My Story

C’era una volta una bambina, che si chiamava Martina…

She lived in a village on the south of Sardinia, with her mum and dad, her brothers and sister and her grandma.

Martina used to day-dream a lot and wondered what the world looked like on the other side of the sea.

One Sunday, when she and her family were at Chia beach, she approached a little boy who had built the best sandcastle ever and she tried to play with him. But he didn’t understand what Martina was saying and she didn’t understand what he was saying.

Mamma explained that the boy was speaking German and that this was a foreign language. It had never occurred to Martina that there could be more languages than Italian or Sardinian.

Martina was told then that people from different countries spoke different languages. Now, she was even more curious about discovering the world and talking to everyone.

To do so, she needed to learn to speak lots of languages. Or maybe some. So when she grew up a little more, she decided to attend a foreign language school. She started to learn French, English and Spanish.  

Martina was impatient, she wanted to be able to talk in all these languages straight away, but instead it took several years. It was a lot of work, lesson after lesson, homework after homework, exercise after exercise. If only learning a language could be more fun…

At the end of her studies, she chose England as the first country for her adventures. When she landed in London for the first time and heard someone speak English,  she thought she’d ended up in the wrong country. The language didn’t sound at all like the one she had studied in school.

But with time, she got used to the various English accents, she started to understand a little bit more and make a fool of herself a little bit less.  

One night she had a dream and it was in English. She had never dreamt in a foreign language before. Was that a big breakthrough? She wasn’t sure. She was hoping she would dream again in English, but when morning came, day after day, she couldn’t remember any of her dreams. Not in English. Not in Italian. That was disappointing.

Martina loved London and decided to settle there for a while. She would visit France and Spain (after all, she couldn’t forget her other languages!) later on.

She eventually moved to Cambridge and married Philip, an Englishman. They later had a daughter, Chiara.

Philip wanted to learn Italian, so Martina would speak Italian to her husband from time to time, especially when they travelled to Italy. But he also wanted something more structured, like a proper course or lessons, which made sense.

But with courses and lessons, there was homework too. And that wasn’t as much fun. Not what Philip wanted to do after a day’s work.

One evening, at the kitchen table, while Philip was attempting to learn the subjunctive and Chiara was doing a word search puzzle, Martina had an idea.  What about combining puzzles with learning Italian? Could that be done?

It seemed a little crazy at first, a bit out there, but why not?

So, Martina decided to learn how to make puzzles, and tried to combine these with learning new Italian vocabulary.

It was fun creating these puzzles and games; she later shared them with Philip and with some friends who were learning Italian. They seemed to like them. Some said they loved them. That was something.

So Martina decided to make more puzzles and share them with others too, people she didn’t know personally, who were also learning Italian.

There was no expectations that those who played with her puzzles would become fluent in Italian. Nah.

All Martina was hoping for was that people would have fun, and while they were having fun, they might also discover new Italian words, and increase their vocabulary. Maybe also pick up some nuggets of her Italian culture as well. Was that too much to wish for? Hopefully not.

Thank You.

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