By: Karen Sullivan
A new language learning system promotes learning like a baby would, by graphically organising thoughts. One woman and her son Luke try it to learn Italian
“This time you’ll remember” reads the strap-line on the booklet accompanying my Italian language book and CDs set, and I’m intrigued. Some people have an affinity for languages, and find learning them uncomplicated. I don’t fall into that category. I speak French somewhere below adequately, but only because I grew up in Canada, where bilingual packaging and media produce a sort of osmosis effect, and because prerequisites demanded that I study French literature to acquire my degree. It was painful. So when my publisher, Collins, asked me to give its new language learning system – using “mind maps” to promote memory (see more about mind maps below) – a trial run, I was of two minds. I’m a busy writer with three children and the prospect of learning a language in a short space of time was not just daunting but verging on the impossible. Equally, however, I have had my pride stung on several occasions when visiting Italy, and I am determined to return there and hold my own; well, at least manage to buy a travel pass without attracting stares of silent contempt. Secretly imagining the amazed expressions on the faces of my not-so linguistically challenged partner and teenagers, I agreed to try to learn Italian in only eight weeks.