2014 starts with my very first Italian Job. I start a 2 month programme learning how to run a business effectively from an established entrepreneur in Italy. This is a brilliant opportunity to develop my skills technically, tackle topics that are tough for me like business development and build connections in the EU.
Just 1 small blip in my grand plan – I don’t speak any Italian! Most people find it quite amusing that I have no grasp of the language, after all this is business and whilst the world speaks English I am not on holiday and speaking slower and louder will not earn me respect from my new business colleagues.
Initially I was un-phased; I can get a programme and learn on line – how hard can it be? It turns out very… I am at lesson 5 on duolingo and quite frankly tenses and possessive nouns are nonsense! You get 3 hearts for each lesson to allow for mistakes and I am ‘No heart Charlotte’! Stuck and unable to move forward and I could not work out why. (Cue tantrum and small panic attack)
My niece is 2 ½ and bi-lingual thanks to the persistence of her Costa Rican Mum who ensures she is immersed in both English and Spanish. Her development is amazing and got me thinking – what is her approach to learning as it is clearly far more successful than mine?
A bit of research tells me that children build different speech centres in their brains for each language and do this up till the age of 12, this allows them to tap in to the language easily and apparently without an accent. I am sure there are lots of other brain development facts that link in to this but watching my niece learn there are a few things she does that I don’t:
- She learns without fear – testing out new words repeatedly till they feel right or checking the correct word for what she wants to say
- She doesn’t care if she gets it right first time, just keeps going and practicing
- She is attentive all of the time when learning from others. Listening intently, watching how we move our mouths and then testing it out herself.
My learning is hampered by the fear of making a mistake, looking like a fool and I am so busy thinking about the next thing that I don’t listen properly making it so much harder to hear and absorb the words and their meanings.
The New Year starts with my Italian adventure, I have set myself a new year’s resolution to change the way I learn. What lessons can you take from the freedom of a 2 year olds approach to learning to make yourself equally fabulous?