I feel like so many people in Italy are seriously lacking useful help.
In addition to a lack of useful help, they are also lacking encouragement.
Daily news stories tend to focus on the latest tragedies, celebrity gossip, Silvio Berlusconi, murders, soccer and food lessons. Did I leave anything out? I could probably mention soccer and tragedies in there again since they are the most popular headlines.
Where is the encouragement, the rags to riches tales, suggestions on how to have a happy and healthy financial life or just some cute stories about a a puppy who makes friends with a goat?
I know that Italian media does talk about all of these things at some point or another, but they are too few and far between. I feel like news teams here stick to reporting the facts and don’t share enough things, encourage or motivate their audience.
Help Others With Your Native Language
Rather than focusing so much on the negative, useless crap in this country, I thought it would be fun to focus on something more positive and useful. I have found that the best way for me to discuss both is by sharing a few of my “language sharing” tips with you.
These suggestions have not only allowed me to help others, but they have also helped me a great deal, too.
As a foreigner who longs to feel accepted and respected in this foreign country, I feel that my language sharing experiences have allowed me to feel exactly that: accepted and respected!
So, let’s have a look at the suggestions:
This is probably one of the most valuable ways that you can help people in Italy.
Sometimes I’ll offer a resume translation as an exchange of services rather than having them pay me.
Life is not always about getting paid in cold, hard cash. What you don’t earn in Euro you will gain in experience, and sometimes it helps take the pressure off both parties when money is not involved. A few good bottles of wine or a nice dinner out on the town in exchange for a resume translation is a great alternative. It allows you to spend quality time with people rather than a few emails and 5-minute conversations.
In fact, I can give you a prime example of how well this works, and you can even see the proof right here on my blog!
Do you like my logo?
I sure hope so! It was created by a young graphic design student that I know.
I had an idea for the logo but no way to bring it to life. He had the tools and needed the experience for his portfolio. Put the two together and you get the Full of Italy blog logo.
It was a win-win for both.
I offered to pay him numerous times but he didn’t want the money, so I told him I would translate his resume and help him draft a cover letter instead. He was quick to accept.
Jump to the present and he’s probably going to be using that resume to land himself an internship in the UK this summer.
This is one of my favorites: simulate an interview for them.
Make a list of the types of questions that they might be asked during a foreign interview and start asking away.
This actually made a great English lesson one day. We started out with interview questions (in English) of every kind. I asked the student in English and she responded in English. Then I sent her the questions via email so that she could also write the responses in English. I edited them and sent them back to her: a useful resource that she could refer to any time in the future. I also helped her with her resume.
Eventually, she also used some of the interview techniques I taught her in English in her Italian interviews, which she later told me were a huge hit! The Italians interviewing her appreciated the questions that she asked and the way that she had responded.
This made me feel like I had finally, finally been able to help someone with my native language.
A good old-fashioned language exchange is a wonderful way to make friends and learn a new language, but I propose that you go about my way becuase I have had a lot of success with it and think that you will, too!
Typically, a language lesson takes place in someone’s home or a coffee shop.
BORING. NOISY. NO!
I found that when people hired me to teach them English, the pressure of doing a good job was too much for me. I felt like crap after every lesson, because they asked me complicated grammar questions that I had no idea how to answer.
You unprofessional idiot! These people are paying you!
I am no grammar expert, this is true, but I am a native speaker and there are many other ways that I can help non-native speakers.
So I proposed the “English Walk” language exchange.
I have a loop that I usually walk with Cookie (my dog) that lasts about an hour. It’s a relaxing walk through the countryside, so I thought to myself, “Why not propose to those who are interested in learning English to go walking as we exchange languages?“
30 minutes of English and 30 minutes of Italian. That will take us around the loop.
Getting some exercise while improving our language abilities? Yes, please! Especially since I sit in my office all day and like to get up and move around once in a while.
It’s a more relaxed way to approach English speaking and you can also comment on the everyday situations that pass you buy.
Because you just never know when someone you’re teaching might need to say, “Geeze, did you see how fast that jerk was going? I hope he gets pulled over by the cops!”
In that phrase, you teach the non-native speaker a bit of slang, a phrasal verb and they have a real-life situation that they can connect the phrase to in order to recall it more easily in the future.
ENCOURAGE OTHERS BY SHARING YOUR STORIES OF SUCCESS AND FAILURE
Expat life is full of successes and failures, so tell people about them! Mix it up by telling part of the story in your native language and part of it in the foreign language.
You’ve traveled the globe, worked odd jobs, tried jobs and realized they don’t work out, traveled some more, moved home, worked a high paying job that you hated and quit, moved back overseas where you found your dream job and lived happily ever after. Sound familiar?
Since many Italians grow up in their home community and never move more than 20 mintues from mamma, I love to share my wild adventures with people in the hopes that it will motivate them to get out there and see the world.
Your stories give life to the word “possibility” and inspire them to pursue dreams of their own.
I’m always telling the 20-somethings here in Italy to ditch home for a while and to go see the world.
Be independent, ragazzi!
…and always be positive.