There are an estimated 200,000 Italian speakers in the UK.
The UK is also linked to Italy in terms of its Roman heritage. In fact, a quarter of English words are of Latin origin! There are more similarities between English and Italian than you might first think. While we’re not saying that Italian is easy to learn, there are a number of ways to make learning Italian easier.
The Internet, for example, is a great help. There are free on-line courses, Italian news media, and Italian films that can help to bring you closer to the Italian language. We’ve got a few suggestions to keep you motivated when you learn Italian.
After all, learning Italian requires:
A large personal investment and a lot of work
Motivation for learning
Varied resources in order to work effectively.
Some people love challenging themselves. We’re not talking about losing half a stone in a month or a short-term challenges. We’re talking about long-term life-changing challenges and the kind of challenges that require giving it your all over a long period of time. Challenges like sailing the Atlantic, climbing Kilimanjaro, or learning a language on your own.
While learning Italian on your own is possible, we didn’t say it was easy. (Source: Martin)
Let us explain! While it mightn’t be as difficult as crossing an ocean or reaching a summit, there are plenty of similarities. Learning Italian while at school or without the right resources, tutorials, or a dedicated tutor, can make things impossible.
Nowadays, between work, family, and friends, there isn’t much time left to study a language. Then there’s the money. Italian tutorials with native tutors can sometimes be quite costly. Your only option might be to learn Italian on your own. Is that even possible?
In the digital age, yes. Of course. 20 years ago we would have also said it was possible but it was much more difficult! Italian students at the time didn’t have:
Tonnes of sites to learn Italian
Free Italian lessons via apps
Italian language courses from Italian teachers on sites like YouTube
Italian films available to download
On-line Italian newspapers and articles
Thanks to our computers, tablets, and smartphones, learning Italian has been made much easier. Furthermore, for those on a budget, there are plenty of ways to learn Italian for free.
We’ll tell you about these resources in a bit. However, do you have the right tools at your disposal? What are your methods? There are plenty of fun and educational resources but are you motivated enough to learn Italian on your own.
Doing it on your own without Italian language lessons for your speaking practise requires a huge amount of motivation. You’re going to have to put in more than just a week’s worth of work. Do you even enjoy learning a new language?
As Gandhi said:
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
If you’re hungry for learning, you might be able to learn to speak Italian without the help of an Italian private tutor. On the other hand, if you lack motivation or need someone to help, you’ll quickly give up. If you’re worried about giving up, then it might be worth contacting a private tutor to help learn Italian quick.
Learning Italian may be easier thank you think since over half of English vocabulary is either from Latin or French which are both related to Italian.
The weather isn’t really the same, though… (Source: pixabay.com)
This means that half of your vocabulary is already similar to that of Italian. In fact, Latin helped created languages like Spanish, Catalan, and Romanian, too. Even though English is a Germanic language, it has a lot of words from Romance languages.
This fact might be worth holding on to whenever you feel like giving up learning Italian. When you first start out, Italian might not be as foreign as you first thought. Here are just a few words that are very similar:
There are literally thousands of examples like this. In some respects, the grammar can be simpler than that of English.
Can you learn Italian on-line? Of course! It’s one of the best ways to start learning Italian. The Internet will be your main resource if you’re learning Italian without a tutor.
Learning Italian for free on-line can be quite simple. There are plenty sites offering Italian classes, grammar lessons, conjugations, the Italian alphabet, etc. Finding the best ones can be tricky. Here are 3 of our favourites:
Thousands of students have used these sites over the years. They’re useful resources for students wanting to start learning Italian. There are interactive activities, quizzes, Italian lessons, grammar references, vocabulary lists, Italian verbs, the Italian alphabet, pronunciation guides, etc.
We haven’t forgotten about apps. Smartphones and tablets offer a fun and free way for you to learn Italian. Just like websites for learning Italian, there are also plenty of apps.
Don’t panic! With the right tools, you can make learning Italian much easier.
Italian cinema and Italian culture are some of the most enjoyable ways to learn Italian on your own. You can also combine these resources with more traditional ones to help you achieve your goals all while learning more about Italian-speaking culture. Consider using films, television, reading, Italian tutorials on-line, and worksheets together.
