IWTYAL 176: Is now a good time to learn another language?

Denise asks: “Is now a good time to learn Italian?”

Episode Summary:

Resources Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Today's Quote:

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” —Vincent van Gogh

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Full Transcript:

Good morning, everybody, and welcome back to the I Will Teach You a Language podcast. This is the place that you need to tune into twice every week. Every single week, two new episodes about language learning. If you're learning a language and you want to know how to do it better, you're in the right place. Maybe it's not your first rodeo. This is the situation that today's question touches on. Before we get to that, I'd like to thank the sponsors of the podcast, who are Italki. Italki, which is spelled I-T-A-L-K-I, quite a cool name, they have professional language teachers from all over the world. Whatever language you're learning, they have a teacher for you. If you'd like to get a free lesson, you can go to IWillTeachYouALanguage.com/freelesson.

Without any further ado, let's hear from Denise.

Hello, Olly, I'm Denise from Brazil. How are you doing? I sent you a message last year and I'm here again, because I have another question to make. I really, really, really want to learn a third language. I was thinking about Italian, but I'm not fluent in my second language yet, English. So, I would like to know if I should or not start to learn another language, because I know that I will have to make a lot of effort to learn the basic things and to go to the intermediate level and so on. Could you help me with that? Thank you.

Hey, Denise, thank you so much for your question, great to have you back for the second time on the podcast. Denise left another question in episode 140, so not that long ago actually, last year I think. That question was about whether or not she was in the right English class. It was quite an interesting question, because if you've ever studied in a language school before, you will recognise that feeling of wondering whether you're in the right level or not. So, Denise, I hope that worked out for you. Thank you for today's question as well. I can see the passion you've got for Italian. In your own words, you really, really, really want to learn Italian. I think the answer's pretty straightforward. If you really, really, really want to learn Italian, then you go for it. Seriously. I know I've said it's not good to learn two languages at the same time, but who cares what I say? Go for it. If you're that passionate about Italian, then don't let that stop you.

Your English is great already, I'm sure you'll keep improving. One of the advantages of learning English as a foreign language is that English is the lingua franca of the entire world, pretty much. So, you're always going to keep improving your English. I think when you've got that kind of passion to learn another language, sooner or later you just have to give in and say, “Okay, fine. I'm just going to learn it”. I've done that myself recently. Last year, I spent a month learning German, I then started learning Thai. In many ways, I think those kind of forayed into other languages even though they weren't that serious, and probably helped me with my Cantonese, because it gave me a bit of a break, activated different parts of my brain maybe. The broader point, I think, is learning a language takes time. So, if it's one of your ambitions to learn Italian, then why not start now? You don't have to go crazy with it, you don't have to do three hours a day. What I would probably suggest for you, Denise, is to start to just do a little bit. Here's the thing. With Italian, you've got a big advantage, because Portuguese and Italian are very closely related. Now, you might not have to do as much study with Italian as you did with English. English was your first foreign language, right? The first language is always the hardest, the second language is much easier, and the third language is much easier after that usually, because you become a better language learner. So in this case not only is Italian your second foreign language, but it's also very closely related to Portuguese, so you might actually find it easier than you think.

What I say is keep going with the English, because I think that's your main aim from what I gather, but you can just start spending a little bit of time each day just listening to and reading some basic Italian. You don't have to do any speaking or any heavy studying, just do a little bit here and there with Italian. Like I said, a bit of listening and reading, work your way gradually through a textbook, something like that. You could get my book of Italian short stories. In fact, that would be interesting for you to pick up a copy of my book of Italian short stories for beginners. Try and read it and see how much you can understand. I have a feeling you might understand a lot more than you think. Just by kind of getting that basic exposure to the language over a period of months, even if it's 15 minutes a day, your brain will start to notice patterns, see how Portuguese and Italian are related, and you might find that you're able to get a good foundation in the language without doing that much study. Get going now, get started now, and then time will just do the rest. There's no need to start learning seriously, you might not start learning seriously for another couple of years, but if you do spend a couple of years now just chipping away at it, putting it on the map so to speak, then that I think will do very well for you over time. With that passion you've got, Denise, I don't think you can possibly fail.

I hope that's helpful. What I really want to do is just encourage you. Life's too short to think of all these things you'd love to do for too long without taking action on them. I always kind of think to myself, “I shouldn't do this, I shouldn't do that”, and then it just gets to a point one day when I think, “Screw it. I'm just going to do it”. That's just the way it is. So go with it. I hope that was helpful.

If you'd like to leave me a question, please go to IWillTeachYouALanguage.com/ask. Likewise, if you have benefited from the podcast in any way, why not leave me an iTunes review? I would really like it if you did that, I do read them. I know it takes you a couple of minutes to do, and you've probably got other things you'd rather be doing, like learning languages, but if you do have a couple of minutes free, I would really appreciate a review in iTunes. You can do that by simply going to the iTunes store, clicking on the podcast tab, searching for I Will Teach You a Language, and then you can leave a review there. I'd love you forever if you did that, and I might read it out on the show as well.

At the end of every episode, I like to leave you with something related to the topic and I'm going to give you a quote today, because it's been a while since we've had one of them. This is a quote from Vincent van Gogh. He said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom”. So, on that note, I leave you, and I'll see you back in the next episode of the podcast. Take care.

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