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There's more to learning a new language than just translating words.

Beppe Salerno
Posted by Beppe Salerno on Oct 13, 2015 8:12:35 PM

I’ve been enjoying reading Rick Zullo’s blog and tweets. Rick is an American expat living in Rome.

He makes his living by teaching English to Italians. It's a great job, he says, full of amusing anecdotes. For example, one day a student of Rick was enthusiastically telling him about his plans for an upcoming vacation in New York, describing all the wonderful things that he wanted to see and do.  At the end of this somewhat lengthy description, he exclaimed joyously, "I don't see the hour!"

Huh? What is that? Let me explain. Sometimes we (Italians) have the tendency to translate into English rather than think in English. You know…we get lazy. The student translated an Italian idiomatic expression (too) directly.  In Italian, instead of saying "I can't wait," you say, "Non vedo l'ora" or "I don't see the hour."  "Non posso aspettare," means that you literally "can't wait," in other words, you have to leave immediately and cannot possibly wait another second. Not exactly the same thing, is it?

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If you speak a second language you might have made the same mistakes yourself. No reason to be ashamed; it’s one of the most fun parts of learning a language. It’s great to laugh about it at a dinner table!

Rick also makes the point that language goes beyond the mere definition of the words: cultural context must always be considered. 

There's more to learning a new language than just translating words.

If you want to read more on this topic, Rick has written several other blog posts. Start with this one, which gets the most hits: The Best Way to Learn Italian

So, I hope you "don't see the hour" until the next blog!

Got your own language learning story to tell?  Share it with us, below.

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