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A few minutes and a world opens to you.

They say (whoever "they" is) that learning a new language is easiest if you are under age 5. That may be, but that factoid was developed before the plethora of online learning options appeared. Download a free app to your phone or create an account online, and instead of playing Candy Crush or perusing social media while you are waiting in the pick up line for kids, you can learn to speak a new language. I live in the U.S. and have noticed when I travel that others from English-speaking countries expect natives of the country they visit to speak English. While they may speak English, nothing opens doors and bonds people like trying to speak their language (even if it's laughter as a response to your horrible accent--ask me how I know). I've challenged myself in the past by teaching French in our former homeschool co-op. It forced me to go back to long-ago high school and college French and re-learn along with my fledgling French-speakers. We used Duolingo.

I'll keep it real here. You'll notice by this screenshot that the little green logo guy on the right is snoozing. It's obviously been a while since I've logged in. Life intervenes (family, health, business). But today is a new day. The past doesn't matter.

This new day, I promise to start learning Italian. I find that romance languages are great for travel to Europe, as many of the word roots are the same. I've fudged my way through Florence and Venice using some French and adopting some Italian, so let's make it official.

  • My ultimate goal is to rent a house in Tuscany for about 3 months or more, starting sometime in the next three years.

One Duolingo tip-- it took me a while to notice that you can choose settings that include speaking and listening options. I must have never had the speaking options turned on when I used my PC. I downloaded the app to my phone, logged into my account, and was surprised to see that the quizzes now allowed me to speak a phrase or word as part of the assessment. Now I keep that option turned on when I'm on my laptop. Fantastico! (Or is that fantastica?).


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