Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Beginning

It was 18 months ago I embarked on a personal project to learn a foreign language. After checking out a few websites, I choose Italiano- simply because the syllabus has something in it that tickles me.

Yeap, Italian can be classified as exotic for me- who live on a remote island in Malaysia all my life, meeting only three Italians here. I used to enjoy the BBC classic " Mind Your Language" and vaguely remember that fuzzy hair Italian Giovanni Capello. What else? I know ciao, pizza, cappucino, sphagetti and lasagna. Yummy...Maybe food is another reason that attracts me to Italian.

I didn't purchase any books or tapes. Relying solely on common sense, I opted to begin by reading about the alphabet and pronunciation system on BBC Italian Steps. The spelling and pronunciation are regular ( except for the double consonants). The audio files on BBC are well designed and helpful. They also provide number codes to type the accented characters on an English keyboard.

From this website academic.brooklyn.cuny I am able to learn the basics on my own. However as the grammatical complexity gradually dawned on me, I sensed the need to interact with the Italians.

I recall an article that likens learning a language to learning to swim. It says ," You cannot learn to swim by reading a book. You have to get into the water and splash about in it." Where to find some Italian people? The most convenient way is of course- chat room!

So I logged into an Italian chat room in Yahoo called " In Italiano". Amidst a sea of unfamiliar Italian words, I noticed a woman typing in English, asking the Italians whether Italian is the same as Spanish.

Irked by the ignorance, the Italians told her that it was like asking if a woman were the same as a man. They proceeded to tell her about the anatomical differences, beginning with the genitals ( I prefer to omit those details ).In the end the poor lady left in an upset state. As for me ( simper*), " In Italiano" becomes my favourite " swimming pool" from day one.

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