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Many people are interested in learning the Italian language.
It is estimated that 60-65 million people in the EU speak this romance language as their first language.
Although Italian is not one of the most commonly spoken European languages, it is unquestionably one of the most attractive to learn.
When compared to languages like Spanish and French, Italian may not be as useful for business, but the benefits it provides for tourism and cultural immersion cannot be overestimated (and who wouldn’t want to live there?).
People frequently ask me what the best approach to begin learning Italian is.
Although, believe it or not, it is not a particularly challenging language for English speakers, it is frequently tough for new learners to know where to begin.
Why learn the Italian language?
The most common problem is that most people begin this language learning journey with the wrong motivation.
They glamorize the language and are motivated by a passing curiosity.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying Italian culture and language (far from it! ), but for most people, this will not be a long-term motivator.
We all rapidly lose interest.
Other things arrive and take main stage.
So here are some examples of motivators that have a much better probability of driving you to become fluent in Italian in the long run:
- Job requirement.
- Moving to Italy and having to live there.
- Getting married to an Italian.
- Educational/course needs
These motivators work because they are all driven by necessity.
When forced to learn, we do admirably. We have no other option.
Also, make it a point to let those close to you to hold you accountable.
This includes telling your partner, family, and friends that you are studying Italian and taking Italian classes.
By being public in this way, you’ll put healthy pressure on yourself to keep going, and people will keep reminding you of your purpose.
The best Italian learning resources and tools
The sheer volume of Italian language resources overwhelms most beginning learners.
There are a lot of Italian language courses, books, and products to pick from in this market.
It can be stressful.
“Which resources are the best, and which will work best for my learning style?”
I often advise that before you start learning Italian, you should have a good idea of what’s accessible.
Allow yourself some time to research products, read reviews, and make a shopping list for yourself.
Always prioritize quality above quantity.
You can go out and buy a half-dozen of lousy books about Italian alphabet, Italian verbs etc., but they will not benefit you any more than an excellent one.
The same goes for what online language course or Italian language school you choose.
It’s going to depend on what works the best for you.
Make a basic, categorized list of the resources you discover so you can refer to it later.
It’s a good idea to categorize these materials according to the language skills they focus on — Italian pronunciation, listening skill, Italian vocabulary, and so on.
You simply need to give yourself some time to investigate Italian resources before diving in.
It’ll pay off big time later.
Forget about how to learn Italian grammar
“How am I supposed to learn Italian if I don’t study Italian grammar?”
What if I told you that we’ve been teaching grammatical rules first for decades and have been doing it all wrong?
Nobody learns their first language by remembering grammar rules anywhere in the world.
We learn our first language through space repetition of language “bits” – we listen to our parents and others say things to us over and over until they become second nature.
We hear patterns thousands of times every day and absorb them without even realizing it.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive to say “don’t learn grammar,” but this is why language education continues to fail.
Many people begin learning a language (grammar first) and quickly fail.
For years, I’ve been teaching people all around the world how to speak a foreign language, and this has always been the most contested argument I make.
The study of grammar rules in order to communicate is a completely artificial, robotic method of learning.
It is something that most people despise.
It’s crucial that languages are thought of as basic components rather than rules.
When you learned your native language, you were able to speak before learning grammar.
Grammar is something we learn in school to help us improve our language skills (reading and writing).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s vital, but it’s not essential for spoken Italian conversation.
Without learning grammar, I’ve learn to speak various languages fluently. I just had lots of repetition of phrases and colloquial expressions.
And guess what?
Having to learn a new language like this is more fun. It is both more practical and more effective.
The wonderful thing about grammar is that it gradually begins to make sense on its own. As you practice the language, you’ll begin to notice patterns.
For this reasons I recommend my online Italian course Ripeti con me.
Can you learn the Italian language yourself?
Nowadays, it is quite common for people to want to learn a foreign language during their spare time, and often this means learning on one’s own, at home, or on the train on the way to work.
Do not worry, self-studying the Italian language is easier than you might imagine. The important thing is not to get overwhelmed and to take one step at a time.
Study Italian on your own
First of all, you need to make a commitment. This is the most basic and most important aspect of starting to learn anything new.
Unlike with a group course or one-to-one tutoring classes, if you decide to learn Italian on your own, you will be on your own! This means that there will be no set times to study, and no one to tell you what to practice and to tell you off when you don’t.
This kind of studying requires a high level of commitment and motivation, so make sure you keep your spirits high and have some good reasons to start learning this beautiful language.
My advice is: decide how much time you can commit to learning Italian, and stick to it… and try to be realistic!
Can I teach myself Italian?
Traditional classroom training and language immersion will always be excellent ways of learning a new language, but is it hard to teach yourself Italian? The answer is: not at all!
Begin by spending at least 20 minutes per day studying Italian. You can try different ways to see what works best for you.
Here are a few of my favorite tips if you want to teach yourself Italian.
Watch Italian movies or listen to Italian podcasts
Watching Italian movies is a fantastic approach to immerse yourself in the new language without having to leave your home.
When you watch movies or listen to Italian podcasts, you learn by context rather than just practice vocabulary and grammar.
Furthermore, when you learn Italian from podcasts and movies, you’re learning the Italian that real people speak, not simply what’s in textbooks.
If you’re a complete beginner, you can watch movies with English subtitles so that you can follow along.
Switch to watching with Italian subtitles to boost your listening comprehension if you already know some Italian or when you get more comfortable.
Play games to learn Italian.
If you’re an interactive learner, there are a multitude of apps and Italian learning games available online. You can even download any game and change the language to Italian while playing to learn words and phrases in context.
Read and write in Italian
Reading Italian stories and news is another excellent option to learn Italian on your own. It’s entirely up to you whether they’re Italian translations of stories you’ve already read in English or original Italian works of literature.
Try writing a summary of what you just read, in Italian of course, when you’ve finished reading something. This is a basic activity that allows you to put what you already know into practice while also reviewing what you learned while reading.
Use Italian learning apps
If you’re still wondering: “can I teach myself Italian?”, there are also countless apps available to assist you on this.
Download a handful and test them out to discover which ones you prefer and which ones work best for you.
During your morning commute or lunch break, get out your phone and start practicing.
Even if you only spend 10-15 minutes a day using an app to learn Italian, you can make progress!
The best resources for self-studying Italian
An essential aspect of learning Italian on your own is to find the best material and resources to study and practice.
A well-structured course and a mobile app can do wonders to help you cover all the topics you need and to practice what you’ve learned.
Usually, a mix of various resources is the best combination to learn quickly and to keep yourself motivated.
Use online resources and grammar posts, a good language app for practicing and revising vocabulary and grammar rules.
Make sure you watch Italian movies and news in your spare time, as well as listen to Italian music.
Learning a language is not just about vocabulary and rules, it is about immersing yourself in the culture and lifestyle of Italy and discovering new interests and passions along the way.
If you do it this way, you will surely not abandon what you set out for, and you will soon be ordering a cappuccino in Venice with your best Italian accent!
Remember to check out what is the best Italian language course here.
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!