Chandni Sahi aka IdrawItalian on Instagram started an account that mixed her passion for art with her desire to learn a new language. She started the project early October, but has quickly gained popularity with followers spiralling from 40 to 1900 within a month. TLC had to sit down for a chat with the young artist.
What was your main inspiration behind learning Italiano? When and how did this start?
My boyfriend opened the doors to Italy for me—he is half Italian—and I fell increasingly in love with the food and vivacious culture. I knew I had to learn whatever Italian I could in the little time I had while planning my trip to travel there. Many Italians speak English, and many don’t, and I didn’t want to miss out.
How did you think of mixing art with language?
My brain is formatted to think best in visuals and words. As a graphic designer and illustrator, I find that ‘art’ is entwined in every little thing I do… so I guess it made sense for it to permeate into my mission to learn a new language. It happened pretty organically. I found myself drawing words and short comic strips of grammar rules because it helped me learn quicker, and retain what I had learnt. I remember things best when they are associated with memories, humour or even just silliness.
What’s been the hardest part about learning a new language? Any tips to make learning process fun?
The hardest part about learning a new language is to keep on going when things don’t make perfect sense, and not burning out or losing motivation along the long, long way. For me, keeping a language journal is helpful, where you can scribble any notes on grammar and make vocabulary lists. I like to draw my words or even make simple flash cards to learn vocabulary. Make things easy for your self by learning about things that interest you first. For example, I like shopping and food, so when I am in a foreign country, I make sure I know the words for any clothing of food I might want to buy or eat.
What’s your favourite destination in Italy? How often do you go back there?
Every new place I visit in Italy becomes my favourite, and I haven’t been everywhere at all, so it is hard to say. Tuscany is beautiful. I might consider Pisa to be an oft-overlooked gem and therefore my favorite—the sea and the mountains are both an hour away, so it makes a great base to explore the area from. If you visit Pisa, do go to Luca. I love the Italian concept of ‘the perfect beach day’, and there is a lot to explore along the glorious Italian coastline.
Do you and your boyfriend speak to each other in Italian?
He tries to encourage me by speaking to me in Italian sometimes. Mostly we talk in English, but I am always asking him, “Come si dice _____ in Italiano”, while pointing at random things.
Any further plans to expand your Instagram account; perhaps learn another language through art?
I started this Instagram account started because I decided to use it as a documentation of my journey as I learn the language. I had promised myself: once I post a concept/word/verb, I must must must remember it! So far it seems to be working. Its fun because other Italian learners are finding the material I post useful too, so it’s quite an interactive platform to explore. Therefore, I intend to keep learning and keep posting.