There are plenty of different reasons for learning a new language, especially Italian. For one, you might just think the Italian language sounds beautiful. When it comes to “beautiful languages”, Italian’s definitely up there. Italian phrases can make your heart melt.
Maybe that’s why you’ve decided to learn the language despite having literally never uttered any Italian words in your life. Whatever your reasons for embarking on a language learning adventure, we’ve got some advice for you...
Why Should You Learn Italian?
This is an interesting question. You don’t really need any reason to learn Italian. If you feel like learning Italian, you should just go for it.
However, in terms of personal development and the benefits, we should really phrase this question as “Why should you learn Italian today instead of tomorrow?”
Italian is the third most spoken language in the European Union. It may seem strange but it’s true. Italian gets the bronze medal.
In first place we find German with 79 million speakers. Then there’s English with 65 million speakers. Italian is spoken by around 63 million speakers and French is in fourth place with 60 million speakers across the EU. While the vast majority of these people are found in Italy, Switzerland, the Vatican City, San Marino, and Malta are also Italian speaking places.
Italy for Business
When it comes to multilingual candidates most of them will speak English, German, or Spanish.
Learning Italian and taking Italian lessons can give a candidate a unique selling point, making them more attractive to prospective employers. While Italy doesn’t top the UK’s list of business partners, it is in 9th place in terms of exports and ahead of Spain. It still account for $13.1 billion of exports.
Learning Italian, even from scratch, could do wonders for career. Even for jobs that don't require that you know how to speak Italian, employers are often impressed by candidates who learnt how to speak a foreign language.
A World-Famous Culture
Another reason to start learning is Italian is to get closer to Italian culture. No matter what type of language course you do, you'll be hard-pressed not to hear anything about Italy's marvellous language and culture.
Italy is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and millions flock there every year to discover the dolce vita, its beautiful landscapes, monuments, and its language, not to mention the birthplace of the Renaissance (Florence) and its incredible cuisine.
Knowing the language, even if you're not fluent, or having an understanding of basic Italian expressions is always a huge benefit when it comes to visiting anywhere and it can help make every trip far more enjoyable. You don't even need to take an intensive Italian course, you can always take Italian lessons online by practising a few Italian verbs or download and study a phrasebook before your trip to Italy.
Make the Most of the Similarities with English
The first thing to know when you start learning Italian from scratch is that you’re not really learning Italian from scratch.
In fact, half of English vocabulary is of Latin or French origin meaning that it has shared roots with Italian vocabulary. This means that a lot of words will resemble English words and although Italian is a foreign language, it's not that foreign.
Does that mean Italian’s easy to learn?
Not really. However, it does mean that it tends to be easier to learn than languages like Russian or Chinese. Studies show that it’s easier to learn a language, like Italian if it has a lot in common with your mother tongue. It also helps when it uses the same alphabet as yours.
Unfortunately, since it's a Romance language, Italian grammar is more similar to that of French and Spanish and Italian verbs have plenty of conjugations. While Italian is probably more easily learnt by a Spanish or French speaker, it's not impossible for an English speaker to master the language.
In fact, with enough time and effort, any language can be learnt by anyone of any age!
Getting Italian Private Tutorials
Let’s have a look at one of the best ways to learn a language when you’re starting from square one.
Before you jet off to Italy and immerse yourself in the language, we’d recommend learning the basics of speaking Italian with the help of a private tutor. Hear us out!
While immersion is the best way to learn a language, it can always help to have either taken an Italian language course at school or at a dedicated language school or have had conversational classes with a private tutor so that you have the necessary language skills to get by when you land in Italia.
If you want to get the basics down, we recommend a private tutor to help you quickly learn Italian.
If you take a look at Superprof’s website, you can find a private tutor offering language courses and Italian for beginners who lives and works near you. They’ll be able to teach you everything you need to know before you go and most tutors will offer free Italian lessons for the first hour so you can see if they're the right person for you. Grazie!
You’ll soon see how similar Italian is to English sometimes.
You’ll probably start with the most important verbs like “fare” (do), “avere” (have), “essere” (be”), etc.
Then you’ll probably go over the numbers, pronouns, negative, and everyday vocabulary. You can learn all this very quickly with the help of a private tutor.
Unlike a classroom of 30 students, a private tutorial will focus solely on you and be adapted to you. If you struggle with something, your tutor will be there to help you.
Even when starting from scratch, private Italian tutorials are one of the quickest ways to learn. So look for Italian courses London or Aberdeen to find a tutor near you!
Make Word Lists to Improve Your Italian Vocabulary
In addition to private tutorials, this is a great technique. Simple yet effective. While you’re learning the basics of Italian like the conjugations and grammar, you should also work on improving your vocabulary.
If you don’t work on your vocabulary, it doesn’t matter how good your grammar is. You won’t have any words to work with during your Italian conversations!
You can do this by activating your visual memory. It’s simple: make your own vocabulary lists. You can organise them by theme, too.
Start by putting together a list of important everyday verbs. Then a list of body parts. After that, you can put together lists of numbers, food, transport, sport, clothes, animals, etc. You should also put together a list of new words and phrases at the end of each of your language lessons.
Thanks to the lexical similarities between English and Italian, you should be able to learn up to 20 words per day. You can also group these lists by word types such as adjectives, nouns, verbs, linkers, etc. This is a method you should definitely try if you’re taking Italian at GCSE or A Level, too.
Learning Italian Alongside Spanish
A quick bit of advice for those who’ve just started to learn to speak Italian.
If you’re also learning Spanish, be careful not to get the two languages muddled. If you’ve already learnt Spanish, it can be difficult to not just say the Spanish word.
Don't worry if you start to confuse Italian with another Romance language. Once you get familiar with both languages, you'll be able to comfortably distinguish them.
Why’s that? Put simply, the two languages share a lot of similarities. Even if you’re doing your best to think of the Italian word, sometimes the Spanish word will just slip out.
It happens to everybody. Perhaps you’ve asked yourself how you say “village” in Italian. Well, it’s “pueblo” in Spanish but that bears no resemblance to Italian. In fact, it’s even easier in Italian: “vilaggio”. A tutor will help you to avoid picking up bad habits.
Head to Italy for Complete Immersion
Now that you’ve got the basics down, are you ready to go to Italy? You’ve learnt the fundamentals. There’s nothing else to do but go to Italy. Your next step will be onto the plane.
Of course, you could always go to Italy before learning a single word. The great thing about immersion is that sooner or later, everyone gets the hang of it.
However, you should probably get the basics. This will help you find a job, for example. Getting a job will help you learn even more Italian.
In short, if you’re starting from scratch, start with private tutorials, personal study, and finally immersion. If you do this, you’ll easily have a very good level in six months. If you’re brave enough, why not head straight to Rome? Learn how to master Italian on your own with our solo learning blog.