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Learn Italian at Home

By Sophia, published on 11/10/2017 Blog > Languages > Italian > Teach Yourself Italian

Learning a foreign language: smashing idea!

You’ve settled on Italian?

Good choice! Dante’s language is perhaps the easiest of all romance languages to learn.

The vocabulary and the sheer richness of the language will seduce you, just as the art of living Italian would.

How do you put all of that fire and enthusiasm into practical learning of the language before actually making your way to country to experience that fabled lifestyle?

Superprof has got you covered!

Read on for tips on how to master Italian quickly.

Learning Italian at Home: Five Tips

Learn Vocabulary

Considering the mellifluous quality of this romance language, it would be a shame to not learn it well. Here are our tips for learning Italian at home.

And, Italy being one of the top five destinations for holiday travel, wouldn’t it make sense to learn to speak the language?

It would certainly be easier than learning tonal Mandarin or deciphering Japanese characters!

In fact, you already know at least one Italian word, whether you’ve been to that country or not.

The word umbrella is a direct import from Italian vocabulary.

Superprof language tutors are standing by to teach you everything from buongiorno to buonasera, including scusi (good day, good evening and pardon me, respectively).

Should you be planning a holiday in Tuscany, or even if you have the pleasure of meeting someone from Rome on our own British soil, you could be ready to converse with them after just a few sessions with us.

Even more tempting: most of our tutors offer their first lesson free!

Learn how to say good evening before holidaying in Tuscany Learn how to say buonsera before you holiday in Tuscany Source: Pixabay Credit: Cal Prest

Making Use of Free Resources

Online you will find many English-Italian dictionaries that can help you learn individual words.

  • Collins Dictionary is always ready to help with all of your language needs – even word translation.
  • Word Reference is a dictionary page that includes a verb conjugation list in Italian, to help you learn them faster.
  • With Learn Language, you can practice a variety of phrases in Italian, grouped by category.

Be sure to take any or all of these guides with you as you head out on holiday, or carry them with you to study on the bus or tube.

What About Grammar?

Granted, Italian (and French and Spanish) grammar is a bit different than English grammar.

Those three languages being romantic, they share many of the same grammar rules. English, being Germanic, does not have the same characteristics.

Here are three major differences between English and Italian grammar:

  1. gender assignment: each object is either masculine – il, or feminine – la.
    1. Suffixes: -zione is feminine; -mento is masculine
  2. word order: adjectives follow the noun – las cosas bellas, literally: the things beautiful
  3. verb tenses: only five in Italian, compared with sixteen in English
    1. beyond the present, past, future, imperfect and conditional, nuance in Italian is expressed through auxiliary verb usage.

Putting it all Together

You learn Italian by eating Italian food. S. Strain

Of course, learning to speak the language of Dante Alighieri is a bit more involved than gnawing on osso bucco or twirling pasta, but there is some merit to that claim.

If you wish to learn Italian, you should immerse yourself into the culture: listen to the music, watch the movies, eat the food and talk to the people.

That last, in particular, is a critical step in the language learning process.

Once you have built up a bit of vocabulary, learned a few verb tenses and have practiced word order, you should set about discovering the music of the language – its rhythm and flow.

Here is where your Superprof tutor shines. Inasmuch as possible, you should speak Italian with your teacher, to practise tone and inflection.

Your teacher would respond in Italian, a boost to your developing listening skills.

Eating Italian food is a part culture learning You won’t learn Italian by eating capaccio, but it sure does taste good! Source: Pixabay Credit: Jereskok

Flash Cards and Vocabulary Lists

You have just completed a great Italian lesson online: you are on fire with the need to express yourself using your newly-learned words!

Don’t fall victim to the como dire (how to say it) quandary: build vocabulary lists, or make flash cards.

Too old-fashioned a solution to modern learning, you say?

Not at all!

Writing by hand has been proven to boost retention of learned material, even more so than typing data into a notebook or tablet.

Writing will help you better retain:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar rules
  • speech patterns
  • phonetics of the language

One additional suggestion: you should you study your flash cards before falling asleep. Your brain will efficiently file away all that you have learned for easier recall during future lessons.

Formal and Informal Language Learning

Superprof knows that language learning – or, for that matter any learning should be fun and engaging.

Let us now propose a few avenues of informal learning that will fan the flames of your desire to learn Italian between classes.

There is no better way to immerse yourself in language learning than to surround yourself with Italian dialogue.

Short of moving to Naples, the closest you could come to that effect while still at home in the UK is to watch Italian movies… without changing the soundtrack to English.

An added benefit to such movies is that you will be exposed to Standard Italian; not any of its estimated thirty-four dialects.

Here are a few titles to consider:

  • La Vita è Bella – Life is Beautiful; a poignant classic
  • Il Gattopardo – The Leopard; featuring an international cast

  • any of Nanni Moretti‘s films, such as: La Stanza de Figlio – the Son’s Room; or Caro Diario (Dear Diary)

Are you rather into television series?

You might then binge on Gomorra, a series about about Neopolitan mafia’s competition with the Camorra family business.

It launched in 2014 to critical and public acclaim, running for 2 series; a total of 24 episodes.

