Being expat

Non è mai troppo tardi…

The other day I was reminded by a friend that “non è mai troppo tardi” to learn another language.

It is never too late.

It made me think about how my late mother fostered her Italian skills when she moved to Italy. She moved to Italy in 1960 when the show “Non è mai troppo tardi” started to air.

It was actually for analphabets/illiterates or “returning-analphabets/illiterates” ( there is a linguistic term for it (I only know it in Italian: “analfabetismo di ritorno”).

Those days many had only the “quinta elementare” (it was obligatory to attend school only until the 5th class / primary school) before starting to work and some really forgot or never really learned how to read and write.

My mother learned Italian in the most natural way: she mirrored the speech of others around her, which surely wasn’t easy as she was the “foreigner” (and one of the few at that time in that region), but she was very curious and learned quickly.

She told me about the show when I asked her later how she managed to learn Italian – I knew there weren’t any classes or and help for accompanying partners like her (neither for my father actually, who worked for EURATOM).

She told me about the show and how the teacher would walk everyone through how to decode the language / read. She read the daily and weekly newspapers and was always up to date on everything “one needs to know” (and she was a very curious person ).

Before moving to Italy in 1960 she had lived in Belgium (Bruxelles) for 2 years, where she also learned a bit French “très vite” (she liked to say that…) but only on a very superficial level.

So, long story short:

“It is NEVER too late” to learn a language!

I hope you get inspired by this and start learning a new language!

Which one will you learn next? Let me know in the comments!

Categories: Being expat

3 replies »

  1. Thanks for your informative posts. Having lived in Germany and Sweden, I’m reasonably fluent in both those languages. During covid isolation, I started learning Spanish at age 75. It’s never too late to learn!

      • Thanks Ute for your website, recognizing expats as a distinct cultural group. It makes me feel in touch with people around the world. Though I’m not an expat now, I was for three and a half years in my twenties, when I stayed out of the US to avoid the Vietnam War. I consider myself more a “citizen of the world” rather than just an American.

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