Since March of this year, the Oak Brook Italian Language Group has met once a month at the Panera Bread by the Oak Brook Shopping Center to share in their common love of Italian. Attendance at these meetings has steadily grown, doubling from five to ten at their meeting just this past week. As a part of the online networking site meetup.com, The Oak Brook Italian Language Group is one of many active social and special interest groups from the website that meet in the Chicago suburbs.
Wednesday’s evening meeting at Panera brought together an interesting mix of people from the area, all interested in improving their language skills in Italian. Skill levels varied from the nervous beginner to the nearly fluent, and all had unique connections to Italian culture, whether through family, travel, or purely for enjoyment. Beginners in Italian listened in on multiple conversations, but inevitably, a more advanced speaker might coax them out of their shell. “If you don’t try because you’re afraid, you’ll never learn” said one member Pete Falco. Having studied language and Italian literature in school, Pete joined the group in hopes of maintaining his Italian.
For other members, this group may serve to help them practice what they’ve learned in class or on vacation. Many members have had the wonderful opportunity to travel in Italy, and meeting up with Italian speakers once a month is a great way to reminisce and share their experiences. Or on the other hand, many have Italian-American relatives and have grown up in that culture. One member said “If you miss Italy and want to speak Italian, this is the group for you. You will feel right at home, as if you are with friends in Italy”.
Not to scare off those whose language skills are rusty, there is always room for conversation in English. The point is to practice and improve, but also to enjoy conversation with new people. But as the saying goes, practice makes perfect! The next meeting is set to take place on July 8th at 6:30pm, at Panera Bread, 1600 16th St in Oak Brook.