“I’m not coming back.”
This is what I was thinking while the teacher was teaching us about “how to become better writers” in a language class.
I had been abroad studying at a UK university for about a month, yet I felt m English language skills weren’t improving much –yes, I’ve learned English just like you are learning Italian now!
And this language class wasn’t really helping me either.
To be honest, nothing was helping, really.
I had reached a point where all the textbooks, the classes and the formal learning I was doing were not as helpful (or interesting!) anymore.
I was experiencing a plateau in my learning and, deep down, I know I needed something different…
But what exactly!?
Well, for sure, these were the three things I wanted:
To express myself in my foreign language with more ease (without sounding like a textbook!)
To discuss things that sparked my interest without getting stuck (and ditch the boring stuff we were talking in class, e.i. “What’s your favourite TV show?” “But…I don’t watch TV!!!”)!
To challenge myself and explore the language in ways that the material targeted to learners wasn’t allowing me to do anymore.
Yet, I hadn’t managed to find something that was helping to solve these issues!
Also, whilst living abroad, I was going through a pretty challenging emotional period…
I was in that limbo where, despite starting to feel safer (as I was getting more familiar with my surroundings), I also started to feel pretty lonely, because I hadn’t made any good friends yet.
(If you ever moved abroad on your own you know what I’m talking about and that’s also a post for another time!).
So, I desperately wanted to improve my language skills in order to make more *real* friends in that foreign country.
And all these language + emotional challenges combined were hitting on my confidence level pretty hard.
Then, one random day, whilst feeling pretty overwhelmed, I came across a video online explaining “the three different level of confidence”.
I obviously clicked on it and… I was hooked.
A British guy in the video was explaining the whole “confidence” concept in pretty eloquent English (which I so desperately wanted to improve) and his speech was very clear and easy to follow.
I enjoyed the video so much that I soon got into a rabbit hole of videos featuring the same person explaining all things related to confidence, human psychology and similar interesting stuff.
Plus, these concepts were all explained from a British point of view which gave me a good insight into how a British person would deal with the issues and the scenarios presented.
I felt I had discovered a whole new world which led me to a whole new way of learning a language too.
Basically, by learning about an interesting topic (confidence building and human psychology) in my target language…
I also found that engaging material in my target language I was looking for, which I could learn from (no more boring, unrelated textbook stuff).
I was expanding my variety of vocabulary (with words that sounded natural, not words from a textbook).
I was being exposed to authentic language spoken by a real person (who naturally spoke with a neutral accent which was exactly what I needed, at that point in time).
And in addition to the above, that particular type of content was also teaching me very important skills that helped me navigate the foreign world I was in… with much more confidence!
This kind of “experiential language learning” was one of the things that helped me getting beyond my intermediate plateau and really helped me make the foreign language my own.
And it is also what inspired me to create, years later, the methodology that I currently use to help folks like you learn to speak Italian (my native language!).
Because the truth is when you get to that level where you don’t resonate anymore with learners’ material, it’s time to marry Italian learning with something else that really sparks your interest, so that you can get over your intermediate plateau and communicate with more ease.
So…if you are learning Italian, start thinking:
“With what else could I combine my Italian learning today?”
Let me know in the comments below.
P.S. Experiential language learning is what I help my students do when they reach an intermediate/advanced level. If you’d love to explore topics such as personal development, (Italian) lifestyle, creativity, art and culture (all in Italian language), shoot me a message here and I’ll tell you how we do it!
P.P.S. If you’ve enjoyed this content, you need to know that you can find it all in Italian (with audio) in my newsletter. Subscribe here so you don’t miss next one.