Is Romance the Best Way to Learn a New Language?

Here’s a special Valentine’s Day tip for learning a new language- find a foreign sweetheart! According to an article from DallasNews, a love affair is the best way to become fluent in another language.

That may sound incredibly cheesy, but consider this striking statistic: language learners who have either a significant other or a parent who is fluent in the language they are trying to learn will become fluent themselves in about the half the time it takes someone without a parent or romantic partner who speaks the language.

In the article, Philip Sweet, a professor of German at Radford University in Virginia, explains why becoming involved with someone who speaks another language can help you become fluent so much more quickly:

“Emotion is the printing fluid of memory. If you’re with somebody that you’re in love with, it makes a lot of things – really everything – that you’re doing exciting. Those phrases that you hear … you’re more likely to remember them.”

The article follows two Italian/American couples who met in Italy. Both couples found that their fluency in each other’s languages blossomed along with their relationships. In fact, when Italian Alessandro Cannali moved back to the US with his American-born wife, he tried to take an English As a Second Language class but was advised he was already too fluent, and would need to take an English class for native speakers.

Of course, if you’re already happily settled with a fellow native English speaker, there’s no need to indulge in an illicit affair to learn a new language. Being “in love” helps, but according to Chiara Crippa, the managing director for an Italian school called Italiaidea, you can just as easily fall in love with the culture:

The student doesn’t need an Italian sweetheart, Crippa insisted. Infatuation with the country’s language, food or music will suffice if it pushes a student to learn, for example, indirect object pronouns.

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