language learning

Tina Learns German: My Adventures in Foreign Language #2

My family’s first Big Family Vacation since my parents came to visit me in London has officially been planned for May, 2018. We’ll be staying in Rome for one week and Vienna for one week…. Which means it is the perfect time for me to double down on my Big Scary Goal: 3 by 30.

Speak 3 foreign languages by the time I turn 30 years old.

I currently have 3 years and 3 months.

I’m still working on my Italian, and hoping that a week in Rome will really cement some things I’ve been working on.

Now, it’s time to really start learning German.

After a few false starts of studying on my own, I realized that committing to spending time with a native speaker was the only way I could really get going. So, armed with a few memories of listening to German with Jenny, a chapter of Benny Lewis’s Hacking German, and an hour of Duolingo, I jumped into German lessons on italki.

So far, I think my German has a half-American, half-Italian accent.

Italian was a fantastic choice of first foreign language for me, given my minimal background in Spanish. It gave me the tools and the growth mindset I need to jump headfirst into the (to me) much more difficult German language. So instead of becoming frustrated, I’m eager to make mistakes and stumble through attempting to make those guttural sounds.

First Impressions

After speaking with three different native German speakers on iTalki, I’ve answered more than one question with “si” instead of “ja.”

Normal-speed Native speakers are still mostly incomprehensible.

Conjugation is downright easy. (I’m not even close to worrying about cases yet.)

German sounds beautiful.

I’m excited to continue my journey!

Categories: language learning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Favorite Italian Resources

I was asked what my favorite Italian resources were, so I thought I’d make a blog post to consolidate them all. After more than a year of studying, I’ve compiled quite a list. If I discover more, I’ll update the list. I’m leaving out apps, because there are so many. SO. MANY.


  • ItalianPod101
    • One of the most extensive learning podcasts I’ve seen. Perfect for pure beginners, on up through most levels. I like to listen to these when I’m walking my dog or driving to work.
  • News in Slow Italian
    • Once you have a little bit of vocabulary and listening practice under your belt, the News in Slow Italian is perfect. It comes with transcripts! I need to listen to these when I can read the transcripts at the same time.
  • America 24
    • This is a free native Italian podcast about American politics. If you have a podcast player that allows you to slow it down, you might need to use it. On the other hand, it’s great for training your ear to listen to native speech speeds.
  • PodClub – Al Dente
    • I think this is actually one of my favorite podcasts. It is an A2/B1 level podcast, completely free, and comes with transcripts. It covers many different topics. I can usually (mostly) keep up with the audio alone, but I like to listen to the audio one time through and then listen again with the transcript.
  • Spotify
    • Listening to Italian music is great. Singing along can help pronunciation. Here’s my Italian Spotify playlist.


  • Peppa Pig on Youtube
    • A simple search can find Peppa Pig dubbed in Italian, with or without transcripts. I like it because the language and storylines are both simple.
  • Italiano in Famiglia
    • This is a TV series developed specifically for foreign language learners! The website is completely in Italian, and there are transcripts. You learn Italian while learning about an Italian family.
  • Weilà Tom
    • Tom teaches English to Italians, and Italian to English speakers on his youtube channel. The explanations are simple, and he even has a playlist of his lessons in order!
  • Learn Italian with Lucrezia
    • Lucrezia is wonderful – she is an Italian teaching her native language via videos… I also enjoy following her on Instagram. That way I get little doses of Italian throughout the day. 🙂



  • Add1Challenge
    • The Add1Challenge is hands-down the best community for getting you from 0 to conversational in a short period of time. I’ve done 2 Italian challenges. I’m planning on doing a challenge or two for German, too.
  • italki
    • italki is what the Add1Challenge community mostly uses. I found this before the A1C, but it is what I depend on. I wouldn’t be conversational without my tutors. If you only pick one paid resource out of this list, italki should be it.
  • Language Learning Library
    • My friend and Italian study buddy Gary started this website! It’s free and has almost any resource you could ever want listed there. That’s where I found a few of the resources in this list… and there are more that I definitely don’t have time to use but I’m sure are great. (But if you use something that isn’t on the website, be sure to add it!)
  • The Iceberg Project Blog
    • Cher Hale is a fellow language learner, even if she is much farther along in her Italian journey than I am! She has amazing blogs, a helpful newsletter I’m subscribed to, and some paid challenges. (Hello, Italian prepositions bootcamp.)
  • Online Italian Club
    • Online Italian Club basically has all the free things. All of them. Listening exercises, dialogues, grammar explanations, informal level tests… All of the free things!


  • Short Stories in Italian by Olly Richards
    • I love to read. I became an English grammar nerd because I went through 100’s of books in English… per year! My bookshelves are overflowing. So naturally, I want to read in Italian too. And that will help me absorb more vocab and grammar… Olly Richards’ books are the PERFECT start for that. I’m sure Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale will be easier to read after I’ve gone through all 3 of Olly’s Italian books.
  • Italian – A Self-Teaching Guide
    • One of my italki tutors recommended me this textbook, if you like the textbook approach. It isn’t overly expensive, and it is fairly thorough… But not too dense. I like this textbook as much as one could ever like a textbook.
Categories: language learning | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

7 Steps for Your Language Learning Foundation

As I mentioned in my #Add1Challenge Recap, I had quite a few resources I used to learn. I also had a schedule that I (mostly) stuck to. I’m now halfway through 2016 and I’m ignoring my self-imposed deadline of being conversationally fluent in a year with determination, just attempting to keep up my study schedule and methods without overwhelming myself.

Not overwhelming yourself is key. 

So, in an attempt to keep everything for myself organized, and to help others who may be learning a language, I’m laying out the steps to start – and continue – learning.

Continue reading

Categories: language learning | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at