We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My new best friend

I bet you thought I was going to tell you all about a new shopkeeper or barista who  befriended me this week.  I wish!  I made a promise to myself that I would push myself harder to improve my Italian this year, and in doing so, I've been working on developing some new daily habits.  One to two hours a day I am pouring over my Italian workbooks, listening to audiotapes and recording myself. I'm also reading a book in Italian!  I chose an old favorite of mine- Nancy Drew's Mystery of the Broken Locket!  Don't laugh, I realize this  book is geared towards 10-12 yrs old, but it's right up my alley.



According to some Italian proficiency tests I took recently, I'm at an intermediate level. Still, I find myself horribly deficient. The Nancy Drew book is forcing me to really work at it. I've been making some good progress, although a bit slower than I would have liked.  My process is pretty simple- I attempt to make out the text on my own with the hopes of being able to read and understand as much as I possibly can. Then,  I break out i Ragazzini, my trusty Italian-English dictionary,  and start looking up the words I don't know. Then, I take a tea break!  I have two new notebooks- one for nouns, prepositions, adverbs etc, and another for verbs. Anything that is new to me I am writing down in my notebooks, along with examples of how the words are used. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but i Ragazzini is about 4 1/2 inches thick.  I'm not only getting a mental work out, but  my arms are also benefitting from all the lifting.

At the rate I am going, I expect to be finished with Nancy Drew in about a month.  I thought I had a pretty extensive vocabulary already, however, to be honest, I think my new notebooks will be full up before the book is finished.  The system seems to be working for me- except for bumping into some verb tenses I'm unfamiliar with.  Passato remoto for one. I'm still struggling over the use of Passato prossimo and Imperfetto!  You know that saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"?  Well, folks- Karen is an old dog. Trying to learn new verb tenses is just not easy.  However, determination and hard work will see me through this. I am committed to becoming more proficient.  Notice I was careful not to say fluent?

Now, the only other thing I need this week is a few words with the Patron saint of learning Italian!

Postscript added Friday morning- I know this is going to sound weird, but it's true. Last night in a dream, the identification of the Patron saint of Learning Italian was revealed to me.  Its Spiro Agnew!  I woke up shortly after that tidbit of information was divulged in the dream, so I unfortunately was unable to get back to the dream to find out if there was anything else to it.  When I told this to Mike this morning, he commented that this was surely a sign  I am supposed to turn Republican.  Sorry, but I don't agree.



14 comments:

Jon (Bilbao) said...

Learning languages is like traveling. You enjoy the process of moving from here to there as much as arriving. It looks as you really enjoy learning. You'll make it Karen, no doubt!
Good luck!

g^m said...

Karen, you'll make it. You're a natural, and you have a very active mind.
You're so positive, and it broadens your horizon so much.

Meghan Lambremont said...

Hi Karen! I'm so glad I found your blog. I am from Louisiana and I lived in Venice as an aupair from September 2005 to May 2006. What a magical city! I lived right next to Campo San Polo. What an unbelievable experience it was- I fell in love with the city but also had days where I was so frustrated with how Italians did things and just missed America. However I wouldn't give up my experience for the world. I love so many things about the Italian way of life and truly miss it! Go have a drink for me at Impronta Cafe!! My friend and I spent many nights in there. And have a sweet for me at Tonolo. :)my favorite! Enjoy your time there! Meghan

Andrew said...

You're in the best place to learn Italian, Karen. I wish I had the will power to go further. I'm still at a basic level having completed Michel Thomas' audio course ( several times!),

Geri said...

Hi Karen, again I'm so grateful I found your blog. I too have been learning Italian - for almost 5 years and just can't seem to get past the 'basic' level.

Rob C said...

Karen,

Keep at it, you'll get there x

I'm meant to speak French, but struggle with it, except in Venice, If I'm asked a question in Italian I tend to reply automatically in French!! This either solves the problem or confuses the @£$@£ out of the poor shopkeeper :-)

Linda Sue said...

Thank you so much for this post! Spiro made me laugh ! When i was in Florence for three weeks and again in Venice for five- I dreamt in Italian but could not even put one sentence together in waking life! Our neighbor from Zagreb has lived here for over 40 years and still can not speak English well nor read anything but "SALE"!
You are doing so well- I am full of admiration!
Going to Venice again in May, this time just for a quickie- ten days or so...LOVE Venice- hate the mold and the cruise ships!!!

karen said...

Linda Sue- before you come back to Venice, let me know please! Perhaps we can grab a coffee together :)

karen said...

Meghan- Grazie!!! I will happily stop in Tonolo every day for you, it's one of my favorites! How lucky were you to be an au pair here in Venice, of all places! You just about won the lottery with that gig!

Michelle said...

Keep up the good work. I'll email you with my Spiro comments.

Undercover Girl said...

Love your blog and love Venice. Will be visiting June 2-9 this spring for the fourth time. My husband and I will be staying just off Campo San Barnaba. Maybe we can meet? I am reading all the Harry Potter books in Italian to improve my comprehension. I take Italian classes here at home in Virginia. I chose these books because I have read them many times,so already know the plot. You might try reading a book you have already read in English. Kris

Undercover Girl said...

kLove your blog and love Venice. Will be visiting June 2-9 this spring. My husband and I will be staying just off Campo San Barnaba. I am reading all the Harry Potter books in Italian to improve my comprehension. I take Italian classes here at home in Virginia. I chose these books because I have read them many times,so already know the plot. You might try reading a book you have already read in English. Kris

karen said...

Kris- let me know when you are here, we should meet up for coffee or a spritz! Campo San Barnaba is such a great location- lucky you!!

Alex said...

Have you tried listening to the Italian songs? My ipod is full of the modern Italian hits, and the whole chunks of Italian stay in my head - not many words are used in the lyrics but these are the very handy ones. And such learning is much more fun and pleasure than reading textbooks. But of course it should go hand in hand with the more conventional learning. For me it's such a joy to learn new words and phrases and then realize I understand the songs that were totally incoprehensible to me just a yearr ago.