My Italian Quest | Episode #1

Learning languages is something I thoroughly enjoy doing, ever since September 2016, when I watched the movie Limitless, and saw Bradley Cooper owning French, Italian and Chinese in it.

The Movie Limitless

It got real when I saw several videos of Luca Lampariello speaking different languages in the same video. My motivation was born, the seeds got planted. Fast forward till today, I can manage decent Spanish and German, alongside my English.

Not so long ago, I’ve created my very own polyglot challenge, to reach intermediate levels in Spanish, German, Italian and French by the end of 2018. Wit two I’m so close, need to refresh my memory a bit, and Italian Quest just got off the ground.

I’m gonna document everything, hope you enjoy the story.

1st Stage Tactics

Iam no nerd. At least not a classic one. But I am sanely obsessed with doing solid bench work. No complaining, just working and being a hard critic on myself.

It’s the same with my language learning routine. I mentioned Luca above. He mastered the art of bilingual translation, utilizing Assimil books most of the time while learning. I borrowed his method.

It basically consists of following a book that contains two languages. On the left page is L2, or the language you’re learning at the moment. Not surprisingly, on the right is L1, your mother tongue or the one you already know well, such as English. The book comes with audio tracks.

Assimil — Italian with ease

The tactic itself is pretty simple. You’ll be using your ears, eyes and hands to read, listen and translate, in the beginning stage that is. The way I see it, the current state of affairs is that you don’t know shit. Most of you, me included. You have no vocabulary, you’re not that familiar with sounds and you definitely don’t have the flow to start talking.

Some polyglots disagree, but there are a 100 ways to learn a language. I’m not saying this is THE WAY. I’m saying it’s the road that suits me. It worked with Spanish and German, especially the latter, where I was heavily focused on building a word base in the first two months.

The rules are the following:

Don’t learn more than 30–45 minutes per day
Work every fucking day. Always, no matter what
Change learning spots and connect it with a ritual (mine is coffee and walking)

In terms of the game plan itself, it goes like this:

First 3 lessons I just read out loud. Three times, one lesson per day, repeating the difficult words, and always reading the previous lesson one more time. I also analyze phonetics and learn how to pronounce certain things. I try to look for patterns with the languages I already know.

How Assimil book looks like

Once I start the 4th lesson, I go back to the 1st one, and translate it from L2 to L1, meaning from the language I’m learning to English. In plain terms, what I do is 1) I read the 4th lesson for the first time; 2) Read the 3rd lesson for the second time and 3) Translate 1st lesson from L2 to L1.

It’s Luca’s way really, I haven’t invented shit. I just applied what worked for him and what works for me.

Finally, once tackling the 5th lesson, the routine goes like this: 1) I read the 5th lesson for the first time; 2) Read the 4th lesson for the second time and 3) Translate the 2nd lesson from L2 to L1 and 4) Translate the1st lesson from L1 to L2, now the other way around.

From there I think you get how it goes further. Numbers just move up.

By doing it like this, there are just enough day breaks between different lessons for me to forget and recall the words. For example, I’ll do the L1 to L2 translation of the 2nd lesson on my 6th day, having read that lesson 2 times and translated from Italian to English until that day. What I’m really doing is I’m making words stick by repeating the same lessons couple of times, in different ways (reading, listening, translating).

Finally, every 10th day, I always revisit previous lessons. Light reading or listening only, focusing on the words I have a hard time remembering.

And that’s really it. This tactic lasts for 50 days. In a row. No exceptions. By then, I’m gonna have enough vocabulary to move to the 2nd stage.

1st Stage Bonus Move

Going through the Assimil book is not the only thing I do during the 1st stage.

I also exploit podcasts on an extreme level. I’m listening to news, talk shows and music whenever I can, not really focusing on memorizing that hard or worrying about understanding everything. Few words will glue to my brain, other ones I hear will be the ones I already saw in Assimil. It usually happens while I’m eating breakfast, doing chores or while at work.

But, I do spend 15 minutes a day listening intently to a specific podcast, an interview, sport briefs or something to that extent. It’s usually a podcast, but with Italian it’s a mixture between my favorite podcast and Inter Milan related content. Big fan of Nerazzurri!

Me in my walk the podcast mode

The only trick I use in these 15 minutes is the fact that I listen to the same recording 3 days in a row. Sometimes I will rewind and mumble few words out in the open. If it’s an interview of Luciano Spalletti, current Inter coach, I will imitate him in the shower. Just a few cool lines, having translated them beforehand.

15 minute intense listening happens almost always while I’m walking, doing two cool things at once. Time is precious!

And that’s really it for the first 50 days. Nothing else happens, except work, translations, podcasts, Inter Milan, discipline and then some more work.

Resources

These are the things I’ll be using in the first 50 days of my Italian Quest. No bullshit!

Italian Assimil book in English
The following podcast
Inter Milan
Rai television and radio
Online verb conjugation platform
Google Translate
Luca’s Facebook

Advice

Learning a language needs to be fun. If you’ve ever read any of my work so far, you’ll know that I think passion is critical to having a fully satisfied life. Simply, never do the shit you hate. Just don’t do it.

If you really want to learn a language, first thing that you need to understand is your motivation. Why in God’s name do you want to learn it… Because the day will come when you’ll rather sleep for 10 days in a row, being dead tired, but you won’t do it before spending 30 minutes on your language. It’s gonna happen because of that motivation and its strength.

Secondly, connect it with the stuff you love. I love audio content, football and marketing. That’s going to heavily influence the way I learn.

Speaking of ways of learning, you got to pick a method that suits you. I could never do grammar books. Or talk from day one. Or read Harry Potter in Italian. Or change Facebook into Italian from day one. I just don’t like it and won’t do it. Instead, I’m gonna go do it my way, along with comparing patterns with people who had success with it before.

Oh, one more thing. Don’t spend time reading, speaking or listening to losers. On the contrary, use that time to learn and talk to winners. It will save you a lot of time. Luca saved me a lot of time, as I took his method, paid my respects on his Facebook page, and slightly modified his way to fit my style.

Check is in the mail!

Sirius Black — such a cool cat
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