For our Italian at Heart series, we've taken 3 of our devoted LLH students and highlighted their journey on how and why they started learning a language with us all the way to their trip to Italy together!
Here were the initial questions that prompted this post:
1. What sparked your desire to learn Italian?
2. Why did you choose Learn Language Hoboken?
3. How was your experience learning Italian at LLH?
4. Tell us about our trip to Italy.
5. How did learning Italian enhance your experience in Italy?
Three years ago, I was bored with my routine and wanted to learn something different, but useful. I thought studying a language would be a really fun and challenging activity, and also a way to meet new people. When I was in college, I took Italian classes in preparation for a summer study abroad program in Urbino, Italy. While I was in Italy, the art history classes I took were taught in English, but I loved being able to use what I had learned in Italian class to speak to the locals in town. I decided to take Italian classes again at LLH because I am part Italian (on my mom’s side) and because I had desire to return to Italy someday.
I found Learn Language Hoboken through a simple Google search. I was only expecting to find language schools in Manhattan, but was pleasantly surprised to see that LLH was conveniently located near my home in Hoboken.
I met Angie on my very first day of Beginner Level 1 and we made it all the way through Advanced Level 4 together. Along the way, we met Nikki and made other friends! Alberto (our teacher) made class fun and really made sure we understood all of the lessons. Honestly, Alberto and the people in class made me look forward to coming every week.
Angie, Nikki, and I decided we wanted to take a trip to Italy together after our last class ended. It had been 13 years since I had been to Italy and I was really looking forward to going back and putting my Italian language skills to use. We explored Rome, Positano, Capri, and Naples. We ate the most delicious food, enjoyed lots of vino, and had lots of laughs! Since I studied art history in college, one of the works on my must-see bucket list was Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. While visiting Milan on this trip, I was finally able to see it person and it was incredible.
We greeted everyone in Italian each day and insisted they speak to us in Italian, even when they knew we were American. By the end of a few days in Positano, we had met a lot of residents and greeted them warmly. Together, we had quite an extensive knowledge of the language which was helpful when one of us forgot a word. Traveling to Italy with new friends and speaking the language only deepened my desire to continue learning and practicing the language.
I grew up in a small town here in NJ where 95% of the population were Italian-Americans, the type who bore the tri-colored flag emblem on the back of their cars and argued over whether it's sauce or gravy. I, too, have always been proud to be an Italian-American, yet inside I knew how being able to speak the language would really legitimize my claim. This lifelong sentiment, along with a period in my life where I really needed the distraction, led me to embark on this endeavor.
I was pleasantly surprised when my Google search for a language school dropped a pin in the basement of the Citadel building on 7th Street. Hoboken is an ideal little city with authentic Italian roots making learning the language here a fitting scenario.
I have spent more or less every single Tuesday the past (almost 4) years with Alberto and class learning and practicing Italian. I can't imagine what life would be like without this class; it's grown into such a constant in my life. We have all become such close friends and frequently enjoy doing "Italian" activities together.
The two-weeks in Italy was such an adventure. We saw so much, ate so well, and enjoyed the golden sun each and everyday. The country is as beautiful as it's language.
Being able to converse with the Italians, even if not at an advanced level (which I strive for), really gave us an "in" with the locals. We transcended from being mere tourists, and meeting and talking with the Italians became such an enjoyable part of the trip.
My family is Italian and my mother speaks fluently, but because my father (who was also Italian-American) didn’t speak the language, we spoke English at home. Growing up around Italians speaking at all of our get-togethers and from hearing my mother speak I understood the language, but never knew how to “technically” speak. I have always been proud of my Italian heritage and I love all things Italian, so my desire to speak the language came naturally.
I had just moved to Hoboken in the summer of 2015 and knew very few people so I wanted a way to meet people while doing something that was fun and interesting to me. I googled Italian classes in New York City, not knowing that there would be one so close to home! I found LLH through a google search and saw on the website that an Italian class was beginning shortly. It was Intermediate Italian 1, but because I had studied Italian in college I figured that it shouldn’t be a problem. Once I had gotten in contact with the school, I set up a telephone conversation with Alberto so he could assess where I was in terms of skills and gave me the go-ahead to sign up for the class (Grazie, Alberto)!
I cannot say enough good things about my experience of learning Italian at LLH. Alberto is truly one of a kind. He is an amazing teacher and so much more than that. He’s just an all-around great person! Alberto sincerely cares about his students and has made my Tuesday nights more enjoyable. I have made amazing friends from learning Italian at LLH and have gained experiences that I never would have, had I not taken classes here.
