Learning Italian or Any Other Language

Learning Italian Language

Learning Italian language or any other language is a great mental exercise, and it’s fun and, at times, charming to be able to speak a wonderful language such as Italian. To learn a language, one can either enroll oneself in a language course at a school or learn online.

At a beginner or intermediate level, there is no right or wrong way to learn—one can learn online as well as one does offline if they are persistent with their time and effort and have the right learning resources. At an advanced level of learning a language, it’s recommended to communicate in that language with natives or people who are fluent in it, which is better offline, but in this age of technology, is possible online, too.

In this article, I have charted out techniques and curated resources for learning to speak Italian. The learning structure and techniques, however, are applicable to learning any language. To simplify things, the process is divided into four levels with increasing scope of learning.

Learning Italian – Level 1

Recommended study time: 30-45 minutes per day, for 10 days

  1. Alphabet

It’s good to start learning a language the good old way—with the alphabet. Read them and listen to how they are pronounced. Do not spend much time on this at first; come back to it when you feel the need.

Where to learn

  1. Pronunciation

Luckily, Italian is a simple language to learn for English speakers, as a lot of words are very close to their English equivalents, and the pronunciations of words are also easy to follow. Here, you can start with understanding how the vowels and consonants should be pronounced in Italian.

Where to learn

Refer to the following links from Italianlanguageguide(dot)com:

  1. Basic vocabulary

Once you know how each letter is pronounced, start your journey to learn Italian, the most romantic language in the world, with its basic vocabulary. Begin with learning relation words like mom and dad, and with names of general objects around you, like how you learned our mother tongue.

Where to learn

Login on Quizlet (they also have a mobile app) and learn:

If you feel adventurous, explore this long list of names of objects, and phrases (313 words and phrases).

How to learn

  • Revise the names now and then. Make flash cards if you like.
  • Label objects around you, and say the names out loud when you use those objects.

Italian words

  • If you do not understand how to pronounce a word, go back to Point two and see how different letters are pronounced.
  1. Write and recall

Every day, write what you remember. Revisit the things you do not remember. Close your eyes, and try to remember the words you learned. This exercise helps gradually ingrain what you learn in your permanent memory.

Recalling what you have learnt is one of the techniques taught in the famous Coursera course called Learning How to Learn – Train Your Mental Muscles to Learn Anything. In the course, Dr. Barbara Oakley teachers the power of mental revision to learn better. You can check out this course to have an open mind while learning.

Learning Italian language has no one formula. Everybody learns at their own pace, so I am not defining how many days you need to spend on Level 1, but do spend at least 30-45 minutes every day with learning and revising. In about 10-12 days you will be able to grasp the Italian words for most of the things you use every day.

Learning Italian Language

Note: There is no right order to learning a language. However, I recommend that you move from one point to the next, as given in this article, but how you want to learn Italian is totally up to your learning style. You can even mix and match various lessons from different levels if it helps you learn better and faster. The key is to have an open mind while learning, as you’re treading new territories with a new languagelet it surprise you and teach you things you didn’t know. Also be persistent. If you get bored, skip a day or two, or watch an Italian movie, to stay in touch, and then get back to learning!

(We are not affiliated with the websites and apps recommended in this article. These are resources I found the most useful in learning Italian.)

Learning Italian – Level 2

Recommended study time: 45 minutes per day, for 20 days

  1. Italian grammar

Learning Italian grammar using flashcards is effective and convenient. It makes revision easier, and you will need to refer to the cards even when you move on to Levels 2, 3 and 4 of learning the language. In this level, we will learn only the basics of Italian grammar.

Where to learn:

  1. Learning to speak everyday phrases and sentences

This is the most fun part of the whole process, where you put together words to speak actual, coherent sentences. I enjoyed this section the most because it gave me confidence about the language.

Where to learn:

Download ‘Learn Italian’ app by Codegent (available for both Android and iOS devices).

This is the first App I downloaded after learning Italian alphabet and letter pronunciations. It has text and audio translations for various categories of words and sentences. The categories are very well-organised—General conversation, greetings, transportation, eating out, directions & places, emergency, numbers, etc. There are total 22 categories (out of which 7 are free, and 15 are paid). Each category has text and audio translations of various words, phrases and sentences that one uses in everyday conversation.

How to learn:

  • Memorize the sentences, and then recall them mentally in different scenarios. To use or remember what you learnt in different contexts is the best way to ensure that you retain it. This technique of learning is used across disciplines to learn languages, music, coding, etc.
  • Write the sentences you can remember.
  • Revisit the sentences that you do not remember. In the app, you can mark the sentences you’d like to revisit as favourites (using the heart icon), and then revisit the favourite list for revision.
  • Once in awhile, pay attention to how these simple sentences have been constructed. See how conjunctions, prepositions, article, nouns, pronouns and verbs are put together in a sentence.
  1. Italian hand gestures

    Italian hand gestures

We Italians like to say that a gesture is more valuable than a thousand words.” – (CNN)

It’s an absolute joy to use hand gestures like Italians do, to accentuate what you say. Learn these to get into the Italian vibe.

Italians use over 250 hand gestures in their everyday conversation. – (2013; NYTimes, Italian Hand Gestures: A Short History)

Where to learn: Italian hand gesture guide from CNN Travel

  1. Advanced  vocabulary

Widen your Italian vocabulary using the following list. You do not have to learn all of it together. Learn what you can, write and recall for memorising, and move on to the next level. Do come back to this list now and then, as learning something over a period of time, in different environments helps one learn better.

Where to learn: Italian words and phrases from Quizlet

  1. Write and recall

Daily, write and practice what you learnt, for 15 minutes. Recall lessons for better retention.

Spend 30-45 minutes a day, for 20-30 days on this level.

I hope you find these techniques and resources useful. Be persistent with your lessons, but remember to have fun while learning. Try speaking Italian words and phrases with friends who know the language, if that’s possible, or find an online friend to practice with.

I recently found this app called Mondly. It has a chatbot that converses with the user on pre-defined topics like greetings, restaurant, and hotel. The chatbot says a sentence, and gives you options to reply with. It uses speech recognition to recognise your reply, and if your reply is correct, it moves further in with the conversation.

(We are not affiliated with the websites and apps recommended in this article. These are resources I found the most useful in learning Italian.)

We will cover Levels 3 and 4 in the next article. Following is a preview of what lies ahead in ‘Learning Italian Language or any other language’ series of articles.

What lies ahead:

Learning Italian – Level 3

  • Advanced Grammar
  • Making sentences
  • Listen to songs
  • Write and practice

Learning Italian – Level 4

  • Watch movies: How to (or not to) watch movies to learn a language
  • Write a diary and letters.
  • Communicate in Italian: How to read others’ body language to improve your speaking skills

See you later, fellow learners!

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