Featured Student of the Week: Frank Ammirata

By Charlie Miller | 2-minute read

Frank Ammirata wears a lot of hats: husband, traveler, gravel biker, and most recently, a student of the Italian language.

He moved to Bend four years ago from Santa Rosa, California. And while Frank didn’t originally have becoming a polyglot on his bucket list, he stresses how lucky he felt when he stumbled upon Bend Language Institute. “It’s a gift that we have [BLI] right here in the Central Oregon High Desert. You can learn so many languages all here in Bend.” Frank is a fan of outdoor recreation, in addition to being an avid and passionate traveler. The images that Frank allowed us to use in this article were taken by him on his trips to Lisbon, Oslo, Zurich and Copenhagen.

Part of Frank’s decision to learn Italian was actually inspired by visiting foreign countries with his wife and connecting with others from all over the world. Because many of the people he met spoke both English as well as their mother tongue, he said, “it became apparent that while Americans are mostly monolingual, everyone else is speaking two or three languages.” His other motivation to learn a new language is tied to his heritage. Frank is of Italian descent, and although he’s never been to Italy, he feels a close connection to the culture. In fact, he plans on someday using the Italian that he’s learning now to live in Italy part time in the future. Luckily, his wife has been picking up some vocabulary too by giving Frank a hand with his flashcards. “It’s interesting, she’s helping me study but she’s actually learning too!”

Frank has been taking classes at Bend Language Institute for four weeks and says that he enjoys how varied his options are for learning at BLI, whether it be in a small classroom or an individual session. When asked what type of lessons he takes, Frank said “partially private lessons and partially classroom learning, I like the flexibility […] I can be around others but it’s smaller and more involved than a big classroom.”

When asked what kind of advice he would give to someone considering studying a new language, Frank said not to wait and just jump right in. “I said I wanted to become fluent in five years because those five years will go by anyway, so I may as well do something fun that’ll come in handy.”

One challenge Frank mentioned is that it can be particularly discouraging to feel as though your rate of learning is slow or inadequate. Something that helped him a lot was reassuring discussions with Bend Language Institute’s founder, Dr. Christina Cappy. “She’s an expert in education and how people learn, and when it’s coming from an expert, it’s just more palatable and believable. It really gives you a sense of relief to know you’re not incapable.” He noted that at a larger institute, that kind of powerful conversation might not have happened.

My time talking with Frank can be summed up like this: if there’s something out there you want to try, go for it. Time ticks away regardless of if you want it to or not, so you might as well do something you’ll enjoy.