Today on Italophilia, I’m pleased to welcome Gloria Spagnoli from SpeakIta.com. Gloria founded Speakita to share her passion for the Italian language. Originally from Pavia, Gloria loves being in touch with people and learn more about her own country- Italy!! That’s how we met on Instagram!
Let’s learn more about the Italian language from this inspiring lady and also understand from her what a false beginner is.
So tell us how and when did Speakita start??
Speakita started from my desire to share my passion for my language with people from all over the world and from different backgrounds. I love teaching and I love being in contact with people, so this was my way to do what I love in a way which feels authentic to myself.
Is Instagram your primary mode of promotion? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced??
I’m almost everywhere 😉 I’m on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest. The biggest challenge, for me, was to show myself in public. I’m a shy person, and I thought that appearing on videos was going to affect me negatively. Surprisingly, the results have been amazing, and I have received a lot of love, support and gratefulness. It really is amazing.
Can you list 5-7 things language learners GO WRONG in (attitude, learning strategy etc)
I am not a big fan of the “you did it wrong” philosophy, but I did see I few things student could improve to better succeed in their learning process. To start with, I’ve seen people sabotaging their progress by thinking they were not good enough, which caused them to feel trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Secondly, I saw students thinking they should learn a certain amount of words in order to consider themselves proficient in Italian. The problem with this belief is that languages are not a matter of numbers, and proficiency is much more than the amount of words or verb tenses that you know.
To continue with the list, another common behaviour is assuming that Italian and your first language have got the same structure. As similar as some languages can be, every language is a whole new world with its own structure and nuances. Embracing this reality can really help you move forward faster in your learning journey.
To remain in the attitude sphere, it’s quite frequent for me to see students being overly enthusiastic and wanting to move forward and forward every day. As much as enthusiam is a great ingredient for a successful language learning, we should not forget to take some time to revise what we have learnt. A good revision not only will cement your knowledge, but it will also boost your confidence when speaking.
Shifting now to the learning strategy sphere, I often see people learning new vocabulary with a translation in their first language. If you feel a little hesitant, this technique can help you feel a bit “safer” during the initial stages.
However, when it comes to learning vocabulary, associating words with pictures is much more effective than associating them to their translation in your first language.
Of course, I’m talking about concrete words. If you are more advanced and you have to learn more complex and abstract words, I recommend looking up their definition in Italian. It will help you dive more into the language and finally begin to think in Italian.
Last but not least, memorizing words and verb conjugations by heart is another common habit that I don’t recommend. This is simply because we don’t repeat lists of words and verbs when we speak. So, when you learn a new word or a new verb, the best thing to do is to try and use them within a context. You can be creative and make up sentences by using what you already know. It will allow you to revise and cement at the same time.
What’s a False Beginner??
It’s a word which I heard when I was learning French and which I decided to adopt. To me, a False Beginner is someone who has previously learnt Italian, maybe months or years ago, who still remembers the basic grammar rules and words, but struggles when it comes to speaking and listening. This is a False Beginner to me: someone who needs to brush up their previous knowledge and take a step forward to allow their spoken words to come out.
What tips would you give to readers who are learning Italian??
Goals are key when we are learning a language. So, choose your goals carefully, based on your time, energy and the level you are at. Always remember that small goals lead you to big goals, and that every little achievement deserves a celebration. Having said that, never forget to have fun and enjoy your learning.
Believe me or not, when we have fun, we learn twice.
Grazie per la tua ispirazione, Gloria! I hope I can visit your home town someday.