I am learning Italian: an interview with Anthony Amiksak

 

Thank you very much for the interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
In 2006 I sold my independent bookstore (Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, California) to a long-time employee. With the sudden freedom from stress and hours in my office I decided to pick up my Italian from where I had mislaid it; and also to devote more time to playing my cello in chamber music groups, workshops, and the local orchestra. I’m having a great deal of fun these days.
What made you decide to learn Italian?
That is always the first question, and the most difficult. A bunch of factors. I got a “D” in college, and I’ve always sort of laughed about that. Then, years ago, traveling inEurope, I quickly discovered the most friendly and outgoing and patient people when I tried to speak a few words of their language consistently were the Italians, throughout the country. In recent years I’ve made Italian a real study. I’m trying to get my grammar correct while at the same time learning to listen and speak relatively fluently.
What do you think of the language?
You mean la bella lingua? Meraviglioso! I first heard it in music — allegro, vivace, tenuto; then the operas of Mozart, then the truck drivers of northernItaly. How can one not love this tongue?
What do you find interesting in learning Italian?
First and foremost for me, it’s a challenge to get it right, and it’s a never-ending challenge. There’s always more to learn and practice. As I get better, new worlds open up — I can understand some Italian TV, and people on the bus in Bologna, a law student at lunch.
What is the most difficult aspect of learning Italian?
Two things — obscure but useful verb tenses, and understanding native Italian spoken at speed. Oh yes, also pronouns.
How do you improve your Italian? Are you studying by yourself or are you taking lessons?
It’s a bunch of things. I’ve been working with Martina weekly now for about two years, and I’ve never felt better supported or better taught. Also, I do grammar review on my own; listen to Italian audio; translate and read news articles from the web; and meet with a local group of Italophiles who are studying the language together.
Have you any suggestions/tips for others learning Italian?
Find a good teacher, a native speaker who knows how to teach like Martina. Take your time, and don’t worry — non ti preoccupare. With time and exposure it will come to you. And as you learn something in the language, the next thing becomes a bit easier. If you can, spending time in Italy surrounded by Italians, not people who speak your own language, is a big help as well as incentive.
What level would you like to reach?
I don’t really have a limit — eventually I’d like to be completely fluent in Italian. Wish me luck. In bocca al lupo, as one says.

 

I am learning Italian: an interview with Charlie Hew

 

Thank you very much for the interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure. I am Charlie Hew, 54 , an australian doctor with a passion for  the Italian and French culture and language. I am doing a Bachelor of Languages, externally with UNE. I am married, with 4 children, with all of them able to speak another language besides English. My wife, also speaks French and Italian, and as a matter of fact is doing the same degree, externally.
What made you decide to learn Italian?
As I said, I have a passion for European languages and combined with my love of travel, learning Italian was just a natural progression.
What do you think of the language?
I love its musical quality, and how one can express so much passion when speaking the language.
What do you find interesting in learning Italian?
It is the whole experience of the culture, the people, and  their personalities which comes from just learning a foreign language.
What is the most difficult aspect of learning Italian?
Coming from the angle of learning the language as an external student, the actual oral production of the language is the most difficult. The opportunity to speak the language with native speakers is often difficult , and hence the Skype lessons with Martina is a great boost.
How do you improve your Italian? Are you studying by yourself or are you taking lessons?
I try to dedicate some time every day to study and have just started listening to the Italian news online. Of course, the weekly lesson with Martina on Skype  is essential to keep you honest and I listen to Italian podcasts whilst I drive to work.
Have you any suggestions/tips for others learning Italian?
Lessons with an Italian teacher on Skype, private lessons at local university or language school and daily contact with the language, even if it is only for 5-10 mins. I feel consistency is the key to fluency.
What level would you like to reach?
Like the dream of any language student, to speak like a native speaker!