Tag Archives: Italian

Polyglot Austin: Our Multilingual, Multicultural City!

Benvenuti to the newest Italian installment of our ongoing ‘Polyglot Austin” interactive blog series!  And prego! You’re welcome in advance for the most alluring post yet…(ahemm, ladies within 100 mi. radius of central Austin, you really wouldn’t want to miss this one.)

We’re delighted to bring you the most dashing, charming, fun-loving of Italians in the Atx ready to share his style sense with us, in Italian!  Please meet Alessandro (Alex), owner of the chic Italian boutique, Cotone.   Grazie Alex! Located in central Austin and the heart of UT,  Cotone is a not-to-miss gem!

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We love his Euro – West-coast hybrid, a new sort of Austin eclectic at such affordable prices.  Lunga vita a Cotone!

Watch and listen to Alex in our beginner and intermediate videos below (subtitled, with full transcription provided)!  You can practice your listening comprehension, reading and writing – all while learning more about Italian fashion & culture in Austin.   Che figo!

We also invite you to meet his dog and hear about his grandmother’s first sewing machine – link at the end!

Beginner Level

Beginners, to get the most out of this exercise, watch it first without sound, while reading the subtitles.  Then, watch the video again with sound. See how multiple viewings of segments of the video improve your reading & listening comprehension. Be sure to answer the questions here in our comment section, our teacher will get back to you.

  

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT

Beginner Questions

1.    Di dov’e’ Alessandro?

2.   Che lavoro fa Alessandro?

Intermediate Level 

 

Q-1 Qual’e’ la cosa piu’ difficile per il proprietario di un negozio di abbigliamento?
A-1 La cosa piu’ difficile sicuramente e’ come comprare i capi e quali capi comprare e cercare di capire i trend del mercato, e poi andare alle fiere e prendere i vestiti che … che probabilmente saranno quelli che venderanno di piu’. CLICK HERE FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT

Intermediate Questions

1. Cosa cerca di capire Alessandro prima di comprare i capi di vestiario?

2. Chi e’ la clientela principale di Cotone?

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Click here to find out why this is Cotone’s logo!

Connect with Alex and Cotone:  website , Facebook , Twitter  to get the latest of the new fall collection.  Great SALES going on NOW, run don’t walk! What do you think, Freestyle students, should we do a fashion-show language demo at Cotone?

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And thank all y’all! for celebrating the city’s cultural diversity with us while taking an interactive approach to language learning! Want to practice / learn more Italian?  We’re currently in Fall II Session, so come for a FREE trial of our super popular Saturday “cafes”, every Sat. 11-12:30, and/or try a core class too!  See Schedule , contact us: info@freestylelanguagecenter.com
Plus, see our other Italian blog interviews with local business owners from Andiamo & Dolce Neve!

The Freestyle Lifestyle

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Using language in context! Students at our wine tasting, in the classroom & at our polyglot graffiti walk!

Our one-of-a-kind approach to second language acquisition uses technology and interactive media in a way that brings the most recent, relevant, high-usage vocabulary and everyday expressions to our students in an entertaining and effective way. Join us as we continue to revolutionize language learning!

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POLYGLOT AUSTIN: OUR MULTILINGUAL, MULTICULTURAL CITY!

Welcome to another installment of Freestyle Language Center’s “Polyglot Austin” series, where we celebrate the city’s cultural diversity, while taking an interactive approach to language learning!

In this entry, we feature Italian native Daniela Marcone, owner of Andiamo Ristorante, the most authentic Italian restaurant in Austin. Take a culinary journey with us, and practice your Italian!

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Daniela Marcone (left) compra verdura fresca al mercato.

Located at 2521 Rutland Dr, we celebrate  Andiamo Ristorante for its commitment to fine ingredients and authentic Italian fare. Owned by Naples-native Daniela Marcone, Andiamo serves and prepares food exactly how it would be done in Italy.

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare … Che bonta’!