It will be an education into authentic Italian mafia!

If the mafia is indeed your thing…

Cast about for Romanze Criminale, a 2008 story broadcast in 2 series, for a total of 12 episodes.

It revolves around a Roman gang looking for their fortune.

Luckily, we live in a time of ultimate connectivity, where a simple online search can reveal all of the Italian entertainment you could wish for.

There is no longer any need to wait for a Foreign Film Festival to see the latest and greatest of what Italy has to offer!

Practice your language skills with friendly Italians Italians are generally friendly and effusive Source: Pixabay Credit Yenni Vance

Speak Italian with Italians

In spite of all the Mafia-related television shows, people native to Italy tend to be a friendly bunch; open and appreciative of anyone who wants to learn anything authentically Old Country.

With the number of Italian expats who now prefer Great Britain over Germany as their country of choice to settle in, you are more likely than ever to run into a newly arrived Napoli or Sicilian!

Let us not greet them with typical British reserve.

We should meet them with open minds and our developing language skills!

You could surely approach any Italian expat, explain that you are learning their language and ask them to help you practice your speaking skills.

You may have to ask them to slow down their speech.

In their enthusiasm and joy at knowing your desire to perpetuate their culture by learning their language, they may embrace your efforts with verve and staccato speech.

Staccato: another fine Italian import into the English language.

In return for their helping you practice your language skills, you could help them find their way around town or maybe even get them familiar with British slang!

Organise a Learning Trip

If your peak of language learning coincides with your next holiday, why not do a Tour of Italy?

Air fares to Rome, Milan, Naples and Pompeii are fairly low, especially as we approach the tourist off-season.

You could hike the Appian Way, meeting like-minded folks from all over the country who want to enjoy this ancient military road, and who would most likely delight in exchanging culture and language with you.

Or you could just stick to the cities.

Whether sipping espresso or reflecting on architecture over a bruschetta, applying your language skills among native speakers, in authentic settings is sure to improve your fluency.

Better than any language course could teach you, ordering from a menu and having conversation with new friends will help you build proficiency in lingua Italiano.

Soon, you too will be able to order the most famous Italian dishes from all over the country!

What About Cooking Italian Food?

Our modern cooking style makes it easy to prepare spaghetti or chicken Alfredo for our evening meal.

Opening up a tin or heating up a frozen meal does not an Italian chef make.

Another fun, engaging way to learn Italian culture would be to take a cooking class.

All around the UK, you can find restaurants or cooking schools that offer classes in Italian cooking.

How’s that for a delicious way to learn Italian speaking: while making tiramisu?

One last suggestion, for the novice learner and the advanced: read books in Italian!

Reading in Italian gives you a means to absorb Italian phrases not found in textbooks and perhaps not used in any travel phrase book.

Whether you read basic Italian or spent two years in Venice, reading (in any language) is a great way to exercise your brain, disconnect from the stress of everyday activity and treat yourself to language learning outside of any language courses.

You can learn how to make tiramisu during Italian cooking class Snack on tiramisu you made in your cooking class while practising your Italian Source: Pixabay Credit: Thuja

Preparing for Italian Lessons

Of course, you could jump right into learning Italian: watch the movies, listen to the music, read news articles…

However, your studies would be much more focused if you had an idea of what depth and aspect of the Italian language would best suit you.

1. Conversational Italian would be great for holiday-makers or if you want to diversify your friendship circle.

2. Italian grammar and vocabulary is a must if you are pursuing academic studies, or if you hope to move to Italy.

You should also determine your language aptitude.

Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced language learner?

The lessons you subscribe to should match your ability.

In order to determine how advanced your Italian learning is, you could take a test online.

Setting the Mood

You’ve just enjoyed a great holiday in Italy and now wish to learn the language so that, when you go back next year, you can enjoy it more fully.

It is quite common that, after a positive experience, one wishes to repeat it – only with more preparation, in order to get the most out of it.

If all you can do is long for Sicily’s sandy beaches, maybe you should tune in to Eiffel 65, a band whose leading member is from your dream destination.

Could you learn Italian from their songs?

And who doesn’t know of Andrea Bocelli, the crossover artist who renders pop ballads as gracefully as he does opera? His Italian pronunciation is absolutely one to aspire to!

Think about singing, on your way to work or in the shower, in accompaniment with singer, songwriter and composer Paolo Conte; such a fun way to learn this romance language!

Via Con Me, Un Gelato Al Limon, Come Di: all of these and more are online, just waiting for you to give them a listen.

Studies show that engaging in diverse learning methods and having fun while learning increases the absorption of materials and provides more opportunity to practise recently reviewed materials.

What are you waiting for? Andare! Go!

Until Your Next Lesson…

It might be a bit asinine to repeat what your parents and teachers have long been telling you: revise between lessons.

That being the most effective way to retain vocab and grammatical constructions, we echo their edict.

For good reason: for all of you who wish to throw yourselves into a new language, you cannot afford to go a single day without speaking and listening to Italian.

Movies, music, books and friends: all ways to steep yourself into your language lessons, until the next time that classes convene – or your tutoring resumes.

Until then, we say Ciao, caro!

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