I started audio Italian lessons last weekend using a program designed for the car. The lessons are short and conveniently divided so that a 10 minute drive to Target is equivalent to one lesson. There are four CDs, each an hour long, and the first CD is called the “On Ramp to Italian.” It consists of 12 “miles,” each one made up of basic pronunciation rules, word gender rules, and introductory vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary is stuff one might see while driving–car, truck, bicycle, motorbike, forest, sign, building–as well as several adjectives one might use to describe these things. For example:
Il mio motorino e veloche.
My motorbike is fast.
La mia casa e gialla.
My house is yellow.
Ci e una donna grande.
There is a big woman.
My favorite word so far is bicycle–bicicletta. It’s pronounced “bitchy-clayta.” Fun! Ci e una bicicletta! La mia bicicletta e bella! E la bicicletta nuova o vecchia? Just say it: bicicletta, bicicletta, bicicletta. Admittedly I’ve used it incorrectly (Nice signal, you bicicletta! The speed limit is 55, not 22, Bicicletta!) but it’s just so much fun to say, and way less offensive than many of the other naughty words I repeat on a regular basis.
I have listened to the the “On Ramp” three times and feel fairly confident that if I had to describe a mode of transportation or explain that I’m going to the store (Vado al negozio!), I could easily do so. But when I confidently popped in CD 2 this morning and geared up for my first actual lesson, the merda hit the ventilatore. Gone were the slow talking teachers from the “On Ramp” CD (we’ll call them Bella* and Bruto**); replacing them were numerous native Italian speakers who talk entirely too fast, and a narrator who also talks entirely too fast. I was crushed. I have only just gotten my mouth to wrap around all the vowels in l’aeroporto, and now they are asking me to participate in conversations? Now I am blu.