Watch and listen to our interviews with Daniela to practice your Italian. Before we get started, go ahead and grab your favorite vino, the great fluency builder…First things first! To get the most out of this language learning tool, as step 1 read the transcriptions for general context. Step 2, hit play and as you listen, if needed, stop to review. See how multiple viewings of segments of each video improves your reading & listening comprehension.  To practice writing, answer some questions below in Italiano (maybe time to refill that glass first?…) and you’ll hear back from our teachers! Let’s listen, va bene?

Beginner Level

Q: Come ti chiami?A: Mi chiamo Daniela Marcone.

Q: Di dove sei?A: Sono di Napoli.

 Q: Hai famiglia qui ad Austin?A: No, sono da sola qui ad Austin.

 Q: Cosa ti piace di Austin e del Texas?A: Direi, Austin e’ una citta’ abbastanza liberale. Considerando lo stato del Texas, ci sono molte persone che hanno viaggiato quindi hanno una mente molto piu’ aperta circa la cultura, il mangiare, le lingue, i viaggi e mi trovo molto bene con questa dimensione di Austin.

 Q: Cosa ti piace fare quando hai tempo libero?A: Mi piace dedicare il mio tempo libero a delle organizzazioni senza scopo di lucro. Quindi mi piace fare la volontaria, stare a contatto con la natura. amo i cavalli, i disabili, i bambini, quindi dedico il mio tempo libero a quelle cose e ovviamente ai miei animali quando ho tempo.

Intermediate Level

Q: Benissimo! Quando hai deciso di diventare proprietaria di un ristorante? / A: Quando mi si e’ stata presentata l’opportunita’ perche’ non era la mia intenzione o nei miei piani di vita.  Quindi e’ semplicemente capitato.

Q: Descrivi com’e’ una tipica giornata per te. / A: Direi che, essendo proprietaria di un ristorante, i tempi al mattino sono ben diversi da quelli di ogni altra persona perche’ si inizia relativamente tardi.  Mi sveglio, mi prendo cura dei miei animali.  Non devo essere al lavoro fino alle 11 del mattino e quindi la giornata per me inizia abbastanza tardi.  Alle 11 si inizia a lavorare.  Amo il contatto con il pubblico, quindi mi prendo cura dei miei clienti fino alle due.  Il mio pranzo e’ abbastanza tardi, quindi io inizio quando gli altri finiscono, e poi di solito il pomeriggio faccio delle commissioni per il ristorante.

FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT, CLICK HERE & look in video description

Questions – Answer in ‘comment’ section below to hear back from our teachers:

Beginner:

1) Che mestiere fa Daniela?   
2) Perche’ a Daniela piace Austin?  

Intermediate:

3) Che cosa le manca di piu’ dell’ Italia?   
4)  Che cosa ha studiato Daniela in Italia?   

The Freestyle Lifestyle

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We do language learning a little differently at Freestyle!

Our one -of-a-kind approach to second language acquisition uses technology and interactive media in a way that brings the most recent, relevant, high-usage vocabulary and everyday expressions to our students in an entertaining and effective way. Join us as we continue to revolutionize language learning: Try a free evening class or our popular Saturday “cafe” (11am-12:30pm) at 801 Rio Grande!

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Polyglot Austin! Our multicultural, multilingual City

Showcasing our diverse city…with an abundance of language learning opportunities! 

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In a melting pot like the city of Austin, with a  variety of cultures around every corner, we are always in earshot of molte lingue . Through our blog, Freestyle Language Center reaches into the community conducting engaging interviews in Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese. This enables us to connect with a wide range of interesting polyglots, from business owners to fellow film buffs, while we embrace and learn from their native language and culture! Read on and esercitare!

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No hiding from this polyglot community!

Talking to local business owners, professors and even the average Giuseppe on the street about their everyday life in Austin provides the perfect opportunity to enhance our language learning.

The first of our interview series stars Italian Marco Silvestrini, an up-and-coming local business owner from Fabriano,  a small town in Italy in the region of Marche. Visit and Like their Facebook page to stay up to date on flavors and deals! Keeping Austin Cool!

