome this summer? Of course not, but I'd like to think I won't be the 'ignorant American' either. Which, of course, is the point. A good diplomat doesn't just know her own country, she knows her hosts as well. (And even more importantly, a great diplomat can show her friends and family a good time when they come to visit.)

So consider this my status update. I'm almost a quarter of the way through language training and still happy to be here. And I guess if the class doesn't work out I can always get myself a Fiat. ;)



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