Thursday, August 11, 2011

Learning Italian

We are going to Rome for a few days in the Autumn. This gives me a good excuse to try and learn Italian, and for me this means another Michel Thomas course.

This will be my fourth. Each time I start from a position of complete ignorance, so anything I learn makes a huge difference. I took my first Michel Thomas courses in German nine years ago: I started with the 'Foundation' (which takes about eight hours) and then went on to the 'Builder' (about four hours). This was in readiness for my trips to Germany to research for my Wegener and Hoffmann books. Although most of the people I spoke to in Germany turned out to be fluent in English, when I went to what was formerly East Germany there were a few non-English speakers. It was then that the course came into its own, and it gave me a little confidence as I tried to communicate there.

My next Michel Thomas course, in 2004, was in Spanish. The Michel Thomas method concentrates on the South American version of Spanish which was great as far as I was concerned since I was planning on heading for Patagonia. This time I found myself cramming the course into a couple of days. Even so I found that enough of it stuck, and I managed to make myself understood (with hand signals and drawings) in a place where few people spoke English.

In 2009 I did the Mandarin Chinese course. I found this one, using Michel Thomas's method, but with Harold Goodman teaching it, just as entertaining as the courses in German and Spanish. In fact it was my favourite (I think because it was so different). I enjoyed it so much that I did the advanced and vocabulary courses on the flight over - and some of the people I met did claim they understood me. But then the Chinese are famously polite...

So today the Foundation Italian course came.The courses have been revised recently, and now include a couple of review lessons at the end. This is an excellent idea, and something I felt was missing from the original.

So, looking back over the last decade, I am a little surprised to see that I have attempted to learn five foreign languages (this includes Welsh which I learnt in Lampeter). It is a little bizarre since I have no aptitude for languages at all. I suppose the fact that I have enjoyed my attempts, and feel keen to try yet another is all due to the genius of Michel Thomas.


Blogger Jud said...

I have forgotten the little German I learned over the years, and the many Spanish-speakers I work with from all over the world are trying to work on their English so I have not learned much Spanish, whether of the Mexican, Peruvian, Venezuelan, Argentinian, or Sapanish (Madrid) varieties.

Thu Aug 11, 09:20:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Hello again Jud! Lovely to hear from you again. I suspect I have forgotten the French I learnt at school. I keep thinking I should try the Michel Thomas in that too because I hope some it might come back.

Yes, I guess all those varieties of Spanish might be a little different. I hadn't thought of that before.

Thu Aug 11, 10:30:00 pm  

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