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5 Ways to Handle Perfectionism while Learning Italian

Perfectionism and language learning do not go hand in hand. Ever since I’ve been learning Italian, I’ve addressed this topic because I am a perfectionist by nature. I focus my energy on attention to details which often hinders in my language journey. But in the past 6 months, I’ve learnt to let go- slowly, one step a time in order to improve language learning to the best of my abilities. So here are 5 ways to handle perfectionism while learning Italian…or any language!

5 Ways to Handle Perfectionism while Learning Italian

1. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes:

It is totally okay to make mistakes if you’re learning a new language. Remember to cut yourself some slack and focus less on your mistakes and more on your growth. It is okay if you mistakenly conjugated a word or if you pronounced farmacia in the wrong way.

Understand that language learning is not a race. There is no finish line because there is no such a thing as “I know this language 100%”. Think about it, even today in your mother tongue, you hear so many words that you still don’t know the meaning of. So how can you expect yourself to know every word in a foreign language and not make mistakes??

I’m learning Italian on my own, away from its origin (because I live in India) so I accept and understand the challenges. This does not mean I should justify my mistakes but it also does not mean I should beat myself up over them!!

Read Next: My Experience of Learning Italian

Trying my best to read La Repubblica

2. Let Go of the Fear of being Judged

One of the best ways to handle perfectionism while learning Italian is not caring what others say. It is so important to just speak, without the fear of being judged, otherwise your journey won’t be fun!

Let me tell you what happened with me around 4 months back.

I recorded an Instagram Story in Italian and got applauded by 99% of the locals following me. But there was one person highly critical of me, my story and my accent. I hated it and stopped making videos of me reading in Italian. Never having spoken Italian to complete strangers online, I was scared by the feedback I got. I was also angry and felt it was not fair.

But it was also not fair of me to stop doing what I loved because of what another person thought. Because accents are a part of us. It is who I am and I’m certainly not Italian. Instead of being fearful of others judging me, I learnt to let go!! I now regularly ask a friend to give me feedback for my Italian recordings. This helps me let go of perfectionism in my language learning journey.

Reading books in Italian is my new goal

3. Understand How Far You’ve Come

Another point I’d really like to highlight here is to always remind yourself how far you’ve come. There is no point comparing your journey with mine because we have had different circumstances, different ways of learning and different priorities.

What instead you should focus on is YOUR own journey!!

In 2015 I could not conjugate essere or avere.

In 2016, I was barely able to say “I’m Ishita from India”.

In 2017, I was struggling to understand lyrics of Volare.

And today?? What about 2020?? I can read books and understand 60-70% of the text, I can talk in Italian, I can watch an entire show without subtitles and understand the story, more or less. Small steps led to achieving the bigger goals/steps.

But what’s my goal?? To get rid of my fear and talk in Italian.

Ciao!! Sono Ishita, vengo da Delhi. Sono innamorata d’Italia. Di dove siete??

Perfectionsim and language learning
Wine adds a smile to friendship and a sparkle to love.

4. Consistency is Key

You’re afraid of making mistakes? Afraid of being judged? Afraid that you’ll not seem perfect?? Afraid people will laugh?? So am I! But are you doing it for them or you?? Get over yourself and keep focusing on your language learning. Be consistent and make a check on yourself after 6 months. You’ll see the difference it made!

Learning a language is a life long journey. Only after taking the plunge of starting to learn a foreign language will you realize that consistency is everything. So make small goals like recording a voice note in Italian or listening to a new song every day. Focused consistency is the key!

5. Everyday is New in Language Learning

No two days are alike, right?? So no two language learning days are alike either! Remember every day will be different, one day you might be super productive and great at learning words but the next day you may not grasp things as quickly. You will have your bad days.

Leave the strong pursuit to be “perfect” every day and instead focus on the smallest of achievements. This will also reduce anxiety and ease the brain that is accustoming to learning a new language!! Let’s do it together!

Let’s start? Cominciamo?

