So you wanna learn English?

Obviously, the marketing bods reckon that zillions of Italians have discovered that their knowledge of my good old mother tongue is not quite up to scratch, which is why, and it happens every year in this period, the TV screens are starting to fill up with adverts trying to persuade you to buy some cd rom/DVD based English course.

They must sell quite a few of these courses, at least they must sell about the first five installments, after which time the long struggling students run out of enthusiasm, get frustrated or just resign themselves the fact that they never will get a good handle on the language, and start collecting firemen of the word figurines (see previous post).

Learning a language is a little like getting fit, stick at it and you will make progress. However, in the same vain, even though you can run 10 kilometres on the running machine, this does not mean that you can do it out on a real hard road, or where there are proper, and not electronic hills. The same goes for a language – you can study for hours, but when someone puts you on the spot, you will find, more often than not, that all your hard work seems to have been futile. There is no easy solution, like losing weight. You need to find a way of using what you know, and this, I know and sympathise greatly with all those struggling to learn my language, is one heck of a difficult thing to do. I am always being asked if I know of places where people can go and meet mother tongue English speakers, but, alas, I do not know of such places and even if I did, I can’t imagine it being easy to spark up a conversation.

There is almost a business opportunity here. A sort of club in which English mother tongue speakers are paid to walk around and make conversation. Knowing a good few English teachers, I think I could safely say that the offer of a few pounds and a few free beers would persuade them to go around chatting to all and sundry. Only, if you are someone who wishes to benefit from such an experience, I would recommend getting to the place early in the evening. Later on, the conversation on offer will become distinctly incoherent!

If you really do want to learn English, find a good teacher, attend as many lessons as you possibly can and put yourself in the position of having to speak the language as often as possible. Otherwise, don’t waste money on courses.

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