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Marco shares his passion for gelato and brings a taste of Italy to the heart of Austin with a new gelateria called “Dolce Neve.”

Here are our beginner and intermediate videos accompanied by an Italian transcription. Watch, listen and respond to a few questions. Add your answers to our comment section and our Italian teachers will get back to you!

1. Beginner Level:

Q:  Come ti chiami?/ A: Ciao! Mi chiamo Marco Silvestrini.
Q: Di dove sei?/  A:  Sono itailano, di un paese del cento dell’Italia chiamato Fabriano.
Q: Che fai come lavoro?/ A: Sto aprendo una gelateria qui ad Austin.
Q: Qual è il tuo passatempo preferito?/ A: Mi piace fare sport. Mi piace fare passeggiate per i boschi e mi piace andare in bicicletta.
Q: Cosa ti piace di Austin? / A: Di Austin mi piace che ci sono molte attività che possono essere svolte all’aria aperta: è possibile andare a visitare i parchi, è possibile fare una corsa per Lady Bird Lake, o anche fare un giro in canoa.
Q: E del Texas, cosa ti piace? / A:  Il barbeque!
Q:  E cosa ti manca dell’Italia? / A:  A volte mi manca il cibo. E la famiglia e gli amici.
Q: Hai famiglia ad Austin? / A: Sì, mia sorella vive qui insieme a suo fidanzato.
Q:  Descrivi una giornata tipica per te/ A: Tipicamente la mattina la dedico per volgere attività lavorative: mandare email, chiamare venditori. A pranzo un buon piatto di pasta e nel pomeriggio ancora un po’ di lavoro. Poi ci vado in palestra. Poi se riesco, esco con gli amici la sera.

Domande:
1. Che lavoro fa Marco?
2. Quali sono alcuni aspetti della vita ad Austin piacciono a Marco?
3. Com’è una giornata tipica per Marco?

2. Intermediate/Advanced Level:

Q: Come ti chiami?/ A: Mi chiamo Marco Silvestrini.
Q: E di dove sei? / A: Sono italiano di un paese nel centro dell’Italia, chiamato Fabriano… famoso per la carta. Un vecchio paese medioevale.
Q: E perché sei venuto qui ad Austin?/ A: Sono venuto qui per lanciare un attività: sto aprendo una gelateria insieme a mia sorella Francesca e il suo ragazzo Leo.
Q: In Italia, dove hai studiato? / A: In Italia ho studiato a Milano presso un’università chiamata Politecnico di Milano dove mi sono laureato in ingegneria meccanica.
Q: E qui ad Austin, perché vuoi aprire… lanciare questa gelateria? (Translator’s note: I meant to say either “aprire la gelateria” or “lanciare quest’attività” but it seems I became a bit tongue-tied in the moment.) / A: Perché ritengo che Austin dal punto di vista economica sia una città che offre opportunità per crescere, le persone che vivono ad Austin sono decisamente amanti del buon cibo. Spero che piacerà anche un buon gelato italiano. Dal punto di vista personale è un posto ideale dovere vivere. Amo le persone che vivono ad Austin!
Q: Sono d’accordo… sono d’accordissimo. Quali sono gli aspetti più difficili di questo tipo di lavoro, di questo mestiere? / A: Le incertezze e il fatto che non puoi veramente pianificare le attività, che non sai mai cosa succederà nella giornata e non sai cosa succederà in un’ altra giornata. Dipendi molto da altre persone e le altre persone a volte hanno altre attività che devono condurre in parallelo. E bisogna aspettare, aspettare, aspettare.

Domande:
1. Per quale motivo si è trasferito ad Austin Marco?
2. Secondo Marco, quali sono alcuni vantaggi che una città come Austin offre a chi lancia un’attività? Sei d’accordo?

A big grazie mille to Matteo Rabatin for his contribution to the interviews and transcriptions, and to Candice Pilkinton for her assistance.

Keeping Austin Local, Weird and Multilingual.

