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Why learn Italian on your own?
What are the main benefits of learning a new language without attending lessons?
First of all, learning in this way allows you to be flexible and learn whenever and wherever you want.
Also, learning a new language on your own can be cheaper than attending private courses.
Self-study can be less stressful than attending a class: you don’t have deadlines or assignments.
On the other side, you need to be very focused and know what you want to achieve.
Learning Italian on your own is possible only if you are committed and dedicate enough time to study.
Learn Italian on your own: is it hard?
Many people who want to start learning this beautiful language ask themselves: “Is it hard to learn?” “Will I make it?”
There is no general answer: it depends a lot on which languages you already speak.
Italian is very similar to Spanish and French. They all belong to the Romance languages family, a group of languages descended from Latin.
So, if you already know a bit of Spanish or French (or also Portuguese), learning Italian will be much easier.
English, however, is not very different from Romance languages, and you can still find some similar words and grammar constructions.
But that’s not all. The method and the resources you use can make learning Italian easier (or harder!).
Sometimes, it seems you’re not making any visible progress simply because you’re using the wrong method.
Be sure to pick a method that works for you and use reliable resources.
Learn Italian on your own: how to start?
A good starting point to learn Italian on your own is to ask yourself why you want to learn.
What are your goals, and what level of proficiency do you want to achieve?
Getting to a C2 level is very different from being able to have a conversation in Italian or knowing a bunch of words for traveling.
Once you have your “why”, you can choose your “how”.
The first essential requirement is to be committed to learning. For example, you can tell yourself “I will dedicate 20 minutes a day to learning Italian” or set up a weekly schedule.
Then, choose a topic on which you want to focus: you might want to expand your vocabulary, learn grammar rules, or improve your pronunciation and fluency.
According to what is your main focus, you can use different resources. However, some material is essential for every language learner.
How to learn Italian on your own: first steps
- Find a good online dictionary, which will become a reference point every time you want to know the meaning of a word or a sentence.
- Get a grammar bible. For many people, grammar can be boring, but knowing some Italian grammar can make wonders. Italian grammar can help you improve your spoken proficiency and bring it to an upper level.
- Download language-learning apps that you can use to practice your target language. These apps (like Duolingo) are practical and enjoyable; you can use them everywhere. It is a good way to keep up with practice on your way to work or on the bus.
Learn Italian on your own: motivation and method
Getting a good dictionary and playing with language-learning apps isn’t enough to learn Italian on your own.
To master any new language, you need two main things: motivation and method.
Being motivated to learn means that you know what you want to achieve (for example, “I want to speak Italian fluently“) and why (“I want to live in Italy“).
If you have a clear motivation, you will also find out what resources work for you.
Having a proper method means that you have a study routine that works for you and allows you to get constant improvement.
Otherwise, your progress will be much less visible (or not visible at all), and you’ll gradually lose motivation.
Motivation and method are the foundations on which you can build your language skills.
What do you need next? Well, there’s no secret: you need to practice with the right resources!
Learn Italian on your own: resources
What are the best resources for an Italian learner who has decided to not attend an Italian course?
As said before, a good dictionary and a grammar book are essential to have a reference during your study.
Thanks to the Internet, we have free access to lots of free resources to learn Italian (or any foreign language).
It sounds great, doesn’t it?
However, there’s a flip side: there’s too much information and you don’t know what to choose.
Don’t charge yourself with readings, ebooks, and videos from different sources. It can be confusing.
Instead, try to pick only a few selected resources and stick to them.
If you’re asking how you can choose the right resources, consider this: if you want to learn Italian on your own, you need to practice. One way to do so is by joining a community forum of Italian students where you can practice skills, solve doubts and receive feedback.
To do so, you need to focus on material that allows you to listen, read, and speak.
Let’s break down some of the most useful resources for Italian self-study.
Listening to the music is fun and allows you to relate the words to a melody.
What’s more, the music evokes emotions, and the human brain is wired to react to emotions.
You can listen to Italian songs and read the lyrics; try to translate them into your native language and understand the meaning of the words.
You will have fun and at the same time learn new Italian words and phrases.
Find some songs to learn Italian at this link.
Reading in Italian allows you to improve your language skills naturally and put what you learn in context.
Most of the time, textbooks can be boring. Instead, when you read something you enjoy, you forget that you are learning.
If what you read generates an emotional reaction in you, you’ll easily remember it.
You become so interested in the plot that you naturally absorb new words and phrases.
These stories are based on a situation that can happen during your stay in Italy (going to the doctor, booking a hotel, ordering food, etc.) and allow you to learn words and expressions that you can use in real life.
Learn more about Italian readings.
If you want to speak Italian fluently, you need to practice!
How can you do it if you don’t have any friend who speaks Italian?
Well, the best way would be of course to live in Italy and talk with local people. In this way, you can access new words and Italian phrases, idioms, and slang.
If you’re not lucky enough to live in the country, you can still practice speaking with the help of audio lessons.
“Ripeti con me!” is an intensive audio course where you listen and repeat.
It allows you directly think in Italian and absorb new words and sentences naturally.
It is also a great way to enhance your pronunciation by listening to and mimicking a native speaker.
How to structure your Italian self-study session
Learning Italian alone doesn’t mean not having a schedule or learning now and then.
If you want to have visible progress, you need to organize your study routine!
For example, you can combine the resources listed so far and divide your daily lesson into different parts:
- 20 minutes for an Italian reading: whether a book or a short story, read it aloud, translate it, and summarize it using your words;
- 20 minutes for an audio lesson: listen to it, read the transcript (if you have it) or write it down, and practice your pronunciation;
- 10 minutes to an Italian song: read the lyrics, translate them, and underline the unknown words. And sing the song if you want to make the learning process more enjoyable.
You can change the example above as you prefer.
Maybe one day you’d want to dedicate 10 minutes to grammar or to watch an educational video on YouTube. It’s totally fine; being flexible makes studying more enjoyable.
How long should an Italian self-study session be?
Of course, the longer, the better. But don’t have to overdo it: otherwise, it can become too stressful.
The best would be to dedicate at least half an hour a day to learning Italian.
Another helpful tip is to try to use the Italian language throughout the day: for example, you can write down the shopping list in Italian, watch Italian TV, or read the news in Italian.
Using a language for practical purposes makes learning much more immediate than knowing only the theory.
Learn Italian with the help of a coach
Learning Italian on your own doesn’t mean living in your bubble. If you want to improve, you need to receive feedback.
Having support is vital: you risk making the same mistakes over and over again if nobody corrects you. You can avoid this with the help of 1:1 coaching.
A coach is, in general, an experienced language teacher who shares tips and secrets to optimize the study.
A coach can clarify your doubts; you can ask questions and receive immediate feedback about your mistakes and your progress.
If you combine self-study with active coaching sessions, you will see a gradual improvement, and you will get rid of all the little or big mistakes you might make in language learning.
Learn more about 1:1 coaching.
How to learn Italian on your own: a wrap-up
- Learning Italian on your own is possible; it only takes the right method and the proper motivation.
- Be aware of your goals to keep your motivation high and give purpose to your progress.
- A good dictionary and a grammar book are the starting point for learning Italian, but they’re not enough. You need to combine them with other resources and active practice;
- You can practice your language skills through Italian music and readings to make learning more engaging.
- If you want to improve your speaking proficiency and Italian pronunciation, you can do it with the help of audio lessons.
- Try to schedule your lessons and have a routine: it will help your progress.
- 1:1 coaching helps you get rid of mistakes and receive constant feedback from native language experts.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun!
Learning Italian doesn’t have to be a burden but rather an enjoyable activity.
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