I recently completed my second month of Italian language studies. Although I’m making progress I must confess that at times it seems overwhelming; especially as I consider all that there is to learn and the added pressure I feel to learn it quickly in order to effectively reach Italians souls for Christ.
To give you an example of what I’ve learned thus far and hopefully put in perspective the grammar involved in learning a language effectively, consider the verb “to be.” In Italian the infinitive is “essere”. Essere is an irregular verb and is conjugated in the present tense below…
(io) sono (noi) siamo
(tu) sei (voi) siete
(lui, lei, Lei) è (loro) sono
The conditional tense of “to be” is “would be” and changes the conjugation to…
(io) sarei (noi) saremmo
(tu) saresti (voi) sareste
(lui, lei, Lei) sarebbe (loro) sarebbero
The future tense of “to be” is “will be” and change the conjugation to…
(io) sarò (noi) saremo
(lui, lei, Lei) sarà (loro) saranno
The imperfect past tense expresses past events that are habitual or describes an action that happened in the past and is continuing while another takes place. We would say in english “was” or “used to be”. This form is conjugated as…
(io) ero (noi) eravamo
(tu) eri (voi) eravate
(lui, lei, Lei) era (loro) erano
I’ll not continue to bore you with the other conjugations like the present perfect tense which describes actions in the recent past, etc. Now imagine your teacher explaining all of this and more to you in Italian. Of course we don’t want to get bogged down in grammar rules so we must practice while conversing in Italian. Direct and indirect pronouns make sense to me but putting them into a sentences while speaking is “something else”. Then there are the prepositions, which in many cases have no logical reason for their use. This does not even touch on the plethora of vocabulary words to learn including hundreds of other verbs with their conjugations, as well as the common Italian idioms.
In spite of all of this, learning Italian has never seemed like a chore. I love it! But standing where I’m at in the process it’s hard to conceive of the day when the words just flow out of my mouth effortlessly. I expressed this one day to my teacher and with two words she helped calm my nerves… “piano, piano.”
“Piano, piano” means slowly. In essence she said that little by little I’ll make progress. Each day I’ll learn a little more. Slowly the mistakes will be corrected and the words will come more freely. Then one day I will find myself casually speaking Italian among Italians.
“Piano, piano” applies to more of life than language acquisition. My dream for Italy is to see Italian souls living in the power of Christ’s resurrection and being faithful in imparting the life-changing gospel of Christ to others. Little by little, reaching one soul at a time, life investing in life, I hope to find myself one day in an Italian church that the Lord allows me to establish, full of people saturated with the gospel, that are in love with Christ, seeking His glory, and pursuing godliness with all their heart. I know this will not occur over night; nothing of lasting value ever does. Piano, piano.