Learning languages and then messing up with them

Since April, when I started this new blog, I’ve been thinking of a way to give it a different and original shape, to make it sexier and (if possible) a place where people would come to find useful tips for what they need.

In an era when even my hamster Facebooks, Twitters and has its own blog (it’s called “Running for Nothing”, check it out), I find it quite hard to find an original idea which would be also sexy and helpful. I ought to probably just stick to the type of I-write-about-everything-and-nothing blog, which at times can be interesting for readers, others it’s just a way to practise my typing skills.

The idea of leading my blog to take the turn that I hope it will take, crossed my mind after reading this article by Cordelia Hebblethwaite which then took me to Ben Yagoda’s blog about the way Americans are using always more British words.

I know something about differences between American and British English. Well, no. Actually, I’m erring in what I’ve just stated and I risk sounding too cheeky: the truth is that with my little English, I know naught about it. I’d better rephrase.

I’m obviously not an English native-speaker and I think I can breakdown my language learning excursus as follows:
10% at school
40% as a self-learner, by watching American movies, American TV series and writing letters to my many American pen-pals (actually, one was Australian). On this, the Internet helped me enormously: I was a forerunner of the online learning (other than a forerunner of video-blogging as mentioned here)!
50% living and working in London, which is still an on-going thing (both the living and working as well as the learning part)

Thus my (Italo)English has been influenced by both the Americans and the Brits and I often don’t know which part the vocabulary I use belongs to. I so ended up being laugh at in Boston when offering some of my crisps to my cousin or when talking about my new trousers that I had bought the same morning. Or when I went to Sainsbury (big UK grocery store) and asked for an eggplant or when I said to one of my best Brit girl-friends that if she hadn’t behaved, I would have slapped her fanny (in the American meaning of the word!) to which she looked at me horrified and stepped back.

What does all of this have to do with my blog’s new shape? Nothing really, the first part was just typing skill practising.

Ben’s blog made me consider (other that I probably know only 2% of the language) what one of my biggest passions is: languages. The way they work, the way they behave and the way we learn them. I recently chose a book to keep me company on my journey to the office, by the unattractive title “An Introduction to Applied Linguistic”. Mental. Of course, as a logic consequence of learning a language, I’m passionate about cultural exchanges as well.

Now, how can I shape my blog around this? A blog where people may go to learn Italian phrases perhaps? Not original and there are tons on the net. A blog where people can find tips on how to learn English? Well, I do work for the biggest language learning provider in the world, I would risk some sort of conflict of interests. Moreover, there are even more than tons of blogs for that on the net. Quite frankly, I don’t want to have the presumption to know how to teach somebody a language, either Italian or English, but perhaps I’ve gained some valuable experience when it comes to how I personally learnt it and taught it myself. At least with me, it worked. Before moving to the UK, before going to America, before studying it in university, what taught me lots of new words and phrases (apart from movies) had been translating my favourite songs’ lyrics into Italian. I’ll start from there, from translating into English my favourite Italian songs or any other songs I would be asked to translate, even the ones I don’t like. And I’ll also share all these amazing tools I find on the Internet, like Ben’s blog. Last but not least, I want to share those places in Italy that I’m really fond of, where my true bonds are, and that one wouldn’t find on a guide (I considered that perhaps I’m spending too long talking about London and even further places that I’m risking to forget where I come from).

I can’t teach a language (I wish I could), but perhaps I can share with people how I learnt it and help them to give a closer look to my language and the culture it belongs to, the one I come from.

Then I will sit down and have a glance at the shape it took (if I’ll ever get as far as doing all that I’ve just said. I might get bored with it the moment I publish this post). If I like it, I’ll keep going. If I don’t, I’ll just wipe the board off and start over.

I’m really good at that.

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