I pledged August as my first All-Italian language month and I am happy to say, so far, so good.
Well, più o meno.
You know, kind of like the smoker who quits cold turkey, living in a new language 24/7 is an adjustment. I’ve gone through withdrawals, I’ve felt helpless, lonely and frustrated and I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I can kick the English-language habit.
I’ve been inundated with emails and comments of support and have had other expats ask me how it works. So, here’s an update on the funniest, most difficult and most out-of-English-speaking-body moments I’ve had to date.
1. Did I Say That?
Ok, so this happens in Italian even when you aren’t pledging an All-Italian language month, but it makes sense the more you speak Italian-the more embarrassing mistakes you’ll make.
Some of my latest include:
– Lui e finito instead of ha finito, because I was really just trying to tell my husband his dad was finished eating … not that he was, well, finished.
– Pipì e patati instead of pipi e patati (Calabrese dialect), one being the delicious Calabrese blend of peppers and potatoes, the other being, well not something you’d want with your potatoes … or with any meal for that matter.
Most Difficult Moment(s)
1. Remembering to Speak Italian
Although this is getting easier as the weeks pass, one of the hardest things for me was remembering to speak Italian. For the first few days I’d wake up, chat with my husband in English and get dressed, all the while thinking in English. I usually remembered about an hour into my day or about the time I ran into the Italian guests at our bed and breakfast.
2. Helping my Husband Remember to Speak Italian
Even though I’d forget the first hour or so, my husband tends to forget more often. Even when I speak to him in Italian, he responds in English … we’re getting him out of this habit, though.
3. Important Conversations
Possibly even more difficult than remembering to speak Italian is speaking Italian during tough conversations. Sometimes you just wanna talk about something serious-and the Italian words, well, they fail you.
Most Out-of-English-Speaking-Body Moment(s)
1. Ciao Mamma, Come stai?
About a week into my All-Italian language month, I placed my daily call to my mom and felt guilty for speaking English. I had to catch myself several times from answering her in Italian and I actually felt as if I was cheating on my pledge.
2. Uhm … How Do You Say That in English?
Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed how easily I can roll along in Italian and say what I want to say and then … Bam! I lose a word. In the past it was easier for me to remember the word in English and ask my husband for a translation. This is getting increasingly more difficult. Lately when I get to a word I don’t know in Italian, I have to go back through the last sentence in my mind-in English-so I can understand what I was trying to say.
This is a good sign, though, right?
If you have tried an All-Foreign Language Month, how did it go for you? What difficult or funny moments did you encounter?