I feel comfortable communicating in Italian right now but I still feel that I get stuck too many times. I definitely need to polish it, so this is how I’ll be doing it:
APPS: As apprehensive as I am about this, I am about to start using my italki app. italki is this wonderful phone application that lets you connect with natives to simply chat in your target language, or connect with a native teacher to get one-on-one language lessons. Yikes! A native! That’s the part that makes me a bit nervous. And of course, you discuss with your instructors the type of lessons you want to get, and the frequency. So… I am biting the bullet and taking my Italian to the next level. I do know some Italians here in town whom I could practice with, and I have before, and they gladly comply. But I know I would probably try to meet with them more often if I felt a little more comfortable with my fluency. Also, nothing beats speaking with someone at a set time, weekly or biweekly, without having to deal with logistics. Another website/app that I always have on my computer and my phone is WordReference.com. I highly recommend Word Reference as your main on-line dictionary for any language. It is very thorough about giving example sentences with the word in question.
BOOK: I will also be regularly reading an Italian novel that my friend was so kind to also bring me from Italy. The novel I will be reading is L’Amica Geniale by Elena Ferrante. I have already started reading it and of course I do not know some vocabulary words in the novel. The method I will be using is one that Luca Lampariello uses. As I read, I will be circling with a pencil, the words that I don’t know, and drawing a line from the circle to the closest margin. After ten pages or so, I will go back and look these up on WordReference.com. After doing that, I will re-read those ten pages, now knowing the new words. Then I continue reading the book doing the same every ten pages. I am, of course, also planning to re-read the whole book after I am done. But we shall see how soon that happens -not holding my breath.
PODCASTS: I listen to News in Slow Italian. This may be more appropriate for Intermediate learners, rather than advanced, but I enjoy their chat and listening to native Italians chat about American news. I also sometimes listen to Catteland, this is a DJ from an Italian radio station. The podcast episodes are clips of this DJ talking -no songs. It is fast and furious, but it really helps to get my ear some listening/comprehension practice.
YOUTUBE: I am about to start watching the Advanced Italian Lessons from the YouTube channel Italy Made Easy. I watched a couple and I really like his breakdown of the interviews/conversations he has with his native friends.
This may seem like a bit much, especially when I am trying to pick up Chinese right now. But the way it works (or should work) is that during the day, I pick up my phone and do the apps and YouTube. I don’t do all of them every day. The podcasts, I listen to while I’m doing something else. The real commitment here will be the italki sessions and the reading of the novel. Wish me luck! I’ll keep you updated.