November 19, 2009 | Italian
Pimsleur Done! Now What?
No Pimsleur lessons remain, so I need another way to improve my oral communication skills.
I have finished all 90 Pimsleur Italian lessons. It took me 19 days.
Now what am I supposed to do?
I am trying to concentrate today on additional Italian studies (books, vocabulary, etc.), but now that I have no more oral lessons left, I am first obsessed with getting a gig—no pay necessary—where I can speak Italian. So today, besides doing a bunch of grammar, I spent a lot of time working on that.
I sent an e-mail, in Italian, to my brother-in-law in Genoa, who used to live in New York. I also called the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce. The guy who answered the phone there was friendly, but said he didn’t think they could use me, as the office is staffed by people who have all been there a long time. I suggested maybe a member organization would be able to find a use for me. He said kindly, “In fact.” I sent him an e-mail.
One option is to do a kind of conversation exchange, where you give someone English coaching in exchange for Italian coaching. I don’t really want to do that, though, because it isn’t as efficient as being around Italian 100 percent of the time. And I would be spending half of the time on something that is specifically not Italian. However, there are many people who want to do this kind of thing, and it is free, both of which recommend it as an approach. So I just sent a few messages, in Italian, to some Italian people who have posted on ConversationExchange.com.
In search of other ideas for work, I called our friend Julian Gargiulo. He is an Italian-American pianist who lives in our building—a spontaneous and creative guy who merges classical piano-playing and often-irreverent humor in his performances. He was busy practicing when I phoned, but said he’d think about Italian options and let me know what he came up with.
One thing did finally work out today: I heard from an Italian man who had posted on Craigslist for an English-for-Italian conversation exchange. I had initially hesitated about writing to him because his online posting, after some reasonably comprehensible though not wholly grammatical text, concluded inexplicably with the words “If you are interested in being felt.” I burst out laughing when I read that. I have taught English to many non-native speakers, so I decided this was an example of a bad translation, not perversion.
Although his original ad was in English, our e-mail exchange today was conducted entirely in Italian, I noticed. Good for me! He seems nice. Craigslist makes me nervous, however, so I am going to meet him in a very public place.
I feel pretty proud of myself for all the messages I sent in Italian today. Four weeks from now, when my grammar is better, I wonder whether I will still be proud. I found a mistake in the one I sent my brother-in-law shortly after it went out (for “we are” I wrote sonno instead of sono). Oh, well.