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Our methodology at Freestyle incorporates technology and interactive media in a way which brings the most recent, relevant, high-usage vocabulary and everyday expressions to our students in an entertaining and effective way. Join us and try a free class or Saturday “cafe” (11am-12:30pm)!

Know a polyglot in Austin? Let us know who you’d like to see featured on our blog by commenting below!

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Embracing Subtitles; the Road to Fluency

This is not your mother’s pair of jeans, nor your father’s Oldsmobile… this is language learning in the 21st century! It’s pop culture, y’all. It’s slang and everyday language, it’s the fun path to fluency.

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Don’t let subtitles scare you! Get over your fears and hesitations; don’t be too cool for this kind of school.

Films use language in real-life situations enabling the learner to grasp the meaning and sounds of colloquial expressions at the heart of everyday language while experiencing cultural contexts… all while entertaining!

Sit Back and Enjoy the Amusement of Subtitles!

Subtitles can uniquely create humor, adding a pure comedic touch. Take this clip from the comedy Airplane for example with two men speaking jive, obviously English… but is it? Check out the video to see what all the hoopla is about!

Subtitles are humorous! Enjoy… and embrace them!

When learning everyday jargon in a foreign language, we can’t all go about faking it like Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds! Watch as Brad Pitt is thrown off entirely by the fluency with which Christopher Waltz’s character speaks Italian; subtitles enhance the comedic effect.

To Swear or Not To Swear? No Matter, It’s Idiomatic!

To go about one’s day, one needs an understanding of common lingo, or street talk. Don’t tell your mother we told you, but swearing is a huge part of cultural context, colloquial language! Every language has modern slang that defies literal meanings. For example, non-native speakers of English wouldn’t know the flexibility of using swear words such as *hore, bi*ch and *ss without watching films such as this American high school parody, Mean Girls in their native language subtitles.

Embrace, even if you choose not to personally swear like a (bilingual) pirate!

Similarly, we see the French word putain used everywhere, rarely in a literal context.  But we would not know that without seeing how it’s used in everyday language, ie… scenes in films! With film, we grab the cultural meaning behind the language. Watch this clip of Jean Dujardin accepting his Oscar for Best Actor. Did you catch that slip at the end? “Ouah, putain, genial, merci, formidable, merci beaucoup, I love you!”

French films teach us quickly that putain, a high-frequency swear word (but harmless, really) appears just about anywhere in most French sentences.

Global Speak; It’s all Relative

We, as Americans specifically, need to get over our fear of subtitles. People use them all around the world for varying purposes.

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Subtitles carry the potential to be an international game-changer in poverty, status and education.

Millions of people in countries around the world embrace subtitles with no hesitation as a means to improving their everyday life. See this NY Times article on how learners use subtitling to further their education and career and to make global connections.

Even in the realm of entertainment, the entire world seeks to connect to Hollywood and Bollywood films and they do so with subtitles in their native language!

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Let’s eradicate the misconceptions we tend to have while dealing with subtitles in film; they’re useful and globally accepted!

The Science, The Backbone Behind It

Acquiring language through a medium such as film is not only fun and entertaining, but multiple studies have shown it’s a driving force for second language and culture acquisition.

As renowned linguist and second-language acquisition expert Stephen Krashen once said “language needs to be fun!” Language acquisition works best when the input is interesting and compelling to us, so much so that we forget we are immersing ourselves in another language!

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“The best methods are therefore those that supply ‘comprehensible input’ in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear.” -Krashen.

Rod Ellis, a leading theorist in 2nd language acquisition, elaborates:  “Successful instructed language learning requires extensive 2nd language input…where 2nd language needs to become the medium as well as object.” Film is the medium, and an entertaining one at that! SO, pull yourself out of the humdrum routine of hours with flashcards and intensive studying. Although these methods help in retaining information, the delight and entertainment of film best supplements them.

