The #1 question I hear after "How's Italy?" is "Do you speak Italian yet?"
My answer is something like, ehh, I babble well *shrug*
But in reality, I'm mostly understood and definitely get what I need.
Put it this way: if a non-Italian speaking person hears me speaking Italian, then YES, I'm fluent. If an Italian speaking person hears me speaking Italian, then ...
Much like a child learning to talk, my words are simple and something like "I no want that." or "Me no like that." Like, the other day I asked, "Can I chair?" (instead of Can I sit?)
Even though the Italians seem to be tolerant of my speaking ability, who ever I'm talking to is QUICK to correct me... I know I need a lot of improvement.
More good news, as long as the person isn't talking too fast, I can understand Italian and/or figure it out quickly based on the words I understand. And I attend an Italian course that is in all Italian so the exposure to listening and HAVING to understand is pretty helpful.
Group conversation gets fuzzy because there's a lot of Italian going on at once and it's very hard to follow. I often find myself looking to Luca to translate or catch me up. That really sucks because by then, I've missed the punch line or the table laughter has settled. And/or by the time I put my response/question together, the conversation has moved two steps forward. I'm the late one!
Honestly, some days are better than others! The other night I completely dreamed in Italian. I was explaining to the pool lady that I forgot my purse in the locker room. I felt so proud of myself waking up. Ha ha!
But then there are days when my brain is completely blank to Italian and I call a toilet a toiletto.
I guess it's an ongoing process full of moments of YAY and moments of complete frustration.
You know what's really weird though? I totally forget my english!! I'm not kidding... I can't find words and my brain tries to auto translate. And then I really sound like a dumb dumb! I can't speak Italian OR English. I'll be like, "I can't find the... what's the opposite of exit?" ...
I know what I want to say, but I just can't remember the right word for it. I think it's because my English is now limited to common, simple, daily conversation type words (I need to read read read to keep my vocabulary expanded).
So sometimes you'll hear me speaking my Italianglish, mixing English words with Italian, "Honey, andiamo, let's go fuori?" And I say "Cosa?" A LOT.
So, Parli Italiano?
Parlo poco ma capisco se parli più lento!! Come un bambino ;) ;)