AMERICAN ENTREPRENEUR explains WHY learning Italian is IMPORTANT

In this video we bring you another testimony of the benefits of our individual Italian courses: Mahesh Paolini-Subramanya, CTO at BlockFi, who is in love with Italy, especially with Italian food! Mahesh will tell us about his experience with the Italian language and will give some useful advice to our LearnAmici.

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Is learning Italian useful?

Below you will find the transcription of the interview that we had with Mahesh:

Hello Mahesh! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi everybody! I’m Mahesh Paolini-Subramanya. Yes, as you can see, my name is half Italian and half Indian!

How long have you been studying Italian?

I have been studying Italian for about 15 years now, but I’ve been doing it seriously for the last two years. At first I didn’t attach any importance to it, I thought I had to learn Italian because I wanted to go to Italy. But finally, two years ago, I decided enough was enough. I started learning Italian seriously and I decided to try, even just a little bit, to become Italian.

Why do you have an Italian surname?

Because my wife is Italian. She’s American but her soul is fully Italian, as she lived in Italy 20 years ago, more precisely  in Bologna. A few years back, I visited Italy for the first time. I went to Venice, but it was constantly raining and therefore not that beautiful. But then, after meeting Nikki, my wife, I realised that Italy was beautiful, and that its food was perfect.

We know you’re a good eater!

Yes, I am indeed! I really enjoy it when I’m in Italy because the food tastes amazing everywhere. In fact, I must admit that the main reason why I have decided to seriously learn Italian is because of Italian restaurants. In Italy, when you go to a restaurant, the food is a big part of the process. Even meeting the owner, the waiter, discussing the specials, the wine and the reviews are important parts of the experience of eating in a restaurant.

Do you feel at home in Italy?

Yes, I certainly do! When I said I’ve only been to Italy once I was wrong; in fact I’ve been there twice, once in Venice and again in Sicily, during the 90s. At that time Sicily was not a very safe place. I wasn’t afraid to be there, but I had the feeling that I was in the wrong place. But not now! Two years ago, if I’m not mistaken, I was there for the wedding of a friend. We stayed in Sicily for a week and we visited some incredible places where people were friendly and pleasant.

Which is your favorite Italian city?

It has to be Bologna! I love it so much that my wife and I bought a flat there. We are planning to spend six months in America and six months in Bologna when we retire, moving around and visiting all of Italy.

Oh, by the way, if like Mahesh, you would like to take individual Italian classes with me, remember that you can either book through our website or through italki. Italki is a language learning platform with hundreds of qualified native speakers, including me of course! On italki, booking your individual Italian lessons is very easy! All you have to do is select the day and time from the calendar and that’s it! By the way, to celebrate its 14th anniversary, italki is giving away $140 to spend on lessons. Isn’t that great? With $140 you can get a bunch of free lessons with me. To take full advantage of this offer and get $140 you just need to sign up to italki. I’ll be waiting for you!

Which methods do you use to practise your Italian?

I watch videos on YouTube, movies, TV series… in Italian of course! I try to read Italian books and speak Italian with my friends, but unfortunately I have to work and I have to sleep, two things that are very important! I have some Italian employees, so whenever I have to talk to them we can have a little chat in Italian. However, it is really difficult for me since I don’t know any technical Italian words and therefore I usually come up with half Italian and half English words.

What difficulties have you experienced with Italian?

When I first started learning Italian, I took English as a reference point since it is my first language and it was very natural for me. But after almost a year I realised that it was easier to make Indian languages my reference point, since they are very similar to Italian. Perhaps the most difficult thing for me in Italian is using the correct gender and number of the words. Another difficulty is vocabulary. I have now noticed that I can say anything I want with the words that I know, even if not perfectly. However, I know that there are more suitable words that I can use, and I want to learn them. I realise that my Italian did not exist two years ago. I knew a few words but when I spoke, I usually used 30% Italian and 70% English and 90% of what I said was wrong! It was very difficult, but now thanks to your help, I feel comfortable when speaking Italian.

The first two sentences which I’ve learned are: “I don’t know how to say this” and “I am sure this is wrong”. I also knew how to say “I would like a glass of wine”. Such important sentences! Jokes aside, I have to say that when it comes to Italy, the culture, the passion about things, the style and fashion, the history, but above all the variety from place to place are really important. There is always something different to do in Italy. A palace to visit, a café where you can sit and watch the people around you… There are so many things to do, and life is not long enough for all the things I want to do! But what I want to do right now is to learn Italian and to spend some time in Italy with a proper Italian.

What would you like to say to our LearnAmici?

Always remember why you chose to learn Italian. Learning a language is one of the keys to fully understand the culture of a country. When learning a language becomes an obligation you should stop and do something different.

Thank you so much Mahesh for accepting my invitation and doing this interview! Thank you for all the advice and messages you’ve shared with all the other students!

Thank you! There is only one thing I have to say to your students: you should read Italian books and watch Italian films. You absolutely have to forget about other languages.

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