Slice of Life: Tuesday – Trips & Learning a New Language

Before the COVID 19 pandemic, our family had some trips planned. This is not unusual for us or others. Most trips take planning. The bigger the trip, the further in advance one must plan. Or, so it seems.

Our youngest was to go to the UK with his aunt for his Graduation trip. She has taken all three of our boys on individual milestone trips – at the end of 5th grade, at the end of 8th grade, and at the end of high school – after graduation. As you can imagine – the last one is a big trip – to a place of their choosing, overseas.  Our oldest chose to go to Switzerland. Our middle son chose to go to Italy.  And, our youngest? He chose the UK.


They all had their reasons for where they chose to go. and some qualifications of where they might visit when in these foreign countries. Let’s just say going to the most touristy areas has not been on any of their agendas.


So, in late June my youngest was to go to the UK with his Aunt for a week. In late July, my oldest – who likes to travel – had made arrangements to work remotely from a tiny village in Southern Italy – where my husband’s ancestors are from.  He was to be gone four to six weeks with his aunt joining him there for some of the time as well. He was able to secure an apartment that would sleep up to six people.  It sounded wonderful.

Previous to all of this, my husband and I were planning to take a Viking River Cruise on one of the major rivers in Europe. But, something kept us from pursuing this in a formal sense. We talked about it but never did anything about reserving a spot or even picking an itinerary.  It still would be nice to do this, but the timing seemed off and still, is not quite right.


So, when we heard our son had a place in Italy for six weeks, we thought we might join him for a week. He did invite us. This was all pre-pandemic, mind you.  Just about a month ago, on the verge of the Safer at Home Order by our Governor, I decided to learn Italian!


After 33 consecutive days of practice and the realization that we will most likely not be going to Italy this summer, I continue to try and learn this language.  For 15-30 minutes a day, I use the Duolingo app to learn Italian.  It’s been fun and mind-strengthening. I’d even go so far as to say – enjoyable!  So, despite not having a trip to look forward to, instead, I anticipate learning more about the Italian language and almost relish in more time to do this!

There are several things I’ve noticed about learning a new language. 1)  You have got to practice, practice, practice. This is why I have not skipped a day since I started. You forget if you do not practice. 2) You need to let the “rules” of English go. There is no need to contemplate why “we do this” and “they do that!”  Just learn it – their way.  3) I seem to be able to read the language better than I can speak or write it. The ability to write in Italian is hindered by the phonetic based spelling of my childhood and also a regional (and, foreign) dialect. It’s akin to the I say potato and you say po-tah-toe! 4) Making time to practice has become a habit! They say it takes about three weeks for something to become a habit. Now, approaching my fifth week of daily practice, I can see how it has become routine. At 9:30 last night, when I realized I had not practiced, I pulled up the app and got my daily points! Whew! I am still on a streak!

Learning a new language, whether a trip is involved or not, has been a satisfying and enjoyable experience! Have you learned a foreign language as an adult? What was it and how did it go? Were you able to use it when the time came? Leave a note in the comments for me! Ciao!







9 thoughts

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading this slice – I hope that you and your guys are still able to travel to some degree.

    I’ve tried to learn Hebrew as an adult. I’ve got a general sense of how sentences/grammar is built, and I’ve got lots of word roots under my belt – which is mostly how the language is structured. But I have a LOT to learn if I want to be conversational!


  2. I learnt Spanish as an adult when I went to get a degree at university. I was already good at French and after nearly 40 years it all came back to me. Spanish, French and Italian are closely linked, so if you know one it’s a stepping stone to the other. I think the key is enjoyment and a good teacher.
    I adore learning languages, but when I tried to learn Telugu and Hindi in India, disaster…no one could teach or explain either language in a way that helped (learning a whole new alphabet doesn’t make it easier either!).. You are absolutely right about practice, it’s a key, also I found writing verbs and their endings and stuff like that down, helped to stick it in my head.
    Enjoy your Italian and keep it up!! Try to find an Italian penfriend maybe…? I have taught Spanish at a Masters business course in India and spoken French to a couple of people after many years….My accent is hopeless though…!


  3. This was a very hopeful and uplifting post. Sometimes with the shelter in place I feel like I might not ever be able to leave the house again. Your post made me remember all the trips I’ve taken and that in the future we will be able to travel again. I studied French in high school and college, but I wasn’t able to try it out until last year on a trip to France. I didn’t always know what was being said, but I do know that the French people were very appreciative that I tried to speak to them in their native language. That’s a good lesson for life in general-try to understand someone else’s ‘language’ and they will be more open to speaking yours.


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