Plenty of science revolves around it, but the ultimate goal is to have fun while you’re learning; your brain will do all the work! While watching foreign film, in the midst of having fun, you increase your metalinguistic awareness, unbeknownst to you. Qu’est-ce que c’est  metalinguistic awareness? It’s simply the ability to think of and be aware of language in relation to its cultural context, that language has specific functions and rules. Furthermore, multiple viewings of a foreign film also increase awareness of important paralinguistic elements: body language, gestures, facial expressions, loudness, tempo….all features highly important to communication in another language.

One of the most renown (and local!) language specialists, Dr. Garza, Director of the Texas Language Center of the University of Texas, provides an important pedagogical framework for the use of video and film in the classroom. See Dr. Garza as he explains how video and film, as authentic texts, contain the possibility to develop language learners into “active learners”. He states that the application of technology such as video, film, internet, etc. may hold the key for language learners to go from competence to proficiency, i.e. to make great strides along the road to fluency!

The Freestyle Way

Freestyle’s unique methodology incorporates foreign film in our curriculum in a step-by-step process that allows significant realization of linguistic and cultural meaning. We study relevant vocabulary themes and intermediate to advanced grammars entirely in the context of a specific, chosen film; here’s a quick break down of our process:

1. Watch the film in target language with English subtitles; this provides semantics (meaning)

2. Work thoroughly through target language subtitles and/or transcribed dialogue of film over the session; this provides lexical and syntactic information (vocabulary and word order)

3. Watch the film in segments with no subtitles;  this provides phonetics (sound/pronunciation/listening)

4. Witness a significant boost in listening, comprehension and speaking ability!

Additionally, Freestyle is proud to incorporate Austin’s own ITAL in our classes! Transmedia specialist Sergio Carvajal-Leoni, in collaboration with Austin-Based Filmmaker Romina Olson and UT Award-Winning Italian instructor Antonella Del Fattore-Olson, created ITAL, a digital channel that blends entertainment and education to teach Italian language and culture. The entertaining ITAL videos are intended to expand students’ knowledge of contemporary Italian culture while helping them to increase their vocabulary and oral competency. As you can see in the video that follows, part of ITAL’s instructional component is reflected in the use of subtitles – sometimes in English, others in Italian – to emphasize how new vocabulary is used in everyday conversation.

HINT: This fall, intermediate Spanish students will be studying Spanish through Volver, intermediate French through the romantic comedy Heartbreakers, Portuguese through the comedy The Man Who Copied, Italian through the dramedy The Last Kiss!  Come visit a class for FREE.

Additional Tip! 

Try practicing with subtitles by choosing a tv show/film you enjoy watching in your native language with your target language subtitles. For example, the American hit romantic comedy, Two Weeks Notice (Sandra Bullock / Hugh Grant), like many U.S. shows and films, offers both French and Spanish subtitles.

We hope you see the many varied reasons to embrace and enjoy subtitles so that your road to fluency will be smoother and more enjoyable.

Happy Trails on Your Journey to Fluency

Accepting subtitles in foreign film will allow you to grasp a whole new realm of knowledge  that would otherwise only be receivable via physical interaction in the actual country.
Seize the power of film to help you obtain the gift of gab in your target language and join us at Freestyle to further develop your language learning in a relevant, fun and social context!

The idea that language learning is rote and boring is defunct in the 21st century!

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Fall Italian Food & Wine!

One thing we, as Americans, tend to think of  regarding Italy, is passion. Italians treasure , and indeed are passionate about, their rich culture and heritage which traditionally center around  food and wine.

Romance & passion in Italy

In Italy, the cuisine reflects regions as well as the seasons. In Fall, communities in northern Italy celebrate truffles and mushrooms, so much so that the internationally famous Alba truffle festival takes place over 7 weekends (7! Over 14 days of truffles! Now that is passion for truffles. What decadence!) White truffles are an exquisite and expensive ingredient found mainly near Alba, and in the piedmont region.

White truffles in Alba, Italy

In Italy’s southern regions, chestnuts are the celebrated ingredient of Fall. In the town Fagnano Castello, in the Cosenza region, the annual festival called the  “Sagra Della Castagne” celebrates the chestnut harvest, to nearly mythical proportions.

