Learning a new language becomes interesting when you have inspiring people around. My friend Linda Martinez, who runs the Roman hostel “The Beehive”, learnt Italian when she moved to Rome two decades ago. She shares her story of learning Italian and tells us more about her hostel! Welcome, Linda!
Ciao Linda! Welcome! Tell us how The Beehive started??
Hi everyone! My husband Steve and I got married in September 1998 after a long and tumultuous relationship. Part of our “master plan” had always been to leave the US and live internationally, but we just didn’t know how we would go about doing it or what we would do and so we came up with a lot of half-baked ideas. We spent part of our honeymoon in Rome and stayed at a hotel/hostel that Steve used to work at a few years before. That’s when the idea came to us of creating our own hostel in Rome. And 8 months later we opened the doors to The Beehive on 11 May 1999.
Before we move further I have to say that both Linda and Steve have a passion for community building, environmental friendly and ecological goods. The two also support all things organic!
Did you know Italian beforehand?? How was your experience learning in the first few months??
I had taken Italian for 2 semesters at Santa Monica Community College a few years before we moved to Italy, but sadly had not retained any of it. However, my family is Puertorican and Spanish was my first language and since Italian and Spanish are very similar, I felt comfortable in Italy despite not knowing the language.
I took a two week course at Torre di Babele at its former location on Via Bixio in Rome, but the course was frustrating as it was filled with a group of students who had no interest in learning the language (have no idea why they were there!) and they were very disruptive.
After that course, I came into contact with an Italian language tutor, and now good friend, Andrea Viviani, who tutored me privately for a while. At that point though, I was a new mother and so my Italian language learning took a backseat. I’ve learned the rest of my Italian on my own which I have to say, probably isn’t the most effective way to learn a language.
That must be tough.. Any tips you’d particularly like to share with the readers learning Italian??
It is. You need to find a method that works for you whether it’s in a group if you are an extroverted sort or privately by tutor if you prefer one on one. Both have their pros and cons and you might want to try both initially to see which works best for you. Stick with whichever method works and keep with it and keep learning! That was my problem, I reached a certain level of fluency and comfort and then stopped. This was a mistake because while I have a grasp of the language, I am by no means at a high level of proficiency in Italian and I make a lot of mistakes, basic mistakes too.
It’s difficult to go back, but I do have a friend who has a wonderful YouTube channel -Lucrezia Oddone – Learn Italian with Lucrezia and she has inspired me to want to hire a private Italian language tutor again to expand my vocabulary and improve my grammar. It’s never too late!
I agree it’s never too late, Linda! The story of Linda and her challenge in the language despite being in Italy is realistic.
Contrary to popular belief, learning a language in the home country is equally challenging and something I really wanted all of you to know!!
Grazie mille carissima per la tua ispirazione!
If you are in Rome, stay at The Beehive. There are dedicated evenings for storytelling sessions and tons of cooking classes! As you can understand, The Beehive is a place made with a lot of love and the whole foundation of community is evident as soon as you enter.
Follow Linda on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Let me and Linda know how this post inspired you??
AbbieMarch 6, 2019 at 6:12 pm
How is this the first time I’m seeing this article! Loved it, I’m sharing it in my newsletter today!
ItalophiliaMarch 16, 2019 at 3:34 pm
Thanks so much for sharing this bella 🙂
mickeypamoAugust 31, 2017 at 2:17 am
I will check out Lucrezia Oddone . . . what a dream to retire to Italy. Roma, Firenze, Sienna, Capri. I spent a year with my ex late husband and son in Rome. He was an art historian, so of course knew Italian. My son went to a rather international school, so he got a rudimentary knowledge. I finally broke out of my American only solitude and went back to dance. Made a fool of myself many a time, but I got some of it.
IshitaAugust 31, 2017 at 11:02 am
You must she is brilliant 🙂 its good to do fun things even if you make a fool of yourself thank you!
pbenjayAugust 21, 2017 at 10:35 pm
I’m so glad I read your post today, I needed that inspiration to continue studying Italian. I will definitely check out the Lucrezia you tube. If only my grandparents would have taught us BUT no! They used Italian when they didn’t want us to know what they were talking about.
IshitaAugust 21, 2017 at 11:02 pm
I am glad you did too. We keep faltering but we got to pick ourselves up. Sigh. Doesn’t sound motivating but hope you can pick it up. How much do you know??
Un po' di pepeAugust 18, 2017 at 4:55 am
i have recommended the Beehive to many people over the years, but haven’t stayed there myself since i stay at my friend Anna’s place when i am in Roma-even if she isn’t there. i have not met Linda personally, although we know a lot of people in common, and i did meet and photograph her bambini quite a few years ago at a performance of the Miracle Players! I will have to meet her one of these days! Ciao, Cristina
IshitaAugust 19, 2017 at 10:59 am
I hope you can meet Linda one of the days. It is amazing how many friendships Italy has given us..xx
HelsinkiBudapestAugust 18, 2017 at 3:12 am
I can so relate to what Linda said about learning Italian and getting comfortable. I took one class with my mom, because she loves Italy, and I always had friends from there, plus I really liked the country and its people. And everyone took me for an Italian when I was there. Took another class with the same teacher, then private lessons. Got good enough to be fluent and talk to my boss’s wife, who spoke only Italian. Didn’t develop, and stopped going to Italy. Moved to places where there were few Italians, so forgot everything. Trying to learn again now by talking.
