Olly Learns Italian – Week 1 Update

Welcome to my first video update on my Italian project!

In this post, I’ll explain everything I’ve been doing during the first seven days of the project, including:

If you’re new here, you should watch the project intro here first, where I’ll explain the aims of the project, and other useful info.

Week 1 Statistics

Italian Project week 1 statistics

I’ve been doing as much of my study as possible on LingQ, in order to track my statistics during the project. However, as you’ll see later, I have been doing quite a bit of Italian away from the platform, so the numbers you see above are conservative.

Note: You can follow my stats live on my LingQ profile.

How Have I Been Learning?

Olly reading Italian short stories

As you’ll remember from the project intro, the aim of the first month is to get as much input as possible. So if I had to characterise this first week of the project, it would be with the words “massive input”.

I’ve been focusing on spending as much time as possible listening and reading to Italian – aiming for 3 hours of study a day (with one day off – important!).

Here’s what my day looks like:

CORE STUDY TIME

First thing in the morning, during my 1-hour “core study time”, I’ve been doing focused, concentrated work. This means listening and reading along at the same time.

During this time, the activity I’m doing apart from the listening/reading is stopping to look up vocabulary I don’t understand. For the first few days, I was doing this quite a lot. As the week went on, and I realised I was starting to understand a fair bit, I started doing that less and less.

It’s not ideal to always be starting and stopping, so what I try to do is listen to something a few times without the text, just to give my brain the chance to stretch, and understand as much as possible by itself. I find that when I then go in and add the text, a lot of things click and I get some “aha moments”.

REST OF THE DAY

After my morning session, the rest of the day is a mix. Sometimes, I’ve done all three hours with audio and text together, but more often than not I’m out and about, so I get the extra two hours while walking, commuting, in the gym etc… and in this case, I’m just listening. (No reading.)

What Materials Have I Been Using?

As a beginner, I’ve had to use simplified material: [LINKS THROUGHOUT]

(I either found or imported this material into LingQ in order to track the study time.)

After the first 3-4 days, I started to experiment with authentic material, to see if I could handle real Italian.

My starting point was to look for stuff that I was really interested in. It’s the notion of compelling input.

Here’s what I found:

Needless to say, this stuff was much harder!

However, because I’m really interested in all the content, I found myself drawn to watching it. As a result, I spent more time with Italian.

Over time, I think this will become a key source of input, and hopefully, this content will lead me to more similar stuff on the internet. Don’t forget to check the resources page, where I’ll keep an ongoing record of what I’m finding.

Thoughts On My Progress

Olly in Canary Wharf

It’s difficult to do lots of listening!

It really is.

I found myself getting tired and losing concentration a lot, especially at first. You’ve also got to be strict with yourself about using all your dead time throughout the day for listening to Italian.

However, by the same token, it’s amazing just how much input you can get over the course of your day, if you’re strict about using your dead time well, and not just heading mindlessly to your favourite YouTube channel, website or podcast in English. (I’m breaking a lot of habits with this project!)

My progress has been fast. While in the first few days I didn’t understand all that much, by the end of the week, my brain seemed to have adapted, and I was following along with intermediate content quite comfortably.

Of course, my aim is ultimately to speak. So it doesn’t really matter how much I understand. I suspect it’ll be a VERY different story when I eventually open my mouth and have to speak.

If Spanish or French comes out of my mouth, that won’t cut the mustard!

I’ve also been thinking about just how different the reading and listening skills are.

With listening, you can gloss over quite a lot of detail, providing you understand the gist of what you’re listening too.

It’s when you read along at the same time that you really get to notice key details of the language – pronunciation in relation to spelling, grammatical structures, and so on.

Looking forward, I suspect that when I come to speak, reading (more than listening) will become the most impactful activity, because it will draw my attention more to accuracy in Italian.

A Note On GrammarOlly Italian grammar book

During this whole week, I’ve had tonnes and tonnes of questions about grammar…

Things I’ve seen in my texts that didn’t make sense, or that I just wanted to know more about.

However, I haven’t stopped to look up ANY grammar more than a handful of times. Three times perhaps.

Why?

Because I realise that the huge opportunity I have from this month of input, is to spend as much time with Italian as possible. As soon as I start to study grammar, it will totally change the way I study, taking time away from listening and reading, and have a big knock-on effect.

It hasn’t been easy to resist looking at grammar though. I feel a real desire to. I’ve just been trying to let the experiment run its course and stick with the input!

In month two, when I start to speak, I’ll undoubtedly have to start to look at the grammar of Italian in a lot more detail.

So far, though, I’ve just been enjoying the language.

And I must say, I’ve been having a great time!

Check back next week for the next update.

Do you have any questions about how I’ve been learning Italian? Let me know in a comment below. Want Italian-specific tips and resources that I don’t share in these posts? Sign up for my Italian newsletter below.

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