When you love learning a language enough to have it fill your free time, then your passion can truly blossom.
I think I hit the jackpot there with Italian. The quote above was taken from Benny Lewis' newly released book, FLUENT IN 3 MONTHS (page 15). Italian (such a beautiful language!) completely consumed my life for a year and then more. Everything I did and do revolve around it.
Following the "trigger" by my first Italian friend from Milan who also happened to be my travel buddy to Bangkok, Thailand, (oh yes, if you're into travel, please also visit and follow my updates at The Weekend Traveler) I started by researching online for free materials. I found the BBC Italian language portal and started studying the free online course. Another awesome online resource is About.com Italian portal.
I'm very "audio" when I learn a language because listening to the sound is important to me. I started subscribing to YouTube videos for music and took advantage of my Netflix account to stream Italian movies. At that point in time, everything I sourced for my Italian self-learning were free (except for Netflix because I'm already paying a monthly subscription fee for it).
The more I study, the deeper I fell in love with it. I started buying books. Lots of books. My main reference materials and workbooks are from the McGraw Hill's "Practice Makes Perfect" series. I kept adding other books including the For Dummies series to my personal library, and formed quite an extensive collection. When I was in Italy for a month last year, I brought home almost a luggage of books and dictionaries, all in 100% Italian. I'm proud to say by that time, I'm already able to understand and read Italian books and magazines. Speaking of magazines, I made great use of my Zinio online magazine subscription so Italian editions of Vogue, L'Impresa, Cosmopolitan, Elle and a few more cater to my leisure reading. All these magazines at super affordable price minus the clutter. I'm talking about a year's subscription for the price of one physical issue if I were to buy them from a bookstore. Foreign magazines are expensive.
Last but not least, communicating with the natives. I started making more friends, especially on Babbel, an online language learning website. It is here I found my regular chat buddy who doesn't know a word of English, so I'm forced to speak only in Italian with him. It works fabulously well as an immersion tactic.
All of the above have been in progress for more than a year now and I assure you, they work marvelously well. At least to me they do. So when I reached page 16 of Benny's book, I was nodding my head like crazy because he, too, speaks of all the methods I've been using! Looks like I'll be redeploying them for my other language projects too. I can't wait to unearth more as I race through his book. Buono studio e buon lavoro!
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