One of the questions that Italian teachers get asked more frequently is: “how do I learn and improve the Italian language?”. To answer this complicated question, we interviewed a person who succeeded in the difficult challenge of learning Italian as a second language. The interviewee, Marta Tardáguila Del Castillo, a native Spanish speaker, will describe her experience and give us some interesting tips. Let’s get started!
INTERVIEW with BILINGUAL MARTA
In this interview, the native Spanish speaker Marta Tardáguila Del Castillo, who managed to get the Italian language certification PLIDA C2 level, will explain to us how she learned Italian perfectly.
G: The first question is obvious: how long have you been studying Italian?
M: I’ve been studying Italian for more than ten years. If you consider that I started in school, it has been for a lot of years!
G: So, as you can tell, you don’t have to worry if after one year or two you still can’t speak Italian very well because Marta is proof of the fact that you need much more time. What kind of materials did you use to learn the Italian language? Courses, books, private lessons?
M: A little bit of everything because, as I said, I’ve been studying it for more than ten years: I took some courses while I was in school, some group courses at university, private lessons here in Bari with my teacher Francesca Menna. I also used some books, online materials, I watched some movies, and I lived in Italy, which is the most important thing.
G: What prompted you to learn the Italian language?
M: In the beginning, I just liked the language and then when I decided to come to Italy, I also decided to improve my Italian.
G: What was the most significant grammar difficulty for you? For example, a lot of my students have problems with the subjunctive. Is it the same for you too?
M: No, to be honest, I don’t think I have problems with the subjunctive. However, I still have problems with double consonants, prepositions, and complement pronouns. I’m still a bit uncertain about this topic.
G: It’s true, prepositions are also a topic that creates difficulties, even though they’re studied during the first lessons. In the beginning, when you arrived here in Italy, were you afraid of speaking?
M: Yes, very much. When I arrived here in Italy, I had been studying Italian for several years. So I knew how to communicate, but I didn’t say a word because I was scared. Then, little by little, by going to the pizzeria, bar, and stores, I started to loosen up.
G: Did you make some friends?
M: Yes, of course. It was incredibly important because I’m not sure if you know that Spanish people tend to stick together. However, in this case, it’s not a positive thing because you have to engage with Italians if you want to learn the Italian language. Actually, this tip applies to any language.
G: It’s true. So, do you have Italian friends?
M: Yes, many!
G: Now, Marta, a bit of an uncomfortable question: which language do you prefer between Italian and Spanish?
M: I don’t know. Well, Spanish is my native language, but right now, Italian is the language that I use every day in my daily life. Therefore, I can’t choose. I’m sorry. Both!
G: Many believe that the Spanish language and the Italian language are very similar and have pretty easy grammar. Therefore, they think that learning Italian is easy for a Spanish person and vice versa. What do you think about this?
M: Yes, and no. Well, as a matter of fact, the two languages are very similar, and this helps, especially at the beginning, because when people start studying a new language, they want to understand and speak right away. It’s something that makes you want to go on. However, you have to be careful: this similarity can lead to confusion, false friends, and other things that make us make mistakes. So, it’s easy, but you shouldn’t “confiarse”…
G: Non bisogna adagiarsi sugli allori.
M: Yes, that one. Exactly!
G: What causes you interference with Spanish? A grammar topic or maybe a word…
M: Probably the lexis because a lot of words are similar, but some terms create confusion because they are masculine in Italian, but they are feminine in Spanish and vice versa. And you know these things, but then sometimes you forget, and you say them wrong.
G: Oh yeah. Since we’ve talked about false friends, I wanted to announce to our LearnAmici that we’ll record a video on Marta’s channel “BurbujaDELEspañol” about false friends in Italian and Spanish. I’ll try to speak Spanish for the first time since I’ve never studied it.
M: It will be fine!
G: Another question for you: what is your favorite Italian book?
M: Difficult, very difficult question! I read a lot in Italian: Italian authors, but also translations. Among Italian authors, I really like Baricco, and a book that I truly enjoyed is “Oceano Mare”.
G: So would you recommend it?
M: Yes! It was a bit difficult even for me, but it was also very helpful because I learned a lot of new words. Moreover, when I started studying Italian, one of my first teachers recommended reading Stefano Benni’s books.
G: Okay, so would you recommend this too?
G: Well, at this point, you have to read a book that will beat Alessandro Baricco in your personal ranking.
M: Tell me, I’m curious!
G: It’s LearnAmo’s book: “Italiano Colloquiale: Parole ed Espressioni per Tutti i Giorni”.
M: I can’t wait!
G: Perfect, I’ll send it to you because there might be some new words that you don’t know and that you could use in your daily life.
M: Very well, then you send it with a nice dedication, and I’ll let you know.
G: Absolutely! And to conclude this interview, Marta, what advice would you give to someone who is learning the Italian language?
M: I’ll give you a simple advice: do not give up. Learning a language is a wonderful experience; however, it is a slow and long journey because learning a language is not just about being able to speak, but also about knowing everything about it: the books, the culture, the food… So, you can start studying it and already be able to use it; but in order to claim that you actually know the language, you have to study for many years. So, patience and don’t give up!
G: Well, I have finished my questions, but if you have some others, you can ask them in the comments: Marta will read them and answer them directly.
M: Sure! I also invite you to take a look at my channel about the Spanish language “BurbujaDELEspañol”.
G: Oh yes! We recorded a video for her channel, and it should be fun! So, be sure not to miss it!
We hope that this interview can encourage those who are studying or want to start studying the Italian language. The journey will be long but full of satisfaction: Marta’s word!
If you want to have a laugh, watch the video in which Graziana speaks Spanish with Marta!