Learning Italian at the Local Library

November 8, 2013

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I feel that I have a unique problem here in Milan. By this I mean that because I use English at my job, at least 4 hours a day, I have to be very creative in how I go about learning Italian. I am able to practice what I already know, of course, but acquiring new vocabulary and grammar structures are the tricky parts. Since I am here teaching English in Milan, I don’t have Italian language classes that I get to attend everyday or outings in which I can take in the culture. You can therefore understand why I have had to get a bit inventive when it comes to actively learning Italian.

Learning Italian at the Local Library.

My best, and most precious advice for those of you who are in the same situation is this: get yourselves a library card! If your host countries are anything like Italy then the only thing you can count on is the fact that at some point, nothing is going to work. This especially goes for technology. Oftentimes I am limited in the number of hours in which I have access to the Internet, and this makes both my job as a teacher and as an Italian language learner very trying. Having access to an unlimited number of books and movies, all in Italian, has been a great opportunity–especially because they’re all absolutely free! Living in Italy, where the euro is worth more than the dollar, I certainly appreciate free.

Learning Italian at the Local Library.

To date, I have enjoyed the Italian dubbings of Molto Incinta (Knocked Up), Quando L’Amore Brucia L’Anima  (Walk the Line), Il Buio Oltre La Siepe (To Kill A Mockingbird) and Vacanze Romane (Roman Holiday). I had a Gregory Peck phase going on last week. My point is that most of us are not going to have the money to go to the movie theater every Saturday or the time needed to learn how to manipulate our computers’ VPN codes to get Netflix abroad. The library is a great public resource so per cortesia, use it! You may even come to make friends with the local librarians!

Sopratutto (above all else) said librarians will be very impressed that you have taken the time to become involved in the community. For those of you who are a little bit more introverted, you’ll still be fine because you’ll be going to the library. You technically don’t have to talk to people therefore any excuse is invalid. I myself am a bit of a bookworm so finding likeminded people that can meet at the same place throughout the week has been great as I (attempt to) immerse myself in Italian society.

Learning Italian at the Local Library.

If your language skills are developing at a basic level, don’t worry! Any library will also have a children’s section with lots of easy-to-read books in your host country’s language. No one is going know that the books are for you unless you tell them, so again, I say your protests are invalid! Read Il Gatto e Il Cappello Matto (The Cat in the Hat) or Prosciutto e Uova Verdi (Green Eggs and Ham).  I’m not going to tell, and if anything, I shall applaud your excellent choice in literature.

About L. Gabrielle Castagno

Gabrielle Castagno began traveling at the age of 16, and has been hooked ever since. Gabrielle has ventured to over 9 different countries, most recently residing in Milan, Italy where she was an ESL teacher. She now works with a refugee resettlement agency in Dallas, Texas and is involved with numerous human rights initiatives throughout the US. A dual Italian-American citizen, Gabrielle hopes to return to Italy soon, to work with refugees there.

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