Italian in 3 Months Challenge: 1 Month Update!

Israel

Pianist-composer, polyglot, Hongkonger, explorer, ex-programmer, ex-author-to-be, son and brother. Discovering myself through discovering the world. Blogging my language adventures and spreading the Cantonese joy.

I can’t believe it’s been one month! The time really zoomed by. For a three-month challenge like this, I find it appropriate to give monthly updates, so here I am. Spoiler warning: the progress isn’t exactly ideal.

The Hurdle

I’m a music student, and this month was a month full of my friends’ graduation concerts, which, for me, entailed rehearsals and concerts every day and evening. I also had to finish a musical composition within the past month. It was really hard, but I’m not going to let this become an excuse to slack off. So as I so happened to have written before, despite my plans for intensive study, I reduced my learning activities, but made sure they were consistent. It’s more important to do something every single day than do a lot on one day.

So here’s a quick run-through of my project progress!

What I’ve Done

  • finished a three-week intensive course for beginners at my university…which turned out to be significantly less intensive than I expected. While we mostly went through basic concepts (repeatedly) that I had figured out myself (from my experience with Indo-European grammar), it was helpful to come into contact with a native speaker, especially for her cultural knowledge and pronunciation.
  • went through around two-thirds of the Duolingo French-Italian tree. I know it isn’t the best learning resource, but it’s still my favourite pastime.
  • read some articles on LingQ. I can understand mostly “Beginner 2” articles without too much help.
  • started trying out Beelinguapp for a mobile-friendly LingQ-like experience – review coming soon!

Progress towards my goals

Again, due to the lack of time, I didn’t expect too much progress this month. Still, I would say I’m getting a feel for the structure of the language, as well as racking up vocabulary quite quickly (again thanks to French).

There’s just one main problem: it’s all passive. I can read a lot of texts and understand some speech, but haven’t got much experience writing and speaking, i.e. using what I’ve learnt.

When we put that together with the goals I set out:

  • to be able to read daily-life texts: I think that is quite closed to accomplished. What I need is to further familiarise myself with the language so I can read naturally.
  • to be able to conduct casual conversations confidently: all I’ve spoken so far includes introducing myself and suggesting pizza with salami (for my speaking exam LOL), so that needs working on.

Slight change of direction

For my second month, I’m shaking things up to address the obstacles between me and fluency, while also retaining the parts I like so far.

Passive learning

Despite what I just wrote, passive learning is still crucial to expanding vocabulary and familiarising myself with the language in general.

Duolingo: again, for fun.

Easy Italian: how could I ever have forgotten my favourite language-learning web series? I enjoyed Easy German and Easy Polish a lot (in addition to helping out with Easy Cantonese) back then, even though I later stopped watching. This is a series of street interviews with bilingual subtitles. From the looks of it, there are but a few episodes up there, but I’m going to make the most out of them.

Beelinguapp: my new favourite app. I’ve had it on my phone for quite a long time, but I’ve never come around to need it or try it in depth. Now is the best time, and I can tell you, it’s a good app. But before I write my review, it’s basically a library of texts (mostly classic tales) in a number of languages, from which you can pick two to read and listen to in parallel-text format.

Readlang: how could I have forgotten that this site exists??? This is one of the better resources out there for extensive reading and accessing public texts. I wanted to slap myself when I saw it in one of my older posts.

This Italian textbook: I got this book second-hand for free during last year’s polyglot gathering. Its level is slightly above mine right now, so I thought, why not try it out, especially to keep my eyes off screens for once. (Say hi if you’re the original owner of this book and reading this!)

Podcasts! I love them but I haven’t found any suitable and interesting one yet, so leave me a comment if you have any suggestions!

Active learning

You know what they say – use it or lose it. So after I learn all that stuff above, I’m going to start consolidating it!

Speaking practice: I’m starting to look into tutors suitable for me on italki – and to be honest, I haven’t had sufficient experience to pick a best one. But I’m aiming to do at least an hour per week of speaking practice: just casual conversation, to get the language flowing.

Writing practice: I’m doing some of the exercises in my textbook, but I’m also planning to write at least a passage per week. I have no idea what kinds of things I can or should write about though.

That’s it for now. See you in another month! And I hope things actually work out better this time…