For this article, I’m going to be responding directly to questions submitted to me via the SMART Language Learning Academy.
Many of my students (and plenty of people who have followed me online) have had these random, seemingly whimsical questions pop-up at one time or another and I felt like it was the right time to start giving an open and honest response to the following questions:
What is my favorite language?
Which language makes me the most uncomfortable?
If I could only speak one language, which one would it be and why?
Plus plenty of other juicy questions about my level of Italian-ness and what I would like my “last view to be” when my time on this earth ends. If it sounds a bit all over the place, that’s because I tried to answer a variety of questions without going overboard with the ridiculousness.
That’s enough chatter for me, let’s get into your questions!
Q: What is your favorite language?
I like to think of languages as family members. Each one you add to your repertoire is like meeting another member of your lovable (or not-so-lovable) family.
Whether you have a better relationship with your mom or dad is irrelevant, because at the end of the day, they’re still a part of you. Therefore, I love each of the languages I’ve learned and even if I’ve had difficulties with them, they’re still “my babies.”
Although I try to treat each one equally, I have to admit that I do have a few favorites. I can’t pick just one, so I’ll tell you my top three in no specific order.
I like to say that you don’t choose your target language, your target language chooses you.
Simply put, German, Greek and Russian fascinate me more than the other languages I’ve learned and every time I get a chance to use them, I feel like a little kid all over again.
Don’t make me choose between the three of them, please!
Q: If languages are like family to you, then which one is the creepy uncle of the bunch?
Oh boy, I don’t want to get in trouble here or catch too much flak, but I’ve never been comfortable learning Japanese. Whenever I sat down to learn it, it quickly became overwhelming, even if it was my 11th language!
My experience with the Japanese version of ASSIMIL left a lot to be desired and the experience I went through learning Japanese was so different from anything else I had done that it didn’t spark a sense of joy within me. Although I never had a “creepy uncle,” Japanese felt like the one you see in movies and TV shows, where they’ve obviously been hitting the bottle a bit too frequently and you just want as little as possible to do with that person.
Sorry Japanese, I’ll come back to you and give you another chance when you’ve cleaned up your act.
Q: What are some things you wouldn’t have been able to do in your life without learning languages?
I wouldn’t be typing this blog post or creating courses or making content on YouTube or doing any of the fun stuff that I love doing today.
Even further, I wouldn’t have the same relationships and connections with people from my past and my present. That, to me, is unimaginable.
Language learning has been like opening multiple portals and venturing into different lives and timelines that I, otherwise, would have never experienced.
And I’d like to remind anyone out there that is learning a language or two, or a few, that it’s not just about the language. It’s about creating a new world for yourself and expanding your horizons. I like to compare it to a scene from the movie The Dead Poet’s Society where the professor, Robin Williams, stands up on his desk and asks his students to do the same.
By doing so, they have a completely different perspective and vantage point on the room and everything around them. That is the power of learning a language in a nutshell, because language learning changes your perspective - forever. You’re able to see and feel things that others can’t. Not to discredit or take away anything from anyone who isn’t learning languages, but when you learn a language, you start to understand yourself and your native language even more.
Q: Which language would monolingual Luca choose to speak if Italian and English were not options?
That is incredibly difficult to say, because my mind is already running through all of the different scenarios and consequences. My immediate, gut reaction would have to be Spanish.
It’s one of the most spoken languages in the world and I have a lot of Spanish speaking friends from both Spain and South America. Also, because it’s so close to my native language, I really like speaking Spanish. My colleagues have even told me that I’m a completely different person when I get into my “Spanish mode.”
Q: What are your favorite places to visit in Italy?
Too many to choose from, so I’ll just list the ones that come to mind immediately. Apart from my native Rome, I’d have to say Florence is absolutely breathtaking. Tuscany is the first place I’d take anyone visiting Italy, because it’s absolutely gorgeous and hands down one of the nicest places in the world, not just in Italy. To add to that, I love the small town feel of San Gimignano. Siena is another gorgeous spot on my must-see list.
I know I’m listing off quite a few here, but I’d hate myself if I didn’t mention Palermo deep down in the south - in Sicily.
However, if I had to boil it down to two places, regions or cities that I absolutely love going to every single time, they’d have to be Tuscany and Palermo. They make me feel completely different from any other places I’ve been to. That’s the key for me, how does a place make me feel? If you find it difficult to answer that question, but the region speaks to you in a way that words can’t, then you know it’s special.
Q: You have one day left to live, pick any place in the world, what would you like your final view to be?
I was there in April of ‘22 and I cannot wait to go back. I loved everything about it. Just the mere idea of spending time there sends me into a different state of mind. If I knew that humanity was ending and my days were numbered, I would like to return to that magical apartment with a view of the Montaña Roja (Red Mountain). The beach is nearby, You’re fully relaxed and you’re spending those final moments in complete paradise.
Nothing comes close.
Q: What are the most stereotypical Italian things about you?
I am very Italian when it comes to pasta consumption and hand gestures. I can’t help it, because I love to move these bad boys (my hands) around to help get my point across. There are even hand gestures which will indicate to the speaker which part of Italy you’re from and I’m proud to say that it’s a part of my genetic code.
As far as the past thing goes, I grew up eating pasta twice a day. When I was a teenager and got to travel abroad a little bit, I was shocked (and slightly disappointed) to find out nobody loves pasta like the Italians. When I was dating my French girlfriend, I knew she wouldn’t be “the one,” because her family weren’t big pasta fans. What? How is that possible? How does anyone survive without pasta?
Oh and this just came to me, I don’t know about you, but Italians are very personable. No matter where they are and whether they’re on the job or not, an Italian will most likely try to become your best friend within moments.
I’m the same way. I can’t help but want to get to know you.
When I visit the local coffee shops here, it’s never strictly business. Usually, the small talk is genuine and about honest situations in one’s life. The conversations are anything but dry to say the least.
Q: Last but not least, which accents can you do and why do you like using them?
I can do a lot of regional Italian accents, but the two accents that I love using the most are Scottish (thanks to the movie Trainspotting) and a generic Southern accent for the good ol’ United States of America.
Mind you, I’m not saying I’m very good at either accent, but I can pull off a quick line or two when needed. For me, it’s part of the fun of language learning. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?
Thanks to everyone who submitted their questions.
I look forward to answering even more the next time around, so please make sure to leave any of your questions in the comments below.
Until then, happy language learning!