Cinema is a fascinating and engaging way to learn a language. (Source: Donald Tong)
Let’s get back to Italian cinema and culture. Italy has a long history of creating beautiful cinematic stories for the silver screen. Along with the US, India, France, Spain, China, Japan, and the UK, Italy is one of the biggest producers of film.
That means there are plenty of classic Italian films. You may be familiar with directors like Roberto Beigni, Sergio Leone, Ettore Scola, Federico Fellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and the Italian-American director Martin Scorsese.
What better way to learn Italian than watching an Italian film!
Italian cinema gives you an opportunity to train your ear to the accent, familiarise yourself with the grammar, and learn new vocab.
Here are a few films by Italian directors
Once Upon A Time in America
Once Upon A Time in America
This is the last film directed by Sergio Leone. Once Upon A Time in America tells the story of David Aaronson, nicknamed “Noodles”, portrayed by Robert de Niro. The film takes place in New York from the time of prohibition until the 1960s and covers Noodle’s life from his childhood in city’s Jewish slum up to the staggering heights of the New York crime scene.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo
Another Sergio Leone epic but from a different genre! This film is considered to be the best example of a “Spaghetti Western”, a Western film usually directed and produced by Italians. It tells the stories of gunslingers during the American Civil War (1861-1865) looking to find a hidden cache of gold. Clint Eastwood plays Blondie “The Good”, Lee Van Cleef plays Angel Eyes “The Bad”, and Eli Wallach plays Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramiez, “The Ugly”. It’s also worth watching for the incredible soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone.
Life is Beautiful
La vita è bella
This is a tragic Italian comedy and a great way to hear the Italian language from Roberto Benigni, the film’s protagonist and director. In 1939, Guido Orefico, a young Italian Jew and his son Giosué are deported to a German concentration camp. To shelter his son from the horrors of the situation, Guido makes him believe that they are taking part in a game. A wonderful story of mankind’s willpower in the face of its inhumanity. Make sure you listen closely to the Italian! It’s beautiful!
Otto e mezzo
A Federico Fellini masterpiece including Marcello Mastroianni and Anouk Aimée. This 1963 comedy-drama follows the life of Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian director in the process of making his next big film, and his lovelife with his wife Luiza and his mistress Carla.
La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita
This French-Italian film came out in 1960 and won the Palme d’Or at the 13th Cannes Film Festival. The film includes a series of different chapters and follows Marcello Rubini (played by Marcello Mastroianni), a journalist, over the course of a week in Rome as he searches for love and happiness through Rome’s “sweet life”. A free Italian lesson in Rome!
We All Loved Each Other So Much
C’eravamo tanto amati
This comedy-drama from Ettore Scola starring Nino Manfredi and Vittorio Gassman tells the story of 3 former resistance members, Gianni, Nicola, and Antonio, who went underground in 1944 to fight the Nazis. At the time of liberation, the 3 friends parted ways but ended up finding each other again. A beautiful human story and an Italian lesson on friendship!
The Easy Life
Il Sorpasso is a 1962 Italian cult comedy directed by Dino Risi. It’s a comedy masterpiece starring Vittorio Gassman, one of the biggest Italian actors of the time, and Jean-Louis Trintignant playing a law student. It’s a great way to study Italian culture and vocabulary at the same time!
This French-Italian film directed by the great Luchino Visconti came out in 1963 and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival the same year. The film is based on the novel of the same name and stars Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale. The film takes place in 1860 following the Sicily following Garibaldi’s arrival and tells the story of the end of Italy’s aristocracy who were nicknamed “the Leopards”.
Gomorrah is a 2008 film based on the book of the same name by Roberto Saviano on the Napolitan mafia in the Camorra. It follows the story of two crime syndicates in the Camorra fighting for control of the city’s different trafficking routes. Italian lessons from mafia members?
This film takes you back to Rome in the 1970s. It follows the story of Lebanese, a gang member, as he tries to rule the underworld with Cold. They both have to face Terrible, another gang leader, and Scialoja, the police commissioner trying to arrest them.
