I have always loved other languages.
When I was at Secondary School I studied Latin for two years and I especially loved finding out about Pompeii the city that was buried under ash. I have been to Pompeii now and it is an astonishing place to visit. I also studied French, but also only for two years.
When I left school I went to night school to study te reo Māori for awhile. I loved the sound of it, and it really connected with growing up in Northland (as I did).
Much much later (I went and lived in London for a long time) I went to The University of Auckland and I studied French (again for two years), and I spent so MANY years studying Italian I am scared to write down how long (twelve years?). I did a Doctorate in Italian and that took me ages! I loved learning a language so that I could talk to people and read books in that language. Like Māori it is a language that sounds good. It is like poetry, I reckon.
Now when I visit other countries that don’t speak English I always take a phrase book so I can say things in the other language. It is fun and it helps you meet the locals.
A funny story: You always make mistakes. When I was first learning Italian I had to sit an oral exam and I was asked to tell a story about when I was little. I decided to tell everyone that I was the champion sack racer in my school from Year 3. Nobody could beat me however old they were because I had a cunning technique. I would put my toes in the corners of the sack so I never fell over (everyone else did) and I ran like a rocket! But instead of saying champion (campione) I said truck (camion). So I was saying when I was at school I was a truck. I was the best truck in the school. I was really good at being a truck and nobody could beat me. When I realised later I was so embarrassed!
Last year I went back to night school to learn te reo Māori. That is the one language that I want to keep learning. I have a long way to go.
Here is a poem I wrote using some Italian words. You might be able to guess what some mean and some you will know. At the end of the line you will discover the names of Italian towns and cities.
I drove my apple-red macchina in Italia
I ate cheesy panini in Roma
I ate stretchy pizza in Napoli
I swam at the icy spiaggia in Rimini
I took a swish swash gondola in Venezia
I climbed the leaning Torre di Pisa
I ate strawberry gelato in Milano
And I got lost in car-tooting Turino
Italia è bella!