Have you ever tried to speak with a potato in your mouth?

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A lot of articles have been written about how to learn languages and every one of us has his own strategy: some are using books and studying hard every grammatical rule memorizing it; some listen and take some classes…Today I would try to show you my method, which allowed me to attempt, not one, but two languages in six months. Impossible? Well, no.

Everything started when I had the possibility of studying abroad for 11 months; I didn’t need anything else and took my chance. From Rome I arrived to København, as the Danes call it, and there I had a big trauma: not only by the fact that no one could speak French or Italian, but also Danish was totally un-understandable, a labyrinth of guttural sounds, of vowels which can get you really confused. For example the difference between rød (red) and råd (advise): in the first word the ø is a guttural sound, in the second the å in mostly like open o.

Let’s get back to the strategy. Once I arrived in the family, I found myself isolated: I was the only exchange student in my region, so I had to deal with it. The TV was in Danish or in English with Danish subtitles, the school in Danish as well, the parties in Danish; that is the start.

During the first two months, nothing happened: apart from some words sticking into my mind, I was still really far away from the understanding of a simple sentence. All changed when I found out that my dreams changed language, and I sadly began dreaming in English. At this point, I realized that my mother tongue was replaced by others, so I decided to take classes to understand the grammar and achieve some vocabulary. In the following months, the conversations with my classmates, parents and friends progressively switched language, and also thanks to their patience, I actually attempted my studies in Denmark, as a Danish student.

The secret of this unexpected “escalation” remains unknown for me. Since I got back to Italy, nothing (or almost) of this language left me: my explanation is that the language which I used for two years, took the place of the Italian (I used Italian just while skyping with my parents), and the desire to understand what people were saying with that strange “potato-in-the-mouth” language. So, three main thing to remember: be isolated from your mother tongue, be curious and be yourself!

But this is my experience, so if you have other ways to learn languages or discover new languages, share them with us!

[Italiano]

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