04 Apr Learner Spotlight: Gabriella Trabucchi
Finding the time to learn a new language abroad is not difficult if you have a determined spirit. To make the most of her short, yet valuable trip to Dubai, Gabriella Trabucchi decided to brush up on her seventh language by dedicating her entire vacation to study Arabic. We caught up with her and talked about her never-ending passion for learning languages.
Marhaba Gabriella! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Marhaba! I’m from Switzerland, but I’m originally Italian. Both of my parents immigrated to Switzerland for work and that’s where I was born and raised. I live in Lugano; it is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. I’m a mother of two wonderful sons; a 23-year-old and a 24-year-old. I currently work as a property manager. In my free time, I enjoy meditation, reading, watching movies, listening to music, and working out. I also love traveling! I’m always curious about everything around me. I take passion in anything and everything that comes my way.
We heard you are a polyglot! How many languages do you speak?
I speak six languages fluently! Being born in Switzerland is a huge advantage for someone who has a knack for languages. If we go back in Swiss history and the Helvetic Republic or as it is commonly referred to as “Confédération helvétique”, there were (and still are) four national languages in Switzeland: Swiss German, Italian, French and Romansh. With little to no effort at all, I spoke four languages ever since I was 13 years old, but instead of Romansh, I spoke German. Although Swiss German is in fact a dialect, it is spoken on national TV and it is now recognized as an official language. Later on, I traveled to Mexico to learn Spanish, which I found very easy since I speak Italian.
Wow! It sounds like you have a strong passion for languages.
Yes, I do! I never felt challenged while learning them and I always felt compelled to learn more languages. I’m constantly thinking of what language to learn next and I had three in mind – Russian, Chinese and Arabic. For some reason, I felt a strong urge to choose Arabic.
What inspired you to learn Arabic?
I have many friends in the Middle East and I also once traveled to Morocco and really enjoyed listening to their dialect. I felt a desire to learn how to speak it because I wanted to be able to communicate with the local people. I knew this was going to be hard and at the same time a big challenge since I knew it would not just land on my lap like the other languages, but it truly compelled me to make a real effort this time.
“I felt a desire to learn how to speak it because I wanted to be able to communicate with the local people.”
Do you have previous knowledge of Arabic?
I only know a few words and phrases like saying “sabah el-khair” (good morning) and “habibi” (my beloved). I had bought a bunch of books and CDs but I never really started to listen to them or read anything until recently. When I chose one CD from the stack and started to listen to it in my car while going to work and back, it kind of propelled me into a new world and I couldn’t get enough.
How did you find out about Eton Institute?
I waited for some time until I finally made a decision to travel to a place to learn Arabic. I searched the internet for language schools in Dubai and came across a few. I pondered for a while and instinctively picked Eton Institute. I right away informed my friend who lives in Fujairah that I’m going to travel to Dubai to learn Arabic at Eton Institute. She gave me the thumbs up!
That’s amazing! Tell us about your experience taking Arabic at Eton Institute.
My experience at Eton Institute couldn’t have been any better. I loved roaming around the institute all day long, occupying any available classroom so I could sit there memorize words, learn how to conjugate verbs, and practice pronunciation. I’m thankful to the Arabic speaking staff members, at the institute, who helped me in moments when I was stuck. I also must mention that I absolutely enjoyed being able to focus 100% on what the instructor (Professor Ali) taught me during my one-to-one classes.
“I loved roaming around the institute all day long, occupying any available classroom so I could sit there memorize words, learn how to conjugate verbs and practice pronunciation.”
What did you find challenging and how did you overcome it?
Doing 6 straight units from the textbook in less than 10 days (32 hours) was definitely challenging for me. There are times when I panicked because sometimes I struggled to remain focused considering that I was in “relaxed vacation mode”. One part of me was “yeah, time off” and the other part pulled me right back saying “no way, learn! NOW!” All I can say is if you have the passion for a language and you really want to learn it, you can do it even if you’re on a vacation, and it’s even better, believe me.
Are there any techniques or tips for learning Arabic more quickly?
I strongly believe in the interaction method, i.e. learning by hanging out with natives who speak the language. I created my own flip cards in order to have them ready everywhere I went and for when I had the opportunity to learn or hear new words (so I memorize them easily). I watched local TV channels and tried to make out the words I had recently learned.
“..if you have the passion for a language and you really want to learn it, you can do it even if you’re on a vacation, and it’s even better, believe me.”
Now that you have the basic knowledge of Arabic, do you wish to learn further? Where do you think you’ll have the opportunity to use your Arabic skills?
Yes, I want to learn further and I don’t want to leave it where it is. I want to be able to speak Arabic fluently. I’m lucky to have an Arab friend here in Switzerland. This is the only way I can practice for now. I already told her how well I did and she was moved to hear me utter words in Arabic! I’m confident that one day I will be fluent in Arabic and people will come up and talk to me.
What advice do you have for other language learners?
My advice is to never give up and to stick to the plan because it’s truly magical being able to communicate in other languages and it opens up opportunities. So, if you are curious about other cultures, learning their language is going to bring you closer to them. You’d feel connected to the spirit of the person you are talking to. In my opinion, even if you only know a few words then you have already conquered respect and sympathy. This is what motivates me to keep going.
Is your vacation coming up soon? Make it worth your while by joining one of our language courses.