Learning Italian would be a great move, for several reasons.
In spite of the recent prosecco debacle, Italy is among the top five destinations for holiday-making Britons.
In fact, Veneto – the region that produces the bubbly wine we love to drink is the second most popular locale for UK visitors.
Italy is an important economic partner to our country, consistently on the top ten list of both import and export destinations.
One of the best Italian exports that our country enjoys is people: Italian expatriates have declared Great Britain their number one destination for relocation.
Clearly, that indicates long-term, binding relations in which a romance language will be exchanged, right?
Finally: as though these reasons weren't enough, let us mention that adding a second language to your CV will certainly boost your chances at professional success.
If you are dreaming of Sardinia's sunny shores or Rome's timeless culture, engaging a tutor to help you learn Italian is the sensible solution: your Italian adventure awaits!
Luckily so, because studies have shown that, once a body settles on a course of action, s/he wants results as quickly as possible.
Learning from a private Italian language tutor is the way to achieve quality results, fast!
Whether your desire to study Italian stems from academic need, professional aspiration or the personal wish to speak the language of Dante Alighieri, we have all the hints, tips and suggestions you need.
Superprof has all of the tutors you need, too!
Are you ready? Andiamo!
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Learn the Important Italian Words First
Reflecting on learning our native language, we could surely recall key educational moments such as: conjugating verbs or diagramming sentences.
Those significant learning events covered material that was not just learned but ingrained, to the point that, for the rest of our lives, word order and proper verb tenses come to us with no conscious effort whatsoever.
Now that you have the privilege of choosing what to learn and the teacher to learn from, you might be dismayed that your Italian tutor will recommend the same learning techniques.
Throughout your language learning sessions, you will find that certain words tend to repeat, and thus can be placed on the list for quick absorption, permitting you to advance to everyday Italian conversation more rapidly.
Alain Leury, a leader in cognitive behaviour psychology, recognises that rote memorisation is essential to learning.
The elementary mechanism of learning is rote repetition. - A. Leury
Let us then follow this expert's advice to advance our Italian vocabulary!
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Building Italian Word Lists
Just as we did in school, so we shall learn to speak Italian: by making flashcards and/or composing a phrasebook that should include:
- Basic Italian words and phrases, such as: buonasera, arrivederci, grazi mille and a domani
- To introduce oneself: mi chiamo... (my name is...), sono britannico (I am British), piacere (pleased to meet you)
- Travel vocabulary: tornare indientro (round trip), un biglietto (a ticket, fare), la destinazione (the destination)
- Food-related words: la cusina (the kitchen), il forno (the oven) la tazza (the cup)
- Italian expressions of emotion: felicità (happiness), depresso (depression), scherzo (joking)
Your Italian words lists should correlate directly to the reason you are learning the language.
A footballer recruited to play for Serie A would not learn the same vocabulary as a scholar on ERASMUS – the student exchange study programme.
Take an Italian course online.
Likewise, the Italian phrases you learn is commensurate with your language ability.
Beginners could reasonably be expected to extend conversational greetings – Ciao! is a widely enough known Italian slang word, after all.
However, intermediate speakers of Italian should know enough about Italian culture to not greet seniors with anything other than buongiorno.
In learning a new language, consistency is key.
No matter if you've just completed your very first Italian lesson or have a fair degree of fluency, spending fifteen minutes per day learning new words is better than hitting the books once a week and cramming for two hours.
Your Italian teacher will surely clue you to this methodology in the course of your first lesson.
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Learning Italian Phonetic Characteristics
Any language learning specialist will tell you: upon deciding to take a language course, you implicitly agree to study its phonetics.
A vital aspect of language learning is listening to the spoken language.
Of course, you will gain exposure to spoken Italian because your teacher will speak Italian during your language courses.
That, in turn, will sharpen your listening skills.
To help you get started, we present a few basic rules for Italian phonetics:
- Stress is generally on the penultimate syllable: buon GIOr no, for example
- Spanish and Portuguese observe the same system of syllable stress
- Dipthongs – every vowel is pronounced: buon (good) is pronounced boo-won, for example
- The letter R is 'rolled' – again, as in Spanish speaking
- The letter Z is pronounced 'tz', as in grazie (thank you) gra tzee eh
- The letter C, when followed by a vowel, is pronounced 'ch', as in cielo (sky) chi e yo
As soon as you master these and other phonetic rules particular to speaking Italian, the second component to effective learning kicks in: listening.
Of course, native speakers of Italian pick up on these phonetic rules as a matter of course, just as you learned English phonetics rules while learning to speak, as a child.
There are several avenues to pursue for enhancing your capability to listen and understand Italian, outside of the classroom or private tutoