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My Journey Learning *and becoming* Italian (6 Months)

*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!

100 Replies to “My Journey Learning *and becoming* Italian (6 Months)”

  • Hey guys. Chances are, you don’t speak Italian and therefore this video might not make a lot of sense to you. Fortunately, English subtitles have been added for the whole video. You can either press the “CC” button on desktop or the three dots in the corner on mobile to turn them on.

    Next week I’ll be back to uploading in English but this felt like a fun challenge (I’ve never done this before) and a little bit unusual, so I went for it.

    I hope you enjoy the hand gestures. I probably overdid it but whatever, just don’t tell the Italians.

  • Benvenuto nel tuo angolino di YouTube Italia (che resta comunque enorme visto quanto piccola è la nostra community rispetto alla vostra)

  • A me sembra che il tuo italiano sia quasi perfetto, si sente che non sei italiano ma non sbagli nulla, al massimo accenti o pronucie (di rado).

  • Anch'io sto imparando l'italiano, e quindi era una grande sorpresa per me scoprire che anche tu lo fai in questo video. In bocca al lupo! 🐺

  • Questo video è stato divertentissimo da guardare! E comunque complimenti Nathaniel perché hai un ottimo italiano!

  • I had watched your first video and I was already impressed by what you had achieved. Now, however, I'm ever more impressed! Kudos to you!

    By the way: even though "confidenza" is not wrong, I would translate "confidence" with "Fiducia in se stessi" or "sicurezza".

  • I'm Italian and have been wanting to fully learn the language for so long, and your recent Italian videos have inspired me to do so! Also they're super helpful, so thank you 🙂

  • Siento q cuando hablas italiano tienes toques de acento en español en vez de un acento en inglés / un acento americano jaja q increíble q hayas logrado mantener conversaciones en italiano y hasta hacer un video en un idioma q acabas de aprender! Bravissimo!

  • Sono nato a Germania, ma tre mesi fra, ho comincato studiare a Italia. Uso il eguali metodi come tu, cosi il apprendimento diventava divertentissimo. Secondo me, si tu voui conoscere una cultura veramente, devi che imperare la lingua.
    Grazie mille, per il video!

  • I'm still trying to understand and master the english language, if I could learn another language it would be french and then learn to swear in Italian because I think there maybe a universal truth that they have the best swear words. I think that you are very fortunate to live in the Italy and learn italian it is truly the best way to learn a language.

  • incredibile come tu sia riuscito in relativamente poco tempo ad imparare una lingua così ostica. è quasi strano sentirti parlare in italiano perché hai la pronuncia di uno spagnolo ma dai enfasi alle parole come si fa con l'inglese. comunque vai tra che lo sai bene

  • I'm currently doing my exchange semester in Italy (Padova), I'm an A1 level at Italian and you're so much better than anyone in my course (except for the Spanish speaking folks ofc)…it was really nice watching this video, I was happy about every word I understood haha

  • Cool video bro. Makes me want to learn Italian, I speak Spanish so should be a little easier to pick up. Good Job 🙂

  • I absolutely love this. I am currently teaching myself Italian to connect with my family that still lives there. I live in Canada. Thank you Nathaniel. So inspiring 🥰❤️

  • Complimenti per il progresso velocissimo! 👏🏻
    Una lingua non è formata soltanto da parole ma anche da gesti, espressioni facciali, variazione del tono della voce.
    Quindi sono d'accordo che la nostra personalità "cambia" e si adatta a seconda della lingua che parliamo.
    È difficile da spiegare ma a me succede!
    Interessantissimo video, buon proseguimento!!

  • Ciao, Nathaniel! Che incredibili progressi hai fatto nella mia lingua in cosi' poco tempo: non oso immaginare la padronanza linguistica che avrai fra qualche anno. Sei gia' molto vicino a raggiungere il tono che farebbe pensare a uno straniero che sei nato e cresciuto in Italia! Quanto alla pronuncia, il mio consiglio e' di imparare la pronuncia toscana (la versione piu' elegante dell'italiano per un italiano) oppure quella lombarda dal momento che hai vissuto a Milano. Ho notato che pronunci alcune parole con l'accento del Nord, altre con un accento del Centro e altre ancora con un accento del Sud, il che rivela immediatamente a un italiano che sei uno straniero. L'italiano standard e' parlato soltanto da coloro che sono andati a scuola di dizione (attori, annunciatori televisivi, giornalisti), mentre l'italiano di tutti i giorni dipende dal luogo nel quale sei nato e cresciuto. Se impari una variante specifica dall'italiano, fra qualche anno ti scambieranno certamente per un abitante del luogo. Continua cosi' e non scoraggiarti! Sei davvero un grande e hai tutta la mia ammirazione! Grazie per la passione che dimostri per la mia lingua e per il mio Paese! Un abbraccio!

  • qualcuno può aiutarmi a praticare l'italiano con loro? mi trasferirò in italia tra un paio di mesi e vivo in california dove nessuno parla italiano hahaha
    se mi puoi aiutare sarebbe fantastico 😁

  • This video is such an inspiration ❤️

    The interesting thing is that there are some words that are quite similar to spanish, which as a native Spanish speaker I think is fascinating!

  • È increbile quanto sia avanzato il tuo livello di italiano. Conosci davvero molte parole, è increbile come le padroneggi e non le usi a sproposito. Io penso che la pronuncia e il parlare fluentemente siano importanti ma non troppo, come dice marcello. Ti consiglio di focalizzarti sul modo di comporre le frasi, il passo avanti è cercare di non tradurre direttamente, ma usare le espressioni tipiche della lingua. Ed è una cosa che non ti insegna nessun libro, ma che puoi imparare solo ascoltando e leggendo tanto. Lo dico perché ho lo stesso problema in inglese, imparo tante parole ma non la composizione (non basilare) delle frasi, e cerco di ascoltare tanti video in inglese per imparare. Tra i video che ascolto di più ci sono sicuramente i tuoi, sono davvero interessanti. Ora che vai via dall'italia non scordarti l'italiano,continua a fare tanta pratica !

  • Ive recently started studying French and this video got me so hyped and inspired! Thank you for such positive content

  • When you published your learning italian in a week video I was just starting to learn it because I was going to study in Italy for 3 months. Now Im 15 days away of going back to my country and can speak waaaay better than 6 months ago. Your italian is better than mine by miles, but Im happy we had a somewhat parallel development. Love this video and how you are letting yourself have more fun with it.

  • I teach Italian online and your channel has become one of my favorites! 🙂 I will recommend it to my students!!!
    Nella lista delle persone da seguire per migliorare avrei inserito lo youtuber Guglielmo Scilla e come cantanti Cesare Cremonini <3

  • Hi! I really liked how you decided to put a video in another language. I've been learning french for about five years and I can definitely agree with you that it takes a long time to see results, especially when you're not immersed with the language and culture all the time. I would say that my level of french is a little under your level of Italian, and I wanted to ask, how are you able to continue learning languages regularly besides being in the country? Because I'd like to continue learning french. Second thing, I am basic level in polish (I am half polish) and I've started teaching myself the language a few years now, I found it difficult to balance language learning with my schedule but I'm willing to try and implement it again until I reach a level of polish that you are with Italian. How do I find polish youtubers or social influencers like you've done with Italian youtubers? What sort of activities do you do when learning grammar and vocab? Do you learn online or by books or both or by people? Besides Duolingo, what other resources would you suggest for language learning? I also really struggle speaking in polish because I'm scared of messing up, do you have any suggestions to mitigate that? Thanks!

  • I’m Italian and I’ve gotta say you’re accent is really impressive! You’ve done a great job!!!! Keep up the good work 😀

  • Nate ti stimo tantissimo. Ti seguivo anche prima del tuo avvicinamento alla lingua italiana e sentirti parlare la mia stessa lingua mi fa strano, ma sei bravissimo! Keep it up!

