We can all agree, learning a foreign language in today’s world is always a good idea: it can expand your horizons (both physical and mental), give you a new set of hobbies and enhance your professional profile.
If you’ve picked Italian, congratulazioni! You will not regret it, especially if you follow our tips to make the best of the time you dedicate to language-learning.
Whether you decided to learn Italian to chat with your Italian friends over a cappuccino or to start a business venture in our beautiful boot-shaped country, you are probably looking for the best and most efficient way to learn one of the most beautiful languages in the world, and to put it into practice!
In this article, we will look at the best way to learn Italian with tips, strategies and resources from someone who’s already learned a few foreign languages.
Well, sorry to be so direct, but… Of course not!
The answer is much better, though: there are many best ways to learn Italian, and you can pick one or, even smarter, combine them all.
Here, let’s start from the beginning…
Those who have tried will know: language learning is a never-ending process. However, one thing is for sure: you need to start somewhere.
In my humble opinion, one of the first and essential aspects of studying any language is motivation, not grammar, speaking or studying vocabulary (which are of course important, but will not get done without motivation!)
First of all, try to set your intentions and goals: why are you learning Italian? What would you like to be able to do with it? And by when?
Having a goal in mind, even if it is just ordering pizza in Italian at my local pizzeria, is a strong tool and will give you that extra push to “do your homework” when you’re feeling low. Once you have your intentions and goals clear, it will be much easier to find the time and willpower to do those grammar drills or learn verb declension and prepositions.
Make a mental list of the benefits speaking the language will give you and keep them in mind when you study.
Many learners find that making a commitment is a great way to stick to a sort of learning schedule. It is enough to say “I will dedicate 20 minutes a day to studying Italian.”
You can make this commitment just with yourself, but also make it public, with your family or on social media… Maybe you will inspire someone to study with you, and having a language buddy is always a plus!
Adding small challenges to your learning routine can also make things more entertaining, and it might give you some extra motivation. Try setting some weekly goals, for example “I want to learn to use 10-15 new words this week” and, of course… try to stick to them! You can test yourself (or ask a fellow student to test each other) at the end of the week to keep track of your progress. If the test goes well, give yourself a reward!
However, take it easy on yourself and remember you’re only human. Learning a foreign language is no easy feat; keep a good balance between the challenges and the rewards!
Soon, you will discover that motivation goes hand in hand with a positive attitude, and here we get to the next tip: keep your spirits up and make your language-learning journey pleasant!
Studying doesn’t have to be boring, especially if we’re talking about learning a foreign language!
Nowadays, with the Internet and all the technology at your disposal, having fun is not hard at all. Sure, you will need to dedicate some time to grammar and vocabulary, but also watching an Italian movie can count as study time, or listening to Italian music or stand-up comedy.
There are infinite resources available out there to make studying fun, including games, interactive lessons, quizzes and podcasts…
You like cooking? Find Italian recipes and get experimenting. You like scrolling through Instagram photos? Find and follow Italian profiles. You’re into sports? Watch your favorite matches with Italian commentators. Just get creative with your learning, and don’t forget to make new friends (online or in real life) who speak Italian. Then, even going out for drinks will count as study time!
The most important thing is not to look at language learning as a duty. Don’t feel like it’s something you’re forced to do (even if by your own self!). Instead, try to make it become a hobby you love, a pleasant way to spend your time which is also an investment in your future.
If you, like many of us, have a busy life, try to make the Italian language and culture part of your daily life, even if not in strict terms of studying.
For example, you can try putting your phone settings in that language, stick some Italian flashcards in your house with the name of furniture and other items, watch news about Italy (in Italian or in your own language).
With time, you will find that introducing the language into your everyday life will make you more connected to it and this will mean that, in one way or another, your brain will be constantly learning without you even realising!
We all have different ways of learning, and it is essential to be perceptive of our own progress and choose the right tools to go with our innate abilities!
We all have different ways of learning. Some of us have a visual memory, others learn better from listening to native speakers or reading books. You may find you need to interact with a real human being to be fully focused or that you need to write down new words 3 times before you learn them.
The only rule is to make sure you dedicate some time to practicing all the essential language-learning skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
With time and experience, try to find out how your brain functions and concentrate on that, without forgetting to improve those that come less natural to you.
Here are some examples of resources you can use to learn Italian. Feel free to combine as many as you want, there is never too much learning!
Mobile and web-based apps have become extremely popular among language learners. Most of the apps available will help you with a foreign language in a fun and interactive way.
If you’re looking for an app to help you learn Italian, be sure to check out Clozemaster, which teaches you Italian through fast-paced exposure to thousands of Italian sentences.
Clozemaster gives you a sentence and asks you to fill in a missing word. This learning method is known as a cloze test, and is a great complement to other learning resources.
Online (and offline) language courses are probably one of the best options. When you are part of a group, you can ask questions and receive feedback, not to mention the great plus of having someone to practice with.
If you can afford it, private tutoring is also a great way to boost your learning. One-to-one lessons are immersive, and they will surely help loosen up your speaking skills.
In the entertainment sector, nowadays, the options are endless; even if you’re just a beginner and can barely understand a word of Italian, there are plenty of resources that will help you improve.
If you’re just starting out on your Italian journey, to avoid information overload, look for resources specifically designed for language learners.
This is probably the fastest way to learn Italian. Immersive learning can be exhausting for your brain, but that’s exactly the point. It will get so tired of not understanding that it will use all the energy available to learn!
Get a ticket to Italy, go out and put yourself in situations where you have to understand and speak Italian to survive!
Finding a language buddy is also a great way to learn and keep your motivation up. You can either find someone who’s learning Italian, or a native Italian speaker who wants to learn a language you’re fluent in, so as to start a language-exchange.
Whichever resources you choose, make sure you explore them in depth so that you can draw from them the maximum possible benefit.
Here I want to share tips for Italian students at all levels from my own language-learning experience:
- Baby steps: Want to Italian quickly? I am sure. However, when learning a foreign language, the magic word is… PATIENCE. Learning a foreign language requires time and exposure. The longer you dedicate to learning, the more natural and gratifying it will become.
- Don’t stress about grammar, but don’t forget about it either! Sometimes, words do not come out because you’re not sure about the grammar. My advice? Just flow with it, make mistakes, enjoy speaking the language. Then, go home and check the grammar.
- Write your “to-do” lists in Italian. This is a great way to memorize many useful words, such as “fare la spesa” (going grocery shopping). For an extra challenge, try using full sentences.
- Surf YouTube. Watch videos in Italian, whether they’re news, music or lasagne recipes. Extra challenge? Try transcribing what you hear and then speak along with the audio.
- Read aloud! Choose a familiar book or topic and read in Italian. But do not only read it in your mind… read them aloud! This works wonders to get comfortable with your own voice speaking another language.
- Build your vocabulary. Write down new words in a notebook. And flick through the pages once a day.
- Listen and repeat! Fill your ears and mind with Italian and repeat the words you hear, even if you don’t know what they mean!
- Observe and imitate. Whenever you see and hear native speakers, listen carefully and imitate them. Try mimicking their accent, gestures and intonation.
Yes, you will make them! We all do. So just enjoy it and don’t be afraid of speaking! If anything, ask people to correct you.
Mistakes are the best part of learning a language: as we say in Italy, sbagliando s’impara (making mistakes makes you learn)!