How do you learn a language? Do you buy a book? Do you need to find native speakers? Or do you need to travel to another country? All of these are viable options, but some are very expensive, and require a lot of work that may be unnecessary.
It’s incredible all of the websites that have been created with the sole purpose of teaching languages to others. A website that I utilize is called Duo Lingo. It offers a number of languages, with focuses in the romantic languages (no, not like sparkling vampire romance, but languages derived from Latin, such as Spanish, French, and Italian.) It is a free service and offers a simple means of getting the basics of language without the hefty cost of Rosetta Stone.
Then you have other websites that can lead you to more language learning opportunities. Openculture and the Khan Academy would be other examples. This kind of exposure to other languages would have, once upon a time, been very difficult to encounter. Now it’s available and free for anyone with access to the internet.
If all goes well, you may be able to sing along to this song. Good luck, explorer.
What is it to study abroad for a semester? My good friend Marcello summed it up as “fun with words.” I agree completely.
Let’s unpack this. Words are not considered fun by many people. They can be clumsy, large, difficult to remember, and ultimately unfit to express what one feels or thinks. This is the view of someone who has never truly experienced F.W.W. Language becomes burdensome, associated with school and grammar lessons with a stringent Ms. Wormwood (or some such curmudgeon).
Here’s how I’ll explain my experience: when I decided to take a semester off from my English major to study Italian my reasoning was that I would be taking a break from the routine. Which I did. What I didn’t expect was how it would circle back to my love of letters.
In learning a language I inevitably reflected on my own. The language to which I had become so habituated through (ironically) my studies in literature and writing came alive to me in a new light. Looking at my own abilities in the language, I note a few places lacking: primarily my vocabulary. To amend this, I will commence a study of GRE vocabulary (a two-birds-with-one-stone sort of deal) and also utilize freerice.com, a website with a good use and good cause.
The next time you are trying to express yourself, take a moment to appreciate the miracle of language and what it accomplishes for us. In this way, it may be a bit harder to misuse this tool. In the words of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the pen is mightier than the sword.
I’m tempted to write this post in Italian, but I figured I would cut out your stop to Google Translate in the interest of time. Before I go on, you should know a few things about me. I’m a Creative Writing Major. My classes consist of reading literature and writing both research papers and works of fiction. Except for one class–la lingua di Italiano.
I have studied the language and culture of Italy for the past two years, and fallen in love with that boot shaped country. Professoressa Lucchi-Reister is behind the magic of the class. A native to Rome, she has worked diligently with me and my classmates to help us to enter into the historically rich culture of Italy.
In the interest of pursuing this part of my education, I plan on studying abroad there in the spring. This is a fine example of how Butler encourages its students to expand their horizons beyond their major, to develop a more holistic understanding of the world, and the communities that surround us. I’ll leave you with this short video, one my favorite examples of the idiosyncrasies of the Italian culture.