Learning Italian

28 Oct

A few years ago, knowing that my dream of traveling to Italy annually was about to begin, I began a two-year search for Italian classes. I wasn’t looking for academic credits, or a class filled with grade conscious students; rather, I wanted to join a group of like-minded adults who yearned to improve their knowledge of everything Italian –  the language, food, culture, holidays, nuances, etc. This also meant I needed to find a native Italian teacher, not someone who merely majored in the subject.

Map of the languages and dialects spoken in It...

Map of the languages and dialects spoken in Italy.

Luckily, my search finally led me to a class offered by Casa Italia in Chicago, casaitaliachicago.net.  I must admit, when I first learned of my instructor’s Greek last name, I was a bit disappointed and puzzled, until I learned it was her married name.

Simply put, Giovanna’s classes provide me with more than I had hoped for. Each session is interactive, dynamic, challenging, and filled with great camaraderie. The students, who are now all friends, share similar interests as many have Italian ancestry and connections.  Of most importance, however, is Giovanna’s desire to have us learn and understand what she teaches, not just memorize what is in the textbook.

Italian language

Italian language

My goal in studying Italian was to reach a point where I no longer felt like a tourist in Italy. And while my learning will be a lifelong pursuit, I’m now comfortable conversing with locals who speak no English at all – a great tribute to Giovanna!

I encourage anyone who has an interest in international travel to study a foreign language. The beauty of the Italian language, however, is that it does not always require the spoken word to be understood. So if learning a language is not your thing, or you find it frustrating, the Italians provide another, more simple option for communicating – namely gesturing.

Thanks to the NY Times, here is a fun and easy way to learn some Italian. Click on the link below, hover over each, and practice at your own pace!






2 Responses to “Learning Italian”

  1. Judy Sayre October 31, 2013 at 12:08 PM #

    You are so fortunate to live in a metropolitan area large enough to gather such a group…sounds like fun and an inspiration to keep learning. Thanks again for the link to the tutorial on Italian hand gestures. I talk with my hands all the time in ‘southern US English’ but occasionally wonder what my hands are inadvertently saying in Italian.


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