Learn A Language At Home (For Free!)

I have had this potential post on my list since I started this blog. I was going to tell all of my readers (all 2 of you! ;)) about this awesome site called Duolingo. And then yesterday, I spotted a hashtag on Twitter and followed it around. I ended up at a blog called Almost Fearless.


And then I realized I wished I would have found this hashtag long ago! From Memorial Day to Labor Day, people all over are learning a language on this website. That’s what I was doing, but I’d have a heck of a lot more motivation if I knew other people were doing it too!

Piazza del Popolo

Friends don’t let friends learn Italian alone! At Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

Through college, I always had this burning desire to learn Italian. And when my number was up for studying abroad, I ultimately chose to go to Rome because of that desire, even though my program at the time was “supposed to” go to London. Now that I’m back in the U.S. (and two years away from studying abroad…), I don’t want to let those Italian skills that I learned go to waste. While it may not be the most “useful” language to learn, it most certainly is the most fun for me!

Italian Studying

Breakfast in Italy. Greek yogurt with a piece of Nutella-slathered bread. All while studying Italian!

How do I plan to learn Italian in Philadelphia, you ask? Well you know I’m going to tell you. And you can bet they will be super cheap or free. The broke college student over here understands.

Learn A Language

  1. Duolingo. Since this post was supposed to be about Duolingo in the first place, it only makes sense that it’s first on my list! It’s kinda/sorta like Rosetta Stone, only more fun. And you can compete against friends. And make an owl cry when you didn’t retain enough Italian information. It has an app for your phone or tablet too, so you can learn on the go. You can also learn Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese on here! Is it crazy to want to know them all?
  2. Facebook. Yeah, not many of my friends on there speak Italian. If at all. But you can change the language on it! And while some things get mighty confusing, I generally figure them out! Finally, using the language tool for good and not for Pirate or Upside Down.
  3. News Articles. The age of technology these days, am I right? Wikipedia to the rescue, and I’m sure this would work for any language. A lot of other sites I’ve found are translated into English, but I’m going to find a good one in Italian. I’m determined!
  4. A Pen Pal. I’ve always dreamed of having a pen pal. And while this hasn’t been put into action yet, I think it would be so awesome to find an Italian pen pal/travel blogger/anyone to practice with! If I could find a live person in Philadelphia, that would be ideal. But alas.
  5. Life is Beautiful. Movies in general, I suppose. But La Vita รจ Bella is my absolute favorite movie. Sure, it’s got English subtitles. But my ultimate dream is to be able to watch it without needing them. I am on the hunt for other Italian movies, but I don’t think they will ever compare!
  6. Take a Class. I know there have to be Italian classes in Philadelphia. I live right down the street from the community college, so it wouldn’t be an impossible task. However, I’m also paying regular college tuition currently…so this one won’t fly for me! But I shall live vicariously through others!
  7. Read a Book. Christine made this suggestion on her Bilingual Summer update post. Reading a book in another language is going to be a task, but I assume it would help so much! Perhaps a fun one like Harry Potter would be really exciting. I just have to find a way to do it cheaply. My library has it in a bunch of languages…just not Italian!
  8. Podcasts. A quick search on iTunes confirmed that there are a BUNCH of “Learn (insert language here)” podcasts. While I’m running, I don’t really listen to anything. But longer marathon training runs mean I may need distraction. Language distraction!
  9. Music. For all of you auditory learners out there, check out the music! I’m a life-long dancer, so this is an excellent and enjoyable way for me to be exposed to the language. You may not pick up on vocab words unless you know the song in your native tongue, but this definitely helps with the general sounds, pronunciation, and stresses of another language! Plus it can be really fun.
  10. Plan a Trip. When all else fails and I’m having a tough time sticking to my learning, I turn to travel blogs and plan a trip to Italy (feel free to insert your own country here!) where I can use the language I will learn. Having an end goal in sight is always helpful (so says my boyfriend/parents/counselors/etc…), and planning a trip seems like a perfect activity!

The best way of learning a language is always going to be sending you off to a country that only speaks that language. If you want to eat, you learn a language faster than you could ever imagine. The main thing here is that you have to want it. If you just think it’s cool because everybody else is doing it…chances are you aren’t going to succeed. Do it for yourself!

Italian Market

I started learning it so I could survive in Italian marketplaces and be happily fed!

Are you learning a language? Have you successfully learned a language? I always excelled in language classes throughout school, but once I get out there, my brain panics and forgets everything! I’m hoping to avoid that from now on…

Share any ideas you have in the comments!


The Challenge of Photography

All while I was debating whether or not to start another blog, one of the biggest things I was worried about was my photography. Let me tell you, I cannot make a picture look good if I tried. If you’ve read this blog for more than 3 seconds, you know that travel is HUGE on my radar, and I wanted this blog to really reflect that. And for now I would focus on honing my skills in Philadelphia.

Step One: Start taking my camera with me everywhere and just. Take. Pictures!

Philadelphia Alley

Alleyway I thought was pretty. Not as awesome in my picture. But still.

Red Building

I appreciated the color of this building.

Hanging Plants

I thought all of these hanging plants were so cool!

I Wish

This was my absolute favorite. I wish!

Well. I’m all amped up with no clue as to where to go from here. My parents have mentioned a camera being an excellent Christmas present, but I don’t want to get one on the fancier side if I don’t use my camera as it is. That is not something to waste.

That’s where you all imaginary readers come in! Do you have any suggestions as to how I can get better at this photography stuff? I’d love to do the places I visit some sort of justice. Food, sights, people, everything. Any guides or anything like that you would suggest?


Help me out! Pretty please!

How are your photography skills?