One year ago this week, I started learning Italian. It’s far from an immersion course—I spend a few minutes each day taking lessons from an array of cartoon characters on the Duolingo app. It’s vastly different from the way I learned French and Spanish, which was in a classroom every day with a teacher, taking tests, and getting graded.
I wanted to learn Italian after meeting my significant other’s family in Rome. Sitting at a table with his mother and sister and not understanding a single word being spoken was humbling. They couldn’t have been nicer and, thankfully, they knew a few basic phrases in English. But the experience sparked a drive to connect with two people who were now in my life, even if they were thousands of miles away most of the time.
Progress has been, well, slow—after a year, I can put together some simple sentences and point to things around the kitchen and say their names in italiano. But if I stay with it, I might learn enough to ask my significant other to parla con me.
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The longest Italian word contains 26 letters. What is it?
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