November 19, 2009 | Italian

Pimsleur Done! Now What?

No Pimsleur lessons remain, so I need another way to improve my oral communication skills.

I have finished all 90 Pimsleur Italian lessons. It took me 19 days.

Now what am I supposed to do?

I am trying to concentrate today on additional Italian studies (books, vocabulary, etc.), but now that I have no more oral lessons left, I am first obsessed with getting a gig—no pay necessary—where I can speak Italian. So today, besides doing a bunch of grammar, I spent a lot of time working on that.

I sent an e-mail, in Italian, to my brother-in-law in Genoa, who used to live in New York. I also called the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce. The guy who answered the phone there was friendly, but said he didn’t think they could use me, as the office is staffed by people who have all been there a long time. I suggested maybe a member organization would be able to find a use for me. He said kindly, “In fact.” I sent him an e-mail.

One option is to do a kind of conversation exchange, where you give someone English coaching in exchange for Italian coaching. I don’t really want to do that, though, because it isn’t as efficient as being around Italian 100 percent of the time. And I would be spending half of the time on something that is specifically not Italian. However, there are many people who want to do this kind of thing, and it is free, both of which recommend it as an approach. So I just sent a few messages, in Italian, to some Italian people who have posted on

In search of other ideas for work, I called our friend Julian Gargiulo. He is an Italian-American pianist who lives in our building—a spontaneous and creative guy who merges classical piano-playing and often-irreverent humor in his performances. He was busy practicing when I phoned, but said he’d think about Italian options and let me know what he came up with.

One thing did finally work out today: I heard from an Italian man who had posted on Craigslist for an English-for-Italian conversation exchange. I had initially hesitated about writing to him because his online posting, after some reasonably comprehensible though not wholly grammatical text, concluded inexplicably with the words “If you are interested in being felt.” I burst out laughing when I read that. I have taught English to many non-native speakers, so I decided this was an example of a bad translation, not perversion.

Although his original ad was in English, our e-mail exchange today was conducted entirely in Italian, I noticed. Good for me! He seems nice. Craigslist makes me nervous, however, so I am going to meet him in a very public place.

I feel pretty proud of myself for all the messages I sent in Italian today. Four weeks from now, when my grammar is better, I wonder whether I will still be proud. I found a mistake in the one I sent my brother-in-law shortly after it went out (for “we are” I wrote sonno instead of sono). Oh, well.

Comments (2)

Alex • Posted on Tue, April 23, 2013 - 1:46 am EST

My solution for post-Pimsleur hangovers is movies. The obvious part of that is cinema in your chosen language, but I’ve been wanting to try taking some of my favorite movies and clicking-on the French (in my case) soundtrack.

Granted, I haven’t seen too many films available in Italian dubs, but there’s probably a few. My strategy would be to get some movies with French dubbing options and English subtitles (it’s all or nothing - must have both), movies that I already know and love, and watch one every night - the same way I do my Pimsleur lessons.

Then I’d get some _actual_ French movies and watch those one at a time as well, starting with some really easy stuff (movies recommended for beginners) and moving up to harder stuff.

Naturally, this requires something of a budget. I say just do the best you can. And yes, dub jobs are often horribly bad, mais c’est la vie. Hopefully I could eventually get to the point where I wouldn’t need subtitles at all.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Tue, April 23, 2013 - 12:04 pm EST

Thank you for this post, Alex! I have trouble sitting still for most movies, but if I could resolve that problem, I think film would be very useful. I like radio, too:

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