Tips & Recipes
Letizia's top language learning tips
Our native Italian speaker shares the strategies that have helped her to improve her English this season
Letizia Borghesi hails from the small town of Cles in Italy’s mountainous north. She grew up riding bikes and hiking amid the stunning backdrop of Val di Non. She did not, however, grow up speaking English so Letizia knew that joining EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, where English is the common language, meant she would have to work on her language skills.
“I was really nervous because I studied English at school but never practiced it. It was a completely new experience for me. It was all new, learning a new language and I felt a little bit nervous when I arrived at training camp,” Letizia says.
Over the course of the year, Letizia’s English has improved by leaps and bounds. Now that it’s the off season, she has had a little time to think about what helped her improve her English this year. Read on for Letizia’s top language learning tips.
Build your community
With the team at the beginning of the year, it was really good because I didn’t speak English so well but I felt also part of the group.
I feel a bit different with those who speak English as a first language than with those who learn it. Magdeleine could understand me pretty well from the beginning because her first language is French. Even if I didn’t know the words, she always understood if I made a guess. This helped a lot. We’ve had some really funny moments together and so many jokes.
Ask people to repeat
At the beginning of the season, I was trying to understand as many words as possible and then trying to figure out what they were saying. At the beginning for me it was really difficult with some American teammates. Really difficult! I remember with Krista I was out for training and she was telling me something and after five minutes of her talking I was like, ‘Sorry, I didn’t understand anything, can you repeat it all?’ She had to repeat it many times.
I wanted to try to speak. I made mistakes and I knew it. At one point I was thinking, ‘Ok if I don’t try, I’ll never speak’ so it’s better to make some mistakes.
Immerse yourself as much as possible
Living with my teammates at the races is so helpful. When we are away for 15 days together, you listen to English every moment of the day. If you can take a trip somewhere to learn a language, it’s a good idea.
Take a class
I think that the EF courses are so cool! Lately I haven't done too many lessons because I’m trying to study for my university exams before starting with training camps and races but I’ve done some lessons and I think that it’s really useful and there are a lot of listening tests. This is good because it’s the field where I have to improve more!
Get out of your comfort zone
I was on a podcast in English. I felt like it was ok but at the same time I felt like I talked only about basic things. I wanted to say more but at the same time I couldn’t express myself. It was a little bit frustrating but also a good experience to try something different so the next time I will be more ready.
Find small moments to practice
I don’t like watching movies but when there are videos in English on Instagram, I try to listen to them so I don’t lose my English after the effort I’ve put in. Sometimes I read interesting articles in English. I don’t study English every day so it helps to take advantage of small moments.
Want to find out how you can learn English with EF? Head to EF.com to find out more.