Last night I sat in on an Italian conversation group. My Italian is really rusty, and I'm rubbish with irregular verbs. Part of me was silently screaming inside about it being "good enough", and I'm now worried I've hit a point where it's going to be difficult to motivate myself to study. I can understand a heck of a lot on TV and radio, and I can make myself understood, so why should I put the effort in to do it right?
And yet, if I'm stepping into someone else's learning experience, I have a duty not to spoil it for them, don't I? If I'm throwing out weird Italiañol, it's hardly going to help them learn.
I suppose I now understand a bit better why all the foreigners I met in Edinburgh stopped improving, and if I can genuinely motivate myself to learn Italian properly, maybe I'll work out how to help all those people too.
But one thing's for certain -- effort's not the answer. If it feels like hard work, I'm not going to be able to force myself to do it. Well, maybe I can, but what's the value if I do? I learn Italian, but I learn nothing about how to help those who just can't see the point in making the effort.