Sagra Della Castagne (Festival of Chestnuts)

The Italians use chestnuts and truffles in ways we would have never dreamed. Check out a few recipes we’ve selected:

RECIPES USING WHITE TRUFFLES/CHESTNUTS:

Taglierini Con Tartufi Bianchi / Taglierini With White Truffles:

Serves 4

1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large fresh sage leaves, torn into 4 pieces each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3⁄4 lb. taglierini
2 oz. white truffles

1. Rub a small saucepan with garlic clove. Over low flame, melt 6 tbsp. of the butter. Add sage and salt and pepper, and cook gently for about 5 minutes, letting the butter bubble, but being careful not to let it toast.

2. In a large stockpot, bring ample water to a boil. Salt generously and add taglierini. Cook pasta until al dente, then drain thoroughly. Toss pasta with sage butter in a large, warm serving bowl. Cut remaining 2 tbsp. butter into pieces and add to taglierini, tossing again to bind pasta. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. At the table, shave approximately 1⁄2 oz. white truffles over each serving.

(Credit: Christopher Baker)

Castagnaccio/Chestnut cake

Serves 8

3 T sultana (golden) raisins
1/2 lb chestnut flour
2 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for oiling the pan and drizzling on top
pinch of salt
4 t sugar
2 to 2 1/2 c cold water
3 T pine nuts (pignoli)
a few sprigs of rosemary
1. Soak the raisins for a few minutes in a small bowl with warm water.
2. Mix the chestnut flour, oil, salt, sugar, and water (I used 2 c, but you can add a little more according to your taste and the consistency of the batter).
3. Drain the raisins and mix them into the batter, along with the pine nuts.
4. Pour the batter into a greased 9″ diameter pan, 2″ deep. The batter will not rise during baking, so if you have a slightly different size pan on hand, that is fine too.
5. Sprinkle the rosemary sprigs over the top of the batter and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.
6. Bake at 400 F for 1 hour. You’ll know it is ready when the surface is covered with little cracks. Cool, turn out onto a plate, and enjoy!

(credit: http://www.epicurious.com user marzipan4)

Buon appetito!

Castagnaccio/Taglierini Con Tartufi Bianchi

For us Austinites, check out this authentic Italian restaurant:

Andiamo Ristorante:

Fall Special: “Pumpkin Ravioli in brown-sugar and sage sauce.” Also, check their menu for more fall dishes…delizioso!

2521 Rutland Drive Austin TX 78758

http://www.andiamoitaliano.com/About_Us.html

-And a few other Italian restaurants:

Vespaio:

1610 South Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78704

http://www.austinvespaio.com/vespaio/vespaio.html

La Traviata Italian Bistro:

314 Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78701
http://www.latraviata.net/

Carmelo’s: 

504 East 5th Street, Austin, TX 78701
http://carmelosrestaurant.com/

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Excuse me, I noticed you from across the room, and I wondered if we could talk…

What makes for successfully learning a language? I often hear stories from  people who studied such-and-such at some distant (or not too distant) juncture in their life. They remember some basics, the s’il vous plaît, the gracias, the привет, the arrivederci.  The story usually contains details about how the learning wasn’t fun, or the language just didn’t speak to them or that they never used it then POOF! it was gone, much like the raccoons from your trash can as you open the door to see what all the ruckus is about.  The epilogue of their little tale often contains some lament about having lost the language, or never having learned another, or never really using it to begin with.

What I notice in these accounts is their lack. The narrators are a bit removed from their stories, as if they’ve no vested personal interest in it, but are merely reporting this little episode that they could have very easily seen on any edition of “The Bachelor,” where that overly handsome airline pilot tries to connect with date #13 as he bides his time to woo #14 and think about #12.  I worry that this disconnect is exactly why they let that language get away–they never felt it theirs, or theirs for the taking and having.

