Practicing Italian

Polishing my Italian

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 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 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.
Kids Italian

Italian Books

So far we have had two sweet Italian friends bring us books from Italy.  I will read these books to them and try to get my Italian friends to read to them when they’re here.  So grateful for their friendship!


Right now they will only listen as I read and they understand.  When they don’t understand they will ask.  I look forward to when they read them themselves.

Practicing Chinese

2017 – The year of Chinese

This year I am committing to learning Chinese.  After researching some, I am going to tackle this by using the following:
  • BOOK:  Play and Learn Chinese. Lol – yes, it’s for kids. I actually picked up this book in the Children section at Half Price Books as I was looking for Italian books for my girls. The book has the chapters divided by theme: morning routine, eating, schcool, etc.  The two things I like about this book are:  1. It has an audio CD and 2. It focuses on sentences and not just a list of vocabulary words.  After listening to language gurus like Benny Lewis, Luca Lampariello, and others, I’ve decided this is the best method for me – listening to whole sentences and repeating.  I think this is especially true with Chinese since the tones are so important. Learning the intonation of the whole sentence will be easier for me than trying to remember the intonation of each word separately. At least at the beginning. By the way, after I’m done with this book, I am hoping to get the Asimil book series.
  • APPS: Because I always have my phone, as we all do, I plan to use my downtime using these apps. 1. Chinese Skill: This is the Chinese version of Duolingo (best language app ever).  2. Tiny Cards: These are Duolingo’s cute flash cards app. 3.Line Dictionary – Chinese-English dictionary.
  • PODCAST: I enjoy listening to podcasts while I’m washing dishes or getting dressed. (Just being real – these are realistically the only times I’m not with my littles). Chinese Class 101 This podcast has a great Beginners series.
  • YOUTUBE:  I’ll be watching the channel Learn Chinese Now. These videos are very short, cute, and focused on phrases, not vocabulary.
So I will dedicate time every day to work on a lesson from the book. The apps, YouTube channel and podcast I will do throughout the day. Wish me luck!  I will check back in here to let you know how I’m doing.


Kids Italian

Italian Cartoons

Ok, so a huge component of my girls learning Italian has been watching cartoons.  No, I don’t feel like they’re watching too much TV, I figure I am going to let them watch some TV anyway, so why not in another language?  Yes, they prefer the cartoons in English or Spanish, but when the choice is Italian cartoons or no cartoons at all, it makes the cut quick.  So this is actually the second best method I like next to a native talking to them in another language.  The vocabulary is simple, it is about things they like and understand, and of course entertaining.  And most importantly, it keeps their attention for a while – I love it.  And they learn so much, vocabulary and phrases that they sometimes end up repeating to me later.
So go ahead, start your kiddos on a language.  It is as easy as going to YouTube and searching for cartoons in a different language.  YouTube has EVERYTHING, as you know.  I usually get better results when I search for the cartoon in the target language. For example, for Mickey Mouse Club House in Italian, I type in “La casa di Topolino”, so I search for that instead of “Mickey Mouse in Italian”.  It just gets better results – more cartoons. And how do I know the name in Italian?  Well because I googled it. I mean, yes I know Italian ok, but I sure don’t know what the specific cartoon names are. So google it and try it!
It’s also how YOU can get started on a new language by the way, or at least it is a great complement to your learning. Have fun!