I’m stumbling and tripping my way through an attempt to learn Italian. It’s HARD! And I’m sure that Italian is one of the easier languages to learn—a romance language, lots of words are basically the same in English, plus I was reasonably good in French in high school and college. But I think age is catching up with me—brain cells shriveling up right and left, destra e sinistra.

I’ve attacked the problem several ways, hoping that there’s strength in variety. First, we (my husband is also on this journey) have found a native Italian speaker at the University of Washington who’s willing to walk us through a baby Italian college-level text book. She’s enormously encouraging and vigorously applauds every little thing we get right as if we’d just won a Nobel Prize. We meet on Zoom and try for a weekly schedule, but it’s more like twice a month because of our various conflicting schedules.

Secondly, I signed up with Babbel. I like it a lot, mostly, I fear, because it makes me feel as if I’m doing better than I actually am.

Thirdly, I have a friend who also is learning Italian and whose skills are way beyond mine (for example, she knows verb tenses beyond the present tense, which we are not yet privy to) who is willing to exchange Italian emails with me on a sporadic basis. She doesn’t correct my efforts, but just sends another email describing her projects and travels, and I try to do the same. We talk about food and travel and hobbies.

Fourthly, I thought it would be fun to try to read a relatively simple book in Italian that I also have a copy of in English. We have found a copy of Agatha Christie’s C’è un cadaver in biblioteca in both English and Italian. I’ve struggled through the first paragraph and it’s harder than I expected.

Fifthly, we are watching Italian TV on the streaming channel MhZ. Italian audio, English subtitles. Also hard, as the actors seem to frequently drop the final syllable of most of their words. A friend has told us we should watch it with Italian audio AND with Italian subtitles. Maybe we should give that a try.

Ciao for now.

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