It ain’t easy

Having been in Italy for 10, no 11 years now, I was shocked and embarrassed to realise that my Italian has been deteriorating over the last few years. How can that be when I live in Italy? Well, I spend most of my days teaching English and we generally speak English at home. On top of that, I watch satellite tv – in English. I know I should watch Italian tv, but the local tv lineup is, to put it quite plainly, pathetic. So English it is.

This summer I decided to work on my Italian and asked my neighbour to help me. She rose to the occasion, giving me page after page of exercises to complete, and I set to with a will. I listed nouns and their plurals, masculine and feminine (one of the difficulties of Italian – everything has a gender and sometimes, the gender changes!) And of course, there are the dreaded verb conjugations.

I’m improving slowly, but my brain seems fossilised. I’m learning the truth of the language teacher’s dictum – use it or lose it! If I don’t work on the sentences every week, I forget the conjugations. SIGH! I now have a renewed respect for my students, who are learning a foreign language in an environment where they almost NEVER have the opportunity house it – but they battle on to victory most of the time.

So, what do other foreigners living in Italy do to improve their use of the language.  Do you just give up and accept that you”ll never be perfect or do you work at it every week? What’s your nemesis? Mine is the conjunctive and the conditional, not to even mention passato remoto!  What’s your secret to better Italian? Please share it with us.

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