Learning a new language is a challenging and exciting feat especially when the language is significant to your family heritage. As an Italian American who only speaks English, I was always interested in the Italian language. Three of my four grandparents are second-generation Italian Americans who speak conversational Italian because of their parents. However, neither of my parents know any Italian, so the basic conversational skills in the language were lost. When I entered college, I had one goal: to immerse myself in my family’s culture and learn Italian.
Fortunately, my college has an Italian program and an Italian Studies major. Before the summer of my first year, I knew I wanted to sign up to take Italian for my language requirement. At my school, each student is required to take three semesters of a language, unless they place out of the requirement which indicates proficient knowledge of another language. Italian would be my first foreign language studied, so I had to go through the whole requirement starting in elementary Italian 101. I was excited to study Italian, but I was nervous since I had never learned a foreign language.
The first week of Italian class was difficult. We learned how to pronounce words in Italian and the differences between English and Italian pronunciations confused me. I did not expect to understand the language during my first week, but I was defeated by my lack of comprehension of basic grammar.
After that first week of classes, I went to my professor for help. He provided me with tips to learn pronunciation which eventually helped me understand more Italian words and grammar. Later that week, we had our first quiz on chapter one of the textbook. I remember being nervous for the quiz, but I studied every day for an hour and I received an ‘A’ on my first Italian quiz!
Italian soon became my favorite subject in school and I enjoyed every single class. My interest in Italian grew when I joined our school’s Italian club where we host various Italian events for the campus. The entire Italian department is a close-knit community which drew me into the Italian language and culture even more.
It has been a year since I started my journey in learning the Italian language and culture. In the future, I plan to take more Italian courses and eventually I will study abroad in Bologna. I feel accomplished for acquiring an understanding of my ancestors’ language because I want to preserve my family’s heritage for future generations to appreciate their Italian roots. Buona vacanza.