Further Reading:

Read more about Italophilia

5 Movies to Watch if you’re learning Italian

5 great Podcasts if you’re learning Italian

Buy these books for your language journey

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The limits of my language mean the limits of my world

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Check out my 5 language learning tips on IGTV:

35 Comments

  • […] 5 Ways to Beat Perfectionism while language learning […]

    Reply
  • LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia
    June 13, 2020 at 1:20 am

    I completely agree, perfectionism and language learning are not friends! I’ve never been one to worry about speaking or making mistakes around friends and family members. But, I would always freeze up if I had to go to a bank or shop. I still get a bit anxious in certain circumstances – but at the end of the day it’s a learning experience for future situations! 🙂

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      June 13, 2020 at 11:37 am

      Yes, true! Its hard not to feel anxious when you talk in another language. Its almost like being vulnerable.

      Reply
  • […] 5 Ways to Handle Perfectionism while Learning Italian […]

    Reply
  • Manja Mexi Mexcessive
    June 9, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    Yeahh!! Vai vai vai!

    Reply
  • Image Earth Travel
    May 23, 2020 at 4:20 am

    So true! If you’re a perfectionist at heart, then there’s no place when you’re starting out learning a language.
    How often do you stuy/practise your Italian? Daily?

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 24, 2020 at 1:03 pm

      Agree, no its very on and off. But I try to read something every other day. Or listen to music. The only problem is i’m so shy to talk but I’m letting go of that fear.

      Reply
      • Image Earth Travel
        May 24, 2020 at 6:01 pm

        Wow, that’s impressive! I haven’t done any lessons since I’ve been stuck back in Australia for the last few months. You have to swallow your pride and speak as much as you can…

        Reply
        • Italophilia
          May 24, 2020 at 7:11 pm

          You’re right!! Oh didn’t know you’re down under. How are things?? Take good care.

          Reply
          • Image Earth Travel
            May 25, 2020 at 5:29 am

            Yes, arrived early Feb and got stuck here with all our flights cancelled (of course). Just waiting now…

            Reply
            • Italophilia
              May 25, 2020 at 12:17 pm

              Oh that’s terrible! But at least you’re home 🙂 I don’t know whether you permanently stay in Calabria or no but we must meet the next time I come to Italy. Hopefully I can visit Calabria.

              Reply
              • Image Earth Travel
                May 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm

                Ah well, it’s not such a bad place to be in… 😉
                I have no idea what’s happening at the moment. I’ve been in Calabria for a few years and still have my stuff there…

  • Greeg Speck
    May 18, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    So true. After 19 trips to Italy, I am able to coverse on a basic level and hold simple conversations. I find gli itaniani are kind and do their best to converse. Some prefer to practice their English, but each trip is an extension of the language learning process.

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 18, 2020 at 7:30 pm

      Amazing Greg! So glad to know I have too faced kindness on my trips. Except for a few odd cases.

      Reply
  • Shikha Kothari
    May 16, 2020 at 6:35 am

    This a great post and very inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 18, 2020 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you Shikha 🙂 Are you learning a language too??

      Reply
      • Shikha Kothari
        May 21, 2020 at 2:09 am

        I am… I had dabbled with Italian, but now that I am in the US, I just felt Spanish would be more useful as I have some Spanish speaking friends, and a lot of times, signs are in English and Spanish. So I have started learning Spanish since the stay-at-home orders started here. I love learning a new language (as you do, I am sure), and I love to find similarities between the languages. I was amazed when i found a word that had the same meaning in spanish and in Hindi!

        Reply
        • Italophilia
          May 21, 2020 at 12:28 pm

          I absolutely get this Shikha. This is one of the best ways of knowing others cultures too. Isn’t it amazing?? Good luck for your SPanish lessons.

          Reply
  • Stacy di Anna Pollard
    May 15, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Great list! I especially relate to #3. There’s so much to learn but it’s really important to remember how far you’ve come! Sounds like you are doing a great job in your language journey. Brava! 🙂

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 18, 2020 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you Stacy! Happy that it helped. How is lockdown treating you??

      Reply
      • Stacy di Anna Pollard
        May 21, 2020 at 3:17 am

        We’re doing well in lockdown, all things considered. How about you? Hope you are well and safe.

        Reply
        • Italophilia
          May 21, 2020 at 10:28 am

          Same here 🙂 Staying indoors and a big part of me wants to keep doing that forever. I feel so wary and scared of venturing out.

