At our latest Italian class, the teacher told the whole class how we had done some great progress in understanding. But then she turned towards me and André and basically said that we needed to practice talking.
She is right, of course. André’s Italian doesn’t seem to have changed much since the first day we started, with him just mixing English and a bit of Italian and calling it a day. As to me, I am too embarrassed by my lack of vocabulary to speak much.
Yesterday, we went to a “birthdays” party – it just so happens that several members of the HCI research group are born in April and May – and, fueled with a bit of wine, I made some rather pathetic attempts at speaking. It must be frustrating to the Italians to listen to me speak, as this is the process I use. First I think of what I want to say in French, since the sentence structure in French and in Italian is almost the same (which cannot be said for English and Italian). Then I painstakingly take each word, figure out what its italian equivalent is and try it out loud (with the Italians helpfully correcting me as I go). Eventually, I hit a word that I don’t know and just say it in English. After a couple of sentences like this, I finally collapse in a corner from sheer exhaustion.
And when the Italians speak to me in their native tongue, I mostly go, “ripitare più lentamento per favore”.
You have no idea how frustrating it can be to try to learn a new language and see how easy it seems to be for everyone else. Sigh.