Need more motivation for learning Italian? I’m speaking at an online conference called Women in Language on the topic “Are you making the most of your language lessons?” It miiiiight be the push you need to get back to the grindstone with your studies. Other talks cover topics like: Memory for Conversation, Why You’re Struggling with Listening and What to Do About It, and the #1 Mistake Beginners Make When Learning a Language (and How to Fix It). Read more details, and sign up to attend here.
I won’t lie to you, there are some days where I don’t feel like studying Italian AT ALL. It doesn’t sound fun or necessary or even interesting. The last few months, I’ve been barely maintaining my Italian studies through the free weekly lessons that I write for you, my once-a-week tutoring sessions, and the emails written in Italian to me about our upcoming immersion retreat in Tuscany.
I have pleeeenty of resources to learn, hours of recorded lessons, and lots of friends who speak Italian, but I’m still not studying.
All My Excuses
I could give you a lot of excuses for why this is happening:
— the marketing + public relations business that I run is so crazy, lovely, abundantly busy
— my ‘no’ button inside of my brain is obviously broken because I keep saying ‘yes’ to EVERYTHING
— having a social life where I’m not required to study is often more attractive of an option
These are very real constraints. I have to make a living. I want to build relationships with people that are important to me. And I want to do things that interest me, so of course I keep saying yes.
You Don’t Have to Be the Perfect Student
If that happens to you too, know that I’m right there with you. I’m not the perfect student, and I still make a lot of mistakes when I speak or write in Italian.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to get myself back in the game — or back on the studying wagon, as I’ve called it in the past — while still honoring all of my other commitments.
And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not really a matter of how I motivated I do or don’t feel.
It’s truly a matter of how eager I feel about learning Italian.
How Eager Are You to Learn Italian?
A client of mine, Holly Shaw, calls this alignment. She says, “Have you ever tried to get yourself to do something when you didn’t feel like it? Is there anything worse? It blows my mind how little alignment is addressed correctly in the arts. Doing creative work or practicing can feel like pushing a boulder up the hill. We simply don’t feel like it because we aren’t aligned, but we are probably not aware of that being the problem. The mind is playing huge games on us and telling all kinds of stories — and so we don’t know what to do to get in alignment to be functional. Alignment can stem from many activities, but the goal is always the same: to cultivate eagerness.”
I used to be gung-ho about learning Italian. You can hear it in my voice in almost every single podcast episode in the archives. It’s not like this eagerness has disappeared. When I learn a new word, I still get excited and you can tell that I’m passionate when you watch any of my Facebook Lives.
But I think what happened is that I became “good enough” at speaking Italian and then stopped trying. I don’t want to settle for that anymore, so when I decided that I needed to find other way to get excited about learning again.
In Holly’s book, The Creative Formula, she gives a list of ideas for creating alignment with your art, and I wondered what a similar list might look like for Italian.
Ways to Get Excited About Learning Italian
Here’s what I came up with:
— Look at pictures past trips to Italy
— Listen to these interviews of people who live in Italy or have learned Italian really well
— Schedule in blocks of Italian study time into your calendar with actual, loud, ringing alerts
— Read through your old Italian notes – look at how far you’ve come!
— Scroll through pictures on the Italian for my Girlfriend website
— Follow along with the lyrics to one of your favorite songs in Italian
— Make a list of all of the things you have learned in Italian
— Ask yourself why you wanted to learn Italian in the first place — does that answer still ring true for you now?
— Watch videos of other students learning to speak Italian
— Text an Italian friend “ciao” through Whatsapp
— Hire a new Italian tutor
— Play a game in Italian, like Scarabeo — you’ll probably get frustrated at how many words you can’t create, which might light a fire under your bottom
Have other ideas for how you might get excited about Italian? Let me know in the comments below.