Why can’t I speak better Italian???

Florence Italy's Ponte Vecchio

I guess I should rephrase the title of today’s blog to “Why can’t I speak Italian at all??” I love languages. I learned French in school and have had varying success at speaking it. Currently I’m functional with French, but far from the near fluency that I had when I was 25 years old.

And then there is Italian. What a beautiful language and I owe my drive for speaking Italian to my husband Max. He was born and raised in Italy. He speaks English quite well, but when we first started dating and going out we’d go out with his Italian friends and I understood absolutely nothing that they said.

I had been in this situation once before when I dated a Croatian guy during my days of living in Switzerland. Our common language was French and we’d go out with one of his friends at least once a week and they always spoke in Croatian. It drove me crazy!!

It wasn’t time for repeats on language barriers for me!! Soon after I decided that our relationship was going somewhere I enrolled in an Italian class. I was never a great student in school, but at 30 years old and studying just one subject I was an “A” student. My first class was a night class with other professionals. I learned the basics and did quite well. I would go to the beach with my textbook and study, study, study. My boyfriend, and now husband, even accompanied me to class once here. After that first Italian class I took a break.

I can’t remember what happened, but some time passed before I returned to school. This time I went to the community college and decided to start over from Italian 1. Here we were required to take a language lab once a week as well. I excelled once again at Italian!! I was so happy and proud. In Italy I could have simple conversations with his “nonna”, (grandmother), “zia”’ (aunt), and “cugino fidanzata” (cousin’s girlfriend). Everyone else in Max’s family speaks English well so I never had to extend myself too much.

In Italian 2 I was improving my verb tenses and doing little presentations in front of the class, receiving “A’s” on my exams and final score, and then it all ended. I was pregnant with my daughter Malina at the time and once motherhood arrived my focus on learning Italian ended. We didn’t practice at home and slowly I forgot how to say almost everything.

During our last trip to Italy my Italian sucked. I could buy stuff in the store, hold a very basic conversation, understand a lot, but it ended there. Currently I have an Italian language partner at the university that I work at and we get together a few times a month to practice. I see that I still have some of the language skills from Italian 2 stuck in my head, but it’s so far from before. My husband and I hold full conversations in Italian for 10 or 15 minutes at a time a few times a year. He does speak short phases to the kids and I on a regular basis.

I don’t know if I will ever speak Italian or improve from where I stand now. With that said I do teach the kids some basic Italian. I would hope that I could do a blog in another 200 days saying something had changed and my Italian has improved, but I won’t hold my breath. I can say that I understand spoken Italian and can answer back in English… and for that I have to say it’s better than where I started.

Topic tomorrow: It’s time to get ready for Christmas!

(day 13)


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