I took the train up to Florence for the weekend to meet one of my good Australian friends, who had just arrived in Italy for the first time. It was wonderful to speak English again and so great to laugh and joke in our way with our sayings where we only have to look at one another and both get the joke!

When learning and speaking another language, it is really hard to express your humour as you never quite get the words right and it does not sound funny to the natives so I am often laughing to myself and I cannot share it as humour needs precise words to be comical and if you are not a native this is quite difficult….

To learn another language, one needs to develop courage, fortitude and humility. One has to become humble as at times you are bought to your knees with situations that develop. To not be able to express yourself is, at times very frustrating and challenging. One has to give away all pretence of being noble or arrogant and let go of all the social categories that you class yourself in when back home e.g educated or cultured. It is actually a good spiritual lesson and a great way to grow in personal development on the journey to discovering yourself – who you really are!!

You have to be prepared to assume the characteristics of, being viewed at times by the natives, as the class idiot, to whom people speak slowly.. as your brain is a bit damaged ..or even a deaf person who is spoken to with a raised volume. A curious thing is that ignorant people who have never tried to learn a language, think that shouting the words will make it clearer…..

People will frown at you as you speak, trying to understand what you are saying…You might also be subjected to racism.
I was in a group of Puteolano, (people from Pozzuoli- this village has its own dialect which is different to the 2 km up the road dialect) the other day who were speaking dialect. My lovely fruit man Peppe kept saying to them “Speak Italiano not dialetto/dialect.” The natives were too busy loudly chatting away (Italian language is very energetic) but he kept trying and finally shouted at them to shut them up and with strong hand language, “Speak Italian!!”

Finally the natives heard the shouting and turned to me and said, Where are you from and when I told them then they were interested and started speaking Italian – thank God as it was a bit dull just standing there only watching their sign language!!
However with all the challenging things mentioned above, there are so many wonderful aspects about learning a language – it is so good for the brain and memory. It is so interesting learning, all the time, new words and it is so wonderful when you can actually get to the other side where you can say a whole sentence with the correct grammar.

There are little challenges and victories all along the way. I absolutely love the Italian language – it is so beautiful to the ear – the cadence and it makes me feel happy . It is almost like singing and they say one cannot be sad when either singing or dancing. It is so wonderful when you can join in Italian conversations and your opinion listened to.

I do not know if I will ever be able to get to the level where I can read Italian novels but when I go into an Italian bookshop, this motivates me to keep trying, to keep persevering as I love books. It is a never ending learning curve just as it is in English – I still am learning new words in English – aren’t you?