  • Ti seguivo da prima che imparassi l'italiano! Complimenti per i tuoi contenuti e per esserti cimentato a imparare l'italiano, sappiamo che non è una lingua facile e come ha detto bene Marcello gli italiani provano un senso di fierezza nel sentire uno straniero che da così tanta importanza alla propria lingua, quindi non preoccuparti e sii disinvolto il più possibile!

  • I hope I can do something like that someday. I would like to learn Arabic like that.
    More videos in foreign languages, please!

  • Ciao Nathaniel, ti consiglio caldamente di vedere tre video molto simpatici e completi sui gesti e la mentalità degli italiani, hanno solo un difetto: sono girati quasi interamente in inglese da un ragazzo italiano e da un irlandese, ma passaci sopra, vedrai che saranno molto istruttivi e divertenti

  • Devi andare fiero del tuo livello di italiano: sei al punto in cui hai abbastanza strumenti per capire dai tuoi errori (che sono comunque pochi!) e concentrarti sul migliorare le piccolezze.
    Hai già un vocabolario ottimo, e anche la sintassi. Sono sicura che appena affinerai piccolezze come le doppie (tranquillo, sono un problema anche per molti nativi) e qualche altro "idiom" sarai a cavallo (ecco, ti ho appena regalato un idiom, in caso tu non lo conosca ancora 😂).
    Davvero, complimenti.

    P.S. menomale che ci hai messo De André nella lista della musica che hai ascoltato, va' 😂

  • Io ti adoro hahaha
    Ti seguo da un sacco e sapendo che hai imparato la lingua in così poco tempo (complimenti davvero), sentirti dire “scialla” e “vai tra” è fantastico 😂
    Comunque, sono un sacco d’accordo con quello che dicevate tu e Maurizio: da italiana, vedere uno youtuber come te, che in un certo senso associo al mondo lontano e intoccabile degli youtuber parlanti inglese, seduto accanto ad uno di YouTube Italia è davvero una sensazione strana… hai realmente creato una connessione tra due mondi che sembrano sempre così distanti!
    Sarebbe fantastico se questa cosa fosse più diffusa, questo video è una gran fonte di ispirazione 💕

  • I'm excited to find out where your journey takes you next. Also – your subtitles are written really well, even though I don't speak Italian, I felt like I could really follow what you were trying to say, jokes and all. I wish subtitles in movies were written this way.

  • The part that he says ur personality somehow changes when you speak italian .I totally support that.BCause I feel that too.and you said you like living there cause its a sort of new chance to start from zero where no body knows you,oh,thats an opportunity of lifetime.I would love to exprience being a new me in a new environment

  • sembra che sai alcune parole che io non so essendo un nativo della lingua. anche se sono andato a vivere in Australia quando avevo 4 anni, e` sempre molto impressionante.

  • Bravo! I'am an Argentinian dude who once tried to learn Italian. I learnt that formal instruction leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to learning languages. You have inspired me to give Italian a try, but this time with a more natural approach.

  • “Sono piccolo, peloso e parlo con le mani” .. infatti la prima volta che ho visto un tuo video ero convinta tu fossi Italiano, ma parlavi troppo bene inglese per essere davvero italiano. Comunque ora parli bene! Su torna in italia che ti passo a trovare! 🙂

  • I’m also currently learning Italian, thanks for the sources you used to study but I guess I now also have your channel! I hope you make more videos speaking Italian, your progress is inspiring!

  • Ciao! Sono Americana ma e sono andata nel'Italia per la prima volta un mese fa! Sto ancora imparando l'Italiano ma sono d'accordo. La lingua è bella ed è una cosa molto bella di potere parlare con gli italiani nella loro lingua. Gli Italiani stavano molto felici quando hanno scoperto che sono Americana ma posso parlare un po' di Italiano. Fra mesi, o anni, spero che posso tornare a quel bel paese e spero che potrò parlare l'italiano tutto il tempo che sono lì.

  • Tried watching it on Italian with the Italian subtitles to start practicing the language. Going to Italy for the first time at the end of the month! Eccitante!

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