Linda’s comment about Spanish and Italian being so close reminded me of a funny story. We were supposed to move in into our new apartment in Jersey, the previous occupant was moving out earlier, so the realtor suggested we talk to him in person. He didn’t speak English though. But qgen my dad heard he was Puerto Rican, he started talking to him in Italian (my dad was always secretive about how he acquired Italian, but he spoke it pretty well). The man answered him in Spanish, my dad told me in French, and I translated it all back to the realtor. My dad spoke six or seven languages, but English wasn’t one of them.
IshitaAugust 19, 2017 at 11:01 am
That is wonderful story about talking in 3 languages!! Haha!! so similar it can all be.. but regarding your Italian, I guess its all about trying to practice a little every day. It is not easy especially if you are far from the country but it isn’t impossible….Even if you moved, you can still learn from your mom or listen to music. xx
HelsinkiBudapestAugust 20, 2017 at 1:28 am
I’ve been doing that with other languages. So, ashamed to say, laziness just got the better of me. Even more cause for shame, I tell my students the exact same thing you just said. 😄Do as I say, not as I do, obviously. 🤣🤣🤣
LisaAugust 16, 2017 at 8:42 pm
Learning Italian is at once inspiring and terrifying. When I am nearing sleep the words float around in my head. I speak Italian brilliantly. However when I wake, it all vanishes. When we are at our home in Italy there are many opportunities to speak as our town is small and most people do not speak English. I think it is my fear that is getting in my way. I have heard of the Beehive and take my hat off to these two young people who have followed their dream.
IshitaAugust 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm
Hi Lisa!! Very true. Terrifying is the right word and just like you I speak brilliantly in my dreams..;) Btw I hope you can visit The Beehive soon…xx
timewithlymeAugust 16, 2017 at 5:48 pm
We were just in Rome at the end of July! I wish I had known about this place sooner…I would have loved to have stayed there! Bees and protectecting are very big here in the United States…and Lyme sufferers like to use bee venom to help combat their symptoms! Thank you for sharing this post. I am going to look into that YouTube channel as well…I know simple words in Italian, but my years of French study confuse me when I am trying to talk in Italian!
IshitaAugust 16, 2017 at 6:01 pm
Oh well there is next time always 🙂 You will love Lucrezia’s channel. Very thoughtful videos and beginner to intermediate as you grow with your Italian. I am sure learning two similar languages has its disadvantages as well as advantages
thatanxioustravellerAugust 16, 2017 at 3:16 pm
The Beehive sounds wonderful! Hoping I might be booking a trip to Rome soonish. I can also vouch for the YouTube channel she mentioned.
IshitaAugust 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm
Thanks dear. Yes me too. Lucrezia is a wonderful teacher and a great person who I met in Rome last yr.
LynAugust 16, 2017 at 2:02 pm
When I first heard about The Beehive from you Ishita I was intrigued and now I want to stay there. It sounds great
IshitaAugust 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm
When is the next trip to Rome Lyn?? You know where you got to book 🙂 they have a ton of apartments too
LynAugust 16, 2017 at 2:43 pm
No plans at this stage Ishita. I will email you soon
IshitaAugust 16, 2017 at 5:59 pm
Looking forward 🙂
amindfultravellerblogAugust 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm
Lovely to meet Linda. I truly believe to learn a language you need to be immersed and exposed to it daily. It is so easy to forget when you are not practicing on a daily basis. That’s why I love it when we are in Italy….it all comes back to me. 🙂
IshitaAugust 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm
Absolutely yes. It’s hard when you are not in that country but I feel we can do a little every day. Like watching movies or listening to music xx
amindfultravellerblogAugust 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm
Definitely. Surrounding ourselves with the language is very important.
Enjoy the rest of the week. X
karenincalabriaAugust 16, 2017 at 11:33 am
Nice post. I’ve heard very good things about the Beehive. I just wanted to add to Linda’s comment regarding disinterested and disruptive students in her language class. Of course, it can happen anywhere, but I’ve studied at many intensive language schools in Italy, Germany and Austria (including Torre di Babele, which I found to be a very good school – and I’ve also studied German in this manner, obviously), and I strongly recommend not signing up for summer classes. They’re larger and there are more drunken college-age students in them. Also, with more advanced levels, there are fewer of those types just hanging out on their parents’ nickel.
IshitaAugust 16, 2017 at 1:46 pm
Many thanks on your thoughts, Karen. You are right. I’m going through a similar phase. I stopped classes and started self study. The large batches don’t suit me.. I’m motivated enough that Ive even decided to teach basic Italian in Delhi and people like you and Linda inspire me. Just promised myself not to get lazy and keep going even if a little every day xx
GastradamusAugust 16, 2017 at 10:38 am
What a warm lovely place to stay. It’s amazing the connections we make online and how cool to have met your friend that you had once met from blogging. Would truly be an excellent place to travel.
Would love your feedback on my new short story called PHONESTRUCK, come on by and leave a comment and I will be more than happy to promote your blog. Hope to see you there
IshitaAugust 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm
Thank you!! As they say it’s the people that make a place. The Beehive is a testament to that. I’ll check the story tonight xx
GastradamusAugust 16, 2017 at 9:09 pm
Thank you so much, I look forward to it