So how do you make that connection?  Well, you look that language right in the eye, that window to the soul, and you see whether she (or he, for that matter, your language perhaps being a burly and rugged German or English, rather than a spicy Spanish or a titillating Italian) connects with you.

It’s a first date.  And as on every first date, you ask yourself some very basic questions.

1.  What is your interest in him? Or better, is she interesting? Your friend who’s dating a lawyer may find all lawyers captivating, but if you don’t, taking one to dinner isn’t conducive to you getting swept off your feet.  You must have an attraction to your language. You must find her appealing.  That interest can, of course, be utilitarian–say, learning German because your firm has offices in Berlin and Munich. For some, utility is a great and sufficient motivator.  But it isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the only one. What sparks your interest? What keeps you magnetized? On this very blog, a commenter  recently expressed a desire to learn some Mongolian because of  a pending voyage there. Travel is another good motivation–how better to experience a new place than being able to chat with the locals and read their menus rather than some awkward translation?  Perhaps you have a close friend fluent in Chinese. No better reason to learn Chinese than to speak  it with your friend. My own choices in learning have been driven by literature, that great seducer.  Voltaire’s Candide wooed me so much that I wanted to read it in the original, and thus was I compelled to learn French.  The come-hither vibes of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics had me coo-coo for Italian. Are you a fan of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? Perhaps the carrot of  Män som hatar kvinnor is just the right treat to get you galloping to learn Swedish.

Reading "La cage aux folles" out loud

2.  How do I make a personal connection with my date?  This is always the tough question and the daunting task of starting a new relationship.  Like a new boyfriend with whom you want to spend every free minute, a new language  needs to be an integral part of your life.  Yes, there are sometimes textbooks involved, but once you close them you can’t leave the language there.  Take it with you, make it a part of your day-to-day life.  It’s not a dog, it’s your dog, tu perro. You’re not at the supermarket to buy groceries, you’re there to get du lait, des framboises, du riz, du boeuf.  And it’s not simply incorporating language into part of your life, it’s sharing interests and passions.  It’s your love of movies adding Lola rennt and Der Krieger und die Kaiserin to your Netflix queue or your music obsession keeping L’Ecole du micro d’argent in your CD player for days on end (or on repeat on your EyePod or EarCapsule or whatever digital music device you use).  Make the personal connection, because that’s what keeps LTRs (long-term relationships for those not into acronyms) headed on the right track. Making the personal connection makes the language yours, and you’ll always want to speak your language(s).

Mon chien et mon chat; mi perro y mi gatto

3.  Am I having fun with my date? Am I having fun learning about my date? This is the age-old query of any relationship–are we having fun yet? Or still? Or at all? Though it sometimes takes place in a classroom, learning a language doesn’t have to be soulless or boring. When you’re waiting in line with your lady-love at Starbucks, ready to share yet another romantic iced Venti White Chocolate Mocha with an extra shot–wait who am I kidding?  You’re both coffee purists, that’s why you connected, so no ice in that fancy drink for either of you!–you talk, you joke, you make the wait entertaining. And that’s the attitude you must adopt when learning a language.  Sometimes you have to wait in line, or consult a grammar book or do some exercises in a text, but those moments can be made all the better by having a little fun in the process.  Don’t limit yourself to learning from those texts–the world is your playground, and it’s filled with literary slides and swings, cinematic merry-go-rounds and musical monkey bars.  Sing a vibrant version of “La vie en rose” in the shower or give yourself a dramatic, loud-as-you-can reading of Elogio de la sombra as you sip iced tea on your back porch.  The more fun you make it, the less it seems like work, and the less it seems like work, the more fun it is to do, so you do it more, thus learn more and then the whole wicked and delicious cycle starts all over again!

Learning a language is a lot like starting a new relationship.  You have to be interested in the person to begin with, you have to make a personal connection and incorporate that person into your life, and you have to have fun–otherwise the break-up is inevitable, and you’ll wonder why you went out in the first place.  Take the time to pick a good date, make a choice that means something to you and go for it.

And don’t forget, every relationship starts with a simple, “Hello.”

Just take a listen:

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