My Journey Learning *and becoming* Italian (6 Months)
December 8, 2019
*Tries to say “nice to meet you” in italian and fails* This is me, six months ago, trying to say something in Italian. I decided I wanted to be able to speak this language well I had attempted doing this before, but I never had enough confidence to have an entire conversation with someone. But this time was different, I tried to learn as much as possible in just one week and I documented the process. My thinking is that learning a foreign language should be something fun and exciting, and not the horrific experience everyone had in school. This challenge was the push I was looking for, and for the first time in my life, despite it being difficult, I could at least express myself. I could construct complete thoughts in Italian. Dante’s and Leonardo da Vinci’s language was coming out of my mouth… Avoja! *roman slang for ‘hell yeah’*. But I knew I couldn’t stop there. My journey with this language was really just beginning. Speaking Italian well enough to be able to use it with people, was still a far off objective for me. But I was clear on what I wanted to achieve. People think that learning a new language has to take up a lot of time and energy… And look, learning a new language isn’t easy, but more than that, being consistent is key. I only needed a few minutes a day to learn
new words, watch something – like a youtube video for example – or write in Italian I just kept practicing (because I’m super stubborn), even though it was – and still is – very frustrating at times and little by little, I was able to get better. And then, at the beginning of September, I began a 3 month stay in Italy. People have always told me I look like I’m Italian: I’m short, hairy and I talk with my hands. So, stereotypes aside, I had to see things for myself, I came to see what it means to live like an Italian. So this is my journey learning the Italian language. Okay, let’s do this: I’ve already made two videos about my process when starting out with a foreign language, so there are going to be links to those videos in the description box. Otherwise, my philosophy is basically that learning a new language is a marathon. You have to keep practicing: Input, every day. There’s no secret, you simply have to keep adding to your vocabulary. Little by little, starting from the most important words, as I did at the beginning, to fill the gaps. You absolutely have to listen to how people speak, to learn common sayings, expressions, grammar… The purpose of this video is to show that this process can be quite long and slow. There are some resources I wanted to share with you, whether you’re a “foreigner” wanting to learn Italian, or Italian looking for new content in Italian. They’re resources I’ve used myself. And I wanted to take this moment to repeat that I still struggle a lot. Obviously, in making this video, I’m only showing the cool moments, people that’s called editing, because I’m editing. And yeah, there’s plenty of moments when I tell myself “Wow, what an amazing language this is,” and that I just like it. That I just like everything about it. But there’s still plenty of moments even now, when I think, “jeez, I can’t stand this damn language anymore,” that I’m not able to say anything right. Like for example, only the other day a friend told me that “incredibile” isn’t pronounced “incrediBBile” but “incrediBile” I was pronouncing a “doppia” (when you have two consonants next to each other in Italian) when I shouldn’t have, And I was like, I’m an idiot! Learning a foreign language isn’t easy. Listen to how I spoke during my first few days in Italy: “Have you come…. to Milan today? …. I think… tomorrow, that way I can deal with it without… “concerns.” Is it a word? Concerns? I think so, right? Ok, so, anyway, therefore, consequently. *I’m being completely obnoxious* Here I am with my friend Giuseppe. Right now we are both in Milan, and I wanted to update you on my progress. about my progress I spent… What am I trying to say here? Wait.. I spent nearly a month here in Italy. Obviously, I’m still learning Italian However, it’s not just “proper Italian” but also “spoken Italian” (how people actually talk on the streets). I’ve learned a few new words already, like CHILL, BRO Like… “Pig God.” (this is pretty much one of the worst things you can say in Italian, and there is no translation in English). What do I need to do to become even more Italian? The accent? The way you talk? Exactly, how I improve my way of speaking. These are things that, with time, you make yours. Your ear (figuratively) learns to recognize these little things and helps you integrate them into how you speak. You have to, how do you say, “dissect” Does this word exist? It’s the second time that you do that. “Idiomatically.” Yeah. (I have no idea what he’s saying). And not translated like with Google Translate. “Idiomatically.” Do you really speak with your hands? Do people actually do this? No, you do this to little kids when.. Yeah, right. You do this to kids when they are eating, to say: “It’s tasty”. Do you know other gestures? I can’t believe it. You are impossible! Even in English, I still struggle Yeah, it’s just that, you can reach a determined level in which you can say: “Well, I speak Italian, fluently.” Really- To try to speak (100%) perfectly, is really a goal that does harm it does harm. Because it isn’t possible, speaking perfectly isn’t possible. (There’s no such thing as perfection is what I’m trying to say here). Yeah, no it’s true, but still you can always seek to improve. If you ask yourself: “How am I speaking?” “Did I use that word correctly? Did I used the right expression?” You’re obviously going to, like, you lose… How should I put this? You lose… Confidence. Yeah, your confidence. You don’t speak Italian well. I wanted to use another word like “subscription”.. right? (Giuseppe used the wrong word for this the last time we talked). “Subscribe.” (this should be iscrivetevi). Can you speak, for a while, like me? (I’m asking him to imitate how I speak). It’s hard… to do… Nathan’s accent. I don’t know… really know…what to say. Do I really speak like this? Yes. The reason is.. I suck at this. When I did this challenge. Challange. (correct pronunciation) What did I say? Challenge. Challenge. (still wrong) Good Goat! (in Italian this has a negative meaning, it’s like saying “sheeple”), ignorant! (we’re referencing a famous political commentator). Hello guys, it’s raining now so I don’t know for how long we’ll be able to record here. I’ve spent a little more than half of my time here I didn’t write anything down, I didn’t write a text before doing this, because I really wanted to show how I can speak now and also share a few thoughts of my experience here so far. It’s been so much fun living here this time because I can at least understand what happens around me. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Italy in the past, a couple of times but I couldn’t speak Italian, so that was a little different, you are a tourist and obviously I am still a tourist but this time I can at least make some friendships and practice, see if I can talk Italian with Italians. I really enjoy saying ‘vai tra’ (relax, dude – Italian slang). It makes me laugh. What else did I want to add.. It’s interesting to see the connection between confidence and speaking a (foreign) language well. So many people tell me, “alcohol helps a lot!” but in my opinion, it’s not because it makes it you smarter because alcohol doesn’t do that. (lol) More than anything, I think it’s that with alcohol, you lose this fear of making mistakes I’ve come to realize that it is not possible for me to truly master Italian during my time here. I’m going to need to continue with this language for a long time. English is everywhere. Escaping English has become very difficult. And it makes sense, my job is in English Everyone writes to me in English It’s beautiful isn’t it? It’s beautiful to be able to speak the international language so, I’m not complaining, But, if you really want to learn another language it gets a little complicated Another piece of advise I wanted to share: For example when I hear an expression that seems important to me Like for example ‘per forza’ (it means necessarily, adding to the idea that something really has to be done). Everyone uses ‘per forza’ When I discovered this expression I wrote it down, and then I started using it every time I could add it in my sentences. Like for example… I really have go to the supermarket. It becomes like a game because you are using these expressions and it starts to become a part of your vocabulary. I hope I’ll be able to improve my Italian a bit more during this last month that is left… I guess we’ll see. Ok, we’re here, I’m here with Marcello, a friend of mine here in Italy First of all, I’d like to take a moment to say how astounding I find the world in which we live in. Simply because I published something on instagram saying I was in Milano… you reached out to me, and here we are, right? We are here thanks to what we do on the internet I always think about our grandparents, when they had to travel what did they do? Besides instagram, no google maps or anything like that, we live in a different world, so much easier. Exactly, exactly, and I find it incredible because all of this happened.. I believe you discovered my channel thanks to my video in Italian, right?
Yes I published a video of me, just trying, I couldn’t speak properly but trying to speak this language you discovered me, you reached out to me, and here we are in this moment, making this video. Ok, so it’s strange, because I always saw Youtube in America as something that you can’t reach, unattainable, so I thought of you as the guy who has made videos on Youtube, I had seen the video on cold showers, I had seen other videos about habits about the way you organize your life.. and I liked them but I never thought you could come to Milano because you were in Mexico, and when you arrived i thought damn this is the first time a YouTuber comes to live in Milano I have to meet him, i have to ask him what he does, how he does it.. And you know what? It’s interesting you say that because I had exactly the same the same feeling when I would think about Youtube Italy, let’s say and not knowing how to get in touch with you guys. Because what do you do when you can’t even understand what they are saying. It’s another country that you don’t know well (or at all) I wasn’t born here, I wasn’t raised here… but simply the fact of learning this language created a bridge in a way. If you didn’t speak Italian we might’ve still met, Yeah because you did write to me in English. Yes, but it would’ve been more difficult, especially for you it would’ve been more difficult for you to meet all the other people in Italy that don’t really make an effort with English. Plus it’s different, if you speak Italian, Italians will recognize the importance you’ve given to the language they are proud, they are happy that you have learned Italian they feel closer to you. I’m thinking if you ask for directions to an Italian on the street and speak in Italian they will be much more likely to respond positively. Of course. When I see your videos in English and when I hear you speaking in Italian I feel like I’m hearing two different people speak.. as if the Italian Like my personality? Yup. It’s different? Even now? Yup, it’s as if the Italian language changes your personality a bit. This is the feeling I have when I see your videos in English or when I hear you speak in English.. More serious right? You’re more serious perhaps because you have a better mastery of the language, but that is not the point. You are more.. you seem more American to me and when you speak Italian you seem more Italian to me. The reality of speaking Italian and living here has been an opportunity for me to begin from zero. because no one really knows me, or put another way, no one knew me when I arrived here and there’s a certain freedom there to do what you want to do. We were recording a video for you And you told me that it doesn’t matter, the fact that you are speaking Italian.. Is already a lot. Being an American, you don’t really mind when i make mistakes. Exactly, it doesn’t matter, An Italian, hearing an American that speaks in Italian, in his language even if he doesn’t speak it perfectly, it’s a beautiful thing. Well, guys, I hope you liked it. My time here in Italy is ending but still, there are other things, about my stay here, that I wanted to show you. Unfortunately I couldn’t put it all in one single video. This is starting to get a little long. So there won’t exactly be a part 2 to this, but I will upload something to follow this up pretty soon. I think it will be in English. Anyway, it was a pleasure. Thanks a lot for watching my journey. Subscribe if you want, see you later!