          Reply
  • Staircase 9 17
    May 14, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    Such a helpful post for boosting confidence and motivation for keeping on learning – grazie mille!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 14, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      I’m very pleased it helped you. Hope the motivation lasts 😉

      Reply
  • Kelly
    May 14, 2020 at 11:06 am

    100% agree with all of these! As a teacher, I’d love to change the perception of mistakes. School makes us believe that mistakes are bad because we get marked down and get a bad grade as a result. However, mistakes are what help us learn! Now, after A LOT of reframing my mindset, I look forward to making mistakes and getting feedback because it means I’m learning.

    I was also very afraid to speak in a foreign language for a long time after living in France and people telling me more than once “you can’t speak French” and cutting off the conversation there. It was so disheartening! Italians really helped me feel confident again because most are willing to listen and cheer you on.

    Language learners for life! ❤️

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      Ciao Kelly! Language learners for life, indeed! This is the system, its everywhere then. I thought its here , engraved in our nature to go for the numbers more than understanding, to not make mistakes. Glad I’m not alone!

      Let’s keep working towards our Italian studies. xx

      Reply
  • Luke Lombardo
    May 14, 2020 at 1:00 am

    Keep up the great practice..kudos to you! Once you get here in Italy..you’ll be ahead of the game.

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 14, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Ciao Luke! You’re so kind. Thank you, I only care to have a good conversation with a local. That’s my goal.

      Reply
  • pamelaallegretto
    May 14, 2020 at 12:41 am

    Excellent article. That one critic? I say he/she was out to find fault, even where there was none. I agree with Karenincalabria, 99% approval is akin to perfection. I applaud you for taking on Italian. Your command for the English language is praiseworthy. It is a difficult language even for those of us born into it. Both my parents were Italian, and even though I have studied the language for most of my life and even worked as an teacher at Berlitz School of Languages, an interpreter, and a translator, I still error with grammar and have to look up words, as I also do with English. Keep up your studies and enjoy every minute of the journey. Tanti saluti!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 14, 2020 at 10:21 am

      Ciao Pamela! I know what you mean about Italian being a difficult language. Because I have been brought up using both Hindi and English, Italian words are not so difficult for me to understand and I’m sure you can relate. But the whole point is application of the words. I honestly keep using the same words and forget the new ones I know. Grammar is a major cause of concern for me too. We are in the same boat! I absolutely hate it and prefer speaking with the grammar I know. (Not learning anything new as of now)

      Btw it’s been so long. Lovely to see you here. How’s everything??

      Reply
  • karenincalabria
    May 13, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I would just like to point out that 99% of listeners praised you – wow! That is the lowest level of haters on the planet. I would hazard to say that it nears perfection!
    I had a flatmate during a month-long language study once whose Italian was solidly in the beginner category, but I couldn’t help but notice how she had so much more “success” in bars. She’d grunt a couple of words in a practically undecipherable Italian and she’d immediately get what she wanted. I, with my upper intermediate level, asked for something in full sentences and got shrugs and quizzical looks in return. She explained it to me. My insecurity caused me to say everything as a question. It was as if I was asking for confirmation of my grammar from the bartender who wasn’t sure if I had ordered that spremuta or not!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      May 14, 2020 at 10:24 am

      Ciao Karen. Thank you for your comment. Haha, it seems so good but for a perfectionist like me, I hated it. But I’m trying to let go slowly. I even recorded myself last week, reading a book but did not publish. I speak with a lot of ums and ahhhhhs but maybe I should record you a voice note and send on Instagram?

      Wow, the example you gave is GOLD! Undecipherable is the way to go 😛

      Reply
      • karenincalabria
        May 14, 2020 at 1:32 pm

        I always thought everyone hated their own voice, no matter what language they were speaking. What? That’s me? Mamma mia! I’m sure you are completely within the norm, but you can send me a message for confirmation. Actually, reading out loud is very good for fluency, repeating phrases and then sentences, paragraphs to get a flow.

        Reply
        • Italophilia
          May 14, 2020 at 8:00 pm

          Haha, that’s me too. I’m trying to get rid of the fear of speaking to the audience too. Piano piano. I won’t bother you on the voice note but hope you got what I meant!

          Reply

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