You should also check out the films of Marcello Mastroianni, Mario Girotti, Nanni Moretti, Sophia Loren, Monica Bellucci, Claudia Cardinale, Ornella Mutti, Monica Vitti, and Asia Argento.
Italy and the Wild West are geographically similar. (Source: pixabay.com)
If you’re studying Italian, then you should watch every Italian film in Italian, starting with English subtitles before moving on to Italian subtitles. Once you’ve advanced enough, you can turn the subtitles off. By this point, you should be able to watch almost any Italian film.
Here’s some practical advice for learning Italian on your own. Have you decided to learn Italian for free? That’s a good idea! You’ve probably started by learning a bit of Italian on-line via free websites, apps, and on-line video. We imagine you’ve got the basics down: Italian grammar, conjugations, syntax, vocabulary, sentence structure, pronunciation, etc. With all this fresh in your mind, it’s time to move onto the next step: reading in Italian!
As a beginner in Italian, we’re not going to tell you to start reading novels. Even for avid readers, it’s a bit early to be doing that. Let’s start with something more accessible like newspapers. If you like sport, you might be interested in reading some of these Italian sports papers:
La Gazzetta Dello Sport
Corrierre Dello Sport
As you may already know, Italy loves football. For those who aren’t as interested in football as Italy, these papers can still help you as they use more simplified language than a novel would. That doesn’t mean that reading sports papers won’t help your vocabulary, though. You can find versions on-line (often as .pdfs) or in international newsagents.
Newspapers are handy for keeping up with current affairs and learning Italian. (Source: Brotin Biswas)
Free papers are a great way to help you learn Italian, too: Metro, City, Dnews, Leggo. Finally, if you want to tackle Italian head on, you should also consider reading papers like Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, La Stampa, as well as Sole 24 ORE.
Learning Italian can sometimes seem difficult or even impossible. However, there’s a fun way that you mightn’t have tried yet: learning Italian through music!
The first step you need to take is finding music that you like. There are plenty of different types of Italian music to choose from! We recommend starting with genres that you already listen to. Look for the lyrics of songs you like.
Listen to them over and over and practise your pronunciation in Italian. After you’ve listened to music you like, you should start trying out other styles.
Listen to classical music. It can be useful to listen to a capella music since that way you can focus solely on the words. Classical Italian music is often low tempo meaning it’s easier to hear all the words.
Italian is a language that sings. You can learn a lot on your own just by listening to Italian music.
Italian songs often cover themes like love, deception, as well as the country’s traditions. By listening to Italian music, you might even learn a bit about Italian culture.
You’ll also probably come across specific music vocabulary.
Concertino: small concert
Fortissimo: very loud
Opera buffa: comic opera
There are so many words you could learn.
Don’t forget to listen to current music, too. Don’t choose something too complicated that you’ll struggle to understand. Of course, this method can never replace a dedicated Italian tutor but it can help you on your way.
If Italian lessons are getting you down, you could always learn Italian with these 10 songs! You’ll learn as many words as you would during a lesson as well as seeing plenty of examples of Italian grammar.
Don’t forget to watch the videos on YouTube so you can see the lyrics in Italian, too!
Al Bano, real name Albano Carrisi, is a popular Italian songwriter from near Brindisi. His father gave him his name because he had fought in Albania during the Second World War. Thanks Wikipedia! A useful bit of trivia you could always tell your Italian friends!
Credit where credit is due. Vivo Per Lei is in fact a cover of Oro’s 1995 track. Thank you, Oro, for this magnificent song! There’s also a French-Italian duet with Helene Segara that’s worth listening to.
This 1977 song is for anyone who wants to learn the Italian of “Amore”! Listen at full volume!
The famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti had one of the world’s most beautiful voices. Powerful, moving, intoxicating… The Italian language at its best!
Some say Ramazotti is one of the best singers of his generation. We’ll let you decide.
Two of Italy’s best pop songs.
Modern Italy’s biggest singer. From the 90s to today, her songs are a must for anyone studying Italian.
Following an Italian TV competition (Amici) in 2009, Alessandra captured the hearts of the Italians. What about yours?
