During the day they seem harmless, kind and affable:
“We just want to help you.”
“We are here to improve your Italian.”
“We love you. Come here, we’ll have a lot of fun.”
But as soon as sunset ends and twilight begins, those who in the daylight seemed to be your allies in learning Italian, turn into vampires.
Vampires, who suck your precious time.
Let’s get some garlic and discover what are some of the biggest time wasters, that slow down your progress when learning Italian.
1 Random lists of words and phrases
Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right.
Just because nobody does it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
The internet is a widespread ocean. It’s like being at a huge bazar, where everyone screams to get your attention.
This is no exception in the language learning world. Every second your screen bombards you with videos, posts, articles that want to teach you the most useful and sophisticated words and phrases in Italian.
“How do you say this in Italian?”
“56 difficult phrases that native speakers use every day!”
Stop for a moment, breathe and think:
What will I do with these phrases?
I watched a video of one or even 10 minutes, but where will these disconnected phrases and words take me without any context?
Isn’t that exactly how we learned languages in school?
Countless lists of random words to memorize.
If you don’t use content with rich context, that really interests you, you will make no progress in learning Italian.
2 Fancy alternatives for words and phrases
The festival of random words and phrases continues.
But this time I’m talking about a trend, which unfortunately has already been going on for too long:
“Don’t say that, it’s too trivial, it’s too boring, instead use these advanced alternatives, so you will become a native speaker and as a bonus you will grow wings to fly”
Well, that bit with the wings is fictional.
Anyway, I advise you with all my intellectual honesty not to follow these profiles, or at least, not to watch these videos.
What’s wrong with saying: “Posso farti una domanda?” instead of “Posso porti una domanda”?
Or: „Convalido il biglietto del bus“ instead of „Oblitero il biglietto del bus“.
Again, what’s boring when you say: “Come stai?”
There is a reason why these words and phrases are used in everyday life.
That’s the point: These are frequent, not “easy” words. Every Italian on earth would use them.
The fancy alternatives are not “difficult”, but just less frequent and possibly more suitable for other contexts.
These types of videos can also make you feel bad because you have only used mundane and easy words so far.
If you want to have synonyms of a word, you can always search for them when you need them at a certain time and context.
And here again, without a broader context all the alternatives make little sense and you still don’t know how and when to use them.
Which results in?
Correct, no progress in learning italian.
3 Multiple choice quizzes
Quizzes are fun and help you understand what you know and don’t know, yet.
Okay, but in real life, when you talk or write to someone, you are not getting an array of possible answers you can choose from, are you?
Quizzes, especially multiple choice ones, evaluate your passive knowledge.
In order to speak or to write, however, you need active skills.
What if instead of taking quiz after quiz, you read or listen to something interesting in Italian?
“But Moreno, quizzes don’t hurt anyone.”
In my opinion they hurt your precious time. Do you remember? We are still hunting vampires of your time.
And I’m sorry if I bring you back with your feet on the ground now. Just because you answer the quizzes well doesn’t mean you know Italian well.
Quizzes can give you false confidence and can blow your ego out of proportion like Schwarzenegger’s bicep.
And here too, doesn’t this type of content follow more or less the same principle as the traditional courses at school?
Where is the difference? Just because online teachers are more motivated and enthusiastic, doesn’t mean it’s different.
Often the format changes, but not the substance.
4 “Revolutionary” apps
Since we’re talking about format, what about the so-called revolutionary apps that are mainly based on methods and principles that have been in use for hundreds of years?
If you intend to learn Italian seriously, and don’t want to waste too much time, leave the language learning apps alone.
The only essential apps on your mobile are dictionaries and the browser.
5 Study random grammar pills
Theory first, or practice first?
Studying grammar pills without first having encountered the structures in question in a real life situation, such as in articles, films, podcasts, etc. it’s like studying the map of Milan before visiting it.
It will remain very abstract and intangible.
If, on the other hand, while visiting the city you study the map, what you see on the map becomes much more logical and can be connected with reality, with what you are visiting.
Moral of the story?
Check grammar rules only, if you encounter a structure that is not clear to you, when you read or listen to something that interests you.
You are Sherlock Holmes and the grammar explanations are Dr. Watson, who you ask for advice, in case of need.
6 Waiting for the word of the day
What’s the point of waiting for the word of the day to appear on your screen?
A widespread phenomenon on social media.
Why wait for someone to tell you, that you have to learn that word today?
Try changing your attitude. From “teach me, feed me” to “give me the tools I can use to learn”.
Go from a passive and wait-and-see mindset, to an active and proactive mindset. You are the king of your castle.
7 Do only passive listening
„The secret to learn italian is to listen a lot while doing other things. That’s all. ”So they say.
Oh, well, thank you, then I immediately start listening to thousands of hours of Italian, while I go for a walk with my dog and while I cook. Sooner or later my brain will be programmed in Italian.
I’m sorry, but that’s not how it works. Without periods of active and focused listening, your progress will be like “waiting for Godot”.
8 Using social media the wrong way
Is it useful to use social media to learn Italian?
Of course, if you do it the smart way.
Instead of looking for and following all the profiles that “teach” you the language through the things we talked about a little while ago (word of the day, grammar pills, quizzes, lists, etc.), follow Italian profiles that talk about things you’re passionated about.
Should you stop following all Italian teachers on social media?
No, just follow those who really give you added value.
Social media was primarily created to grab your attention and keep you glued to the feed as much as possible.
Do you care about what you eat? If yes, why don’t you also care about what you “eat” mentally on your smartphone?
9 Becoming a course hoarder
Guilty as charged.
Instead of collecting dozens of courses and books that we start and probably never finish, let’s try to focus on one at a time. When we’re done, let’s move on to the next one. And so on.
As I’m interested in a thousand things, it is a difficult undertaking. But even if I fall back on it every now and then, I’m getting slowly better at it.
Do it with learning Italian, too. One thing after another. Multitasking is a lie, it doesn’t exist and it wastes your time.
Well, I’d say we’ve hunted enough time vampires. Was I a bit harsh in my opinions and finding?
Maybe, but keep in mind that I do it because I want you to truly achieve your goals with learning Italian. I also want the world of online language teaching to become more realistic with less “bling bling”.
Using all or some of those time wasters, will make you no progress when learning Italian, or at least, a whole lot slower.
Which of these vampires do you want to get rid of? Let me know in the comments.
See you soon.
Listen here to the related podcast episode in Italian: I più grandi perditempo quando impari l’italiano