When you start learning a language you have high expectations, more than you would care to admit. A new language opens up a new world and you would just dive into it, head first.
I have always had extremely high expectations every time I have learned a new language and I can honestly say that, for as much as I can be good at languages, I have always overestimated my abilities.
I was focused on the result and didn’t pay much attention to the process. I wanted to speak without errors so bad that the idea of speaking became a torture: I knew I could not avoid mistakes, so I could not be flawless, so I could not speak.
My story is the perfect example of what happens when you have the wrong mindset: it precludes you from really enjoying the language and everything it brings with it. If learning Italian is a chore, how much of it are you really going to learn?
Gloria (Speakita.com) and I are both “natural” teachers: we don’t teach our students a language. We teach them how to learn that language in order to fully understand how it works and to become a confident, carefree speaker of it.
We are both teachers and language learners ourselves so we have plenty of experience and thus recommendations for you to grow as an independent learner and speaker of Italian.
We have identified the main areas where Italian students struggle and these are our recommendations on how to get past that feeling of overwhelm and get rid of stress:
- Know yourself as a learner. This is the first step, but it’s also one that will accompany you throughout your language learning process. It will take a few months probably to understand how you “work”, but it will be worth it in the long run. Knowing how you learn will allow you to choose the right materials for you, the right courses, the right teacher.
- The language learning world is very crowded, to say the least; it’s hard to find information that is really helpful and applicable. The best recommendation we have is to keep a safe distance from every blog title, program, book, etc. that claims to get you results in an x amount of time. It’s just not realistic.
- The Italian language may not be the most difficult in the world, but it has its share of challenges. Keeping everything under control is not easy and it can be exhausting. Set the bar low.
- The first goal is not to know everything about grammar, but to be understandable, and to be able to communicate what you want to communicate. You cannot learn a language by learning grammar rules. A language is not an Ikea piece of furniture that you can assemble by following a set of instructions.
- Time limitations only define your commitment in terms of how long every day/week/month you can learn Italian. It has nothing to do with how long it takes to reach your goal.
- Outside criticism and inner criticism are bad for you. And there is absolutely no reason why you should listen to them.
- Comparison is also very bad for you. When you know yourself as a learner and you set realistic objectives for you, then why compare your very own, personal experience with anyone else’s experience?
- Making mistakes is fine. Mistakes help you learn, trust them.