A singer, author, composer, lyricist, and instrumentalist influenced by jazz and the blues, Paolo Conte is one of Italy’s most famous artists. He was born in 1937 in Asti. His most famous songs include “Come di”, “Via con me”, “Un gelato al limon” and “Diabolo rosso”. Let him be your Italian tutor!
You can learn a lot of Italian from songs you love. We can’t put it simpler than that!
Learning a language on your own is quite the personal challenge!
You have to be methodical and rigorous if you want to improve. You should consider studying spelling, grammar, and vocabulary with lists. You can organise your lists by topic.
The better your vocabulary, the less you’ll sound like a tourist. (Source: skitterphoto.com)
You can go back over vocabulary easily.
If you’re going to stay in Italy, why not print out this little list of English-Italian expressions or copy them into your phone to practise on the go.
Thank you very much
Grazie mille (grazie)
How are you?
Scusi il disturbo
Nice to meet you
Here is a short list of things you might find in your Italian drawers
Una maglietta: a t-shirt
Una camicia: a shirt
Una sciarpa: a scarf
Un cappello: a hat
Una gonna: a skirt
If you’re going to learn Italian, you have to learn about food!
Il primo piatto: starter
Il secondo piatto: main course
Il contorno: side dish
Il dessert: dessert
Una bottiglia di vino: a bottle of wine
Una bistecca al sangue: a rare steak
It might be wise to learn about transport in order to get around.
Il tramway: tram
La macchina: car
La bicicletta: bicycle
Il treno: train
Il taxi: taxi
You can use these three lists of Italian vocabulary to boost your lexicon.
You could even carry around a vocabulary notebook.
Nothing beats total immersion in the host country when it comes to learning a language. You’ll have to speak Italian to be understood. Whether you’re getting a coffee, having dinner, or reserving a hotel, you’ll have to use your Italian!
Italy’s beautiful. Why wouldn’t you want to go? (Source: pixabay.com)
Spend some time living like an Italian, learning vocabulary, improving your grammar, and getting better at speaking Italian. Erasmus is a great way to spend time in Italy if you’re a student. You can also talk to other people from all over Europe in Italian.
Live in Italy, discover la dolce vita while drinking a coffee, and visit some of the world’s most beautiful monuments including the Colosseum, Saint Mark’s Square, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There are plenty of great reasons to go to Italy.
A linguistic stay also looks great on your CV! Don’t forget to put it on. In fact, a lot of employers look for candidates with international experience.
Doing a linguistic stay on your own shows employers that:
You’re interested in foreign languages and cultures
That you have an understanding of Italian
Let’s go! Pack your bags!
Thanks to the Internet, anyone can learn a language on their own. There are Italian tutorials, videos, and podcasts, as well as written exercises.
You can also learn Italian on your phone. There are downloadable apps which allow you to study Italian vocabulary on the train, conjugate verbs before bed, or just count to 20 while waiting for the bus.
You could also learn Italian while learning how to cook. (Source: Angele J)
Whether for children or adults, apps can help anyone learn a language on their own!
If you want to speak basic, intermediate, or advanced Italian, you’ll find plenty of different resources for everyone.
Here’s a short list of apps that you can download onto your phone or your tablet.
Nemo Italian for going back over the fundamentals of Italian grammar.
This app is useful for a number of reasons:
Learning basic Italian grammar
Working on your accent
Learning key vocabulary
The fact that you can use the app anywhere is a huge plus. In fact, if you’ve no deadline, you can achieve your linguistic goals comfortably.
Mosalingua: an interactive app for learning Italian with 3,000 vocabulary lists, 17 speaking scenarios, and 10 difficulty levels. This app can help you learn or go back over the basics of Italian.
Whether it’s important to know how to call a taxi, order a coffee, book a room, or even do your shopping in an Italian supermarket. There are so many different situations that the app can help you with. Get started today!
Even if you have the best Italian tutor, a great choice of resources, and are an expert in learning techniques, it’ll all be for nothing if you don’t study regularly.
There are also other tools to help you learn. Here are a few of them:
Google Translate: this can be useful for the odd word but it’ll never replace actually learning the language.
Podcasts in Italian
In short, the best way to study is whichever method keeps you motivated. Now the rest is up to you!