The trip to Italy was such a memorable one! We had so much fun and packed so much into our time there. We really wanted and tried to experience Italy like real Italians by staying in Airbnb’s, speaking the language, trying to connect with the locals, and by immersing ourselves in the culture (no cappuccinos after breakfast, but gelato any time of the day!!). We did a lot of eating, sightseeing, hiking, shopping, spent time at the beach and on the water, and made sure to check all of our must-do items off the list. We met up with another friend, Mark, who we also met through LLH. (Mark was living in Italy at the time for a few months.) We even met Adam Sandler in Positano. He complimented our Italian and said he could use our help—all thanks to LLH!
Learning Italian helped us communicate with the locals. The Italians were so impressed with our ability to speak. They were also very patient with us and helped us if we couldn’t find the right words to say or the right way to phrase a sentence. They could see that we were really trying our best and it was much appreciated. I believe that knowing Italian gave us a more genuine and authentic experience.
In French, the term amour fou means “insane love,” and that’s certainly how the French feel about their famous cuisine! France is home to a renowned culinary scene and there are many dishes that are quintessentially French. As you learn to speak French, some words you’re sure to encounter are:
The French truly believe that meals and enjoying delicious foods are an immense pleasure in life. French food is influenced by region and includes some delicious staples like bread, cheese, and wine.
In France, you see various shops for each specific item, unlike in the U.S, where we get all our goods at a “supermarket.” The French typically purchase fresh food daily at “la Boulangerie” (bakery), “la Boucherie” (butcher shop), and “la Fromagerie” (cheese shop). Many French foods are known for their rich flavors, but most French people eat bread, wine and cheese daily – the simple things in life are sometimes the most delicious!
Let’s discover how each dietary staple is incorporated into the French way of life:
Fresh bread, made with only three ingredients – flour, yeast, and salt - is typically eaten for breakfast also known as a “tartine” which is a slice of bread with butter and/or jam and a cup of café (coffee), which is served strong, or a café au lait (coffee served with hot milk).
Cheese is a principal in the French diet, especially since there are over 400 distinct kinds of cheeses made in France, from cow, goat and ewe milk. Some names you might recognize are Blue, Roquefort, Boursin and Brie. Fun fact, the average person living in France consumes 45 pounds of cheese per year!
Everyone knows that France is famous for their wine, which is typically served with dinner. Some of the wonderful types of wines made in France include Chardonnay and Merlot, plus Champagne, the traditional drink enjoyed during celebrations.
At Learn Language Hoboken, we believe that part of learning a new language is understanding the nuances of what makes a specific culture unique, and most often, that includes the cuisine. That’s why we enjoy hosting cultural trips and events to give our students a “taste” of the cultural experience using all the senses.
The best way to learn French might be to converse with your peers over a meal of bread, wine, and cheese! Join us as Learn Language Hoboken hosts our next cultural trip to LE DISTRICT (World Trade Center) in NYC on June 10th, 2017. Click here to register today and join us for a fun, mini-lesson while enjoying some wonderful French foods!
At Learn Language Hoboken we love when students begin learning a new language. We’ve been helping students learn the beautiful Italian language for the past five years at our location in Hoboken – along with several other languages. Not only do we teach language, but we also offer immersion into the diverse cultures of each country where the primary languages are spoken. To learn a language it takes more than just speaking words. When learning Italian, for instance, the culture of Italy certainly impacts the language spoken. And when speaking Italian, you can’t truly immerse yourself until you understand the importance that food has on the Italian culture.
Food, for Italians, is a way to celebrate the every day with family and friends. In the U.S., we tend to think of meals as more of a necessity, rather than a relaxing time to unwind – eating in our cars on the way from one appointment to the next or grabbing a protein bar at our desk while we finish a project that’s on a deadline. In other countries, especially Italy, meals are taken more seriously. It’s not just about enjoying the delicious food and drink, but about taking a break and connecting with people; it’s truly more of a social event.
At Learn Language Hoboken, we believe in understanding the nuances of what makes a culture unique, and most often, that includes the cuisine. That’s why we enjoy hosting cultural trips and events to give our students a “taste” of the cultural experience using all the senses.
Join us as Learn Language Hoboken hosts our next cultural trip to EATALY (World Trade Center) in NYC on Saturday, April 29th. Click here to register today and join us for a fun, mini-lesson while enjoying some delicious Italian delicacies!
Post written by: Keara M. Piekanski