During my first week of learning Italian, I focused exclusively on hearing and pronunciation.
Until this week, I had no idea what any of the words meant. Idahosa told me that I didn’t need to. The goal at this stage was just to build my Capacity.
According to The Mimic Method, I will be able to learn faster, understand more and speak with a better accent if I focused first on the sounds.
Now that I’ve finally started to learn what stuff means, I think he’s absolutely right..
Italian Basics with Pimsleur
I still haven’t had a conversation with anyone yet. Instead, I focused on learning basic words and phrases with a program called Pimsleur.
Pimsleur is one of the few other “Learn by Ear” programs. You listen to audio only conversations of native speakers and try to mimic them out loud.
I found Pimsleur to be great for learning new words and phrases. But I don’t think it’s the best tool for pure beginners. It was sometimes quite challenging to hear the sounds and hold them in my auditory memory. I could only do this because of all the time I spent developing my Italian hearing and pronunciation.
If I didn’t already develop my Italian capacity, Pimsleur may have been too difficult for me.
But luckily I did develop my Italian Capacity, thanks to all the work I describe in this post. So Pimsleur was a perfect entryway for me to develop the basics.
Study Pimsleur While Moving
I tried doing Pimsleur while sitting in a chair in my room, but I found it too hard to stay focused. So I made a point to always do my lessons while taking a walk.
When I trained while walking, I felt much more focused and engaged.
Only thing is, I was a bit embarrassed at first to walk in public speaking Italian to myself. So to prevent people from thinking I was crazy, I pretended to be speaking on the phone.
Great thing about this was that it forced me to really get into character. No one would believe I was really an Italian if I had an accent right? So when I spoke, I really tried to nail the pronunciation, intonation and attitude.
According to Idahosa, allowing myself to leave my English identity and slip into a new Italian one will be key to my success.
So my phony phone call approach may be a step in the right direction. 🙂
Italian Pimsleur Example
For those of you not familiar with Pimsleur, I am including a short example recording below. In it, you will hear me doing my latest Pimsleur lesson, mistakes and all.
It starts with a conversation between two native Italians. I’ve already learned most of the words and phrases in the conversation – this is just comprehension practice.
After the conversation, the guide prompts me to answer questions in Italian and mimic new words. Listen closely to how I mimic.
To give you an idea of the difficulty, what you just heard was lesson 15 of 20 in Unit 1. Each lesson in 30 minutes and can be quite brain-intensive. Because my goal is to reach The Shift as fast as possible, I’ve been doing 2-4 lessons per day, spaced out between morning and afternoon.
At the end of a day, my brain feels like mush. Even though I’ve been taking lots of walks in the park while training the last few days, training Italian this intensively is definitely no “walk in the park!”
But I can definitely say that between the Capacity training and these first 15 lessons of Pimsleur, I am improving my Italian super fast.
Italian Mission – Next Steps
I am very excited for the next step in my mission – having real conversations with real Italians.
The whole reason I am doing all this training is because I want to connect with Italians.
So this week I will finally do just that. Stay tuned for an update video of me having my first conversations on italki.com. Then, stay tuned longer as I have another conversation after another after another…
Idahosa tells me that I just need to accumulate as many real conversations as I can before I can leave out of the first step in Stage 2: Simple Conversation.
I’ve got the rest of my week booked. Wish me luck, and subscribe below to stay updated on the mission.