The right mindset when learning a language

Small goals and baby steps when learning a language 2

Often in conversations around the Italian language I hear the words ‘hard’, ‘I can’t speak’, “I don’t understand’, “It’s too difficult” and “I have no one to practice with”. These comments always push me to think of different ways and tools I can put in place to teach this wonderful language in the easiest and most motivating way possible.

And yes, there are ways of simplifying content, ways of making it entertaining. There are apps, books, audiobooks, courses, movies, songs and private lessons.

But there could be that there is a missing ingredient, or two.

Let's look into this (mmm vediamo....).

The first things is the motivation to learn the language.

What is the reason behind your wanting to learn Italian?

I think it's important to find out what your SPECIFIC motivation is, so that you can direct all your efforts in achieving that specific target.

For instance, if you are travelling to Italy for a month, you might like to learn a few basic things, let’s say 3 sentences a week, thus avoiding spending time memorising words or sentences you don't even use in English. Be very specific on the material you pick up and you will achieve that. Just saying "I have to learn some Italian" is too vague. "I want to learn 3 sentences a week for the next 4 weeks" sounds more achievable, doesn’t it?

eating an elephant one bite at a time

Image courtesy of Comindwork 


Deciding to pick up a language just for the “sake of it” or for the “challenge of it” might become like one of those undertakings that have no clear target, no end goal. This often leads to quitting.

How often have we purchased online courses we abandon after the first class? How often have we started something with no idea why?

Instead, set up smaller goals, and set yourself up to complete that small course you just paid for.

Here are some small goals you can take on in your "I'm learning Italian" journey:

  • What about writing a letter to an Italian person, a distant relative or even a pen pal? 

At a time when I was learning French my high school organised pen pals for us. I can’t tell you how much I picked up in those few letters and how much extra care I put into my writing. There are sites that offer a pen pal service if you don't have an Italian friend or relative.

  • Another goal could be to join an Italian Facebook group and post one sentence a week and see how you go. Then take the feedback and try again. Try Italian Students (

  • Another way of testing how far you have come is to memorise a section of an Italian song and sing along. You will be surprised at how good you will feel - That's how I learnt most of my English, by the way.

Don’ just listen and read in the quiet of your room and your head. Instead create. Create a sentence and communicate it to another person. Create a sentence and speak it, write it to another person, sing it out. Although scary at first, this is a step you definitely have to take sooner or later. Why not start now? Write me a comment here ... in Italian.

Baby steps will take you far. I now offer free mini sessions (done online) to anyone interested is setting up real goals in their Italian learning journey. Simply click below and you have made the first baby step.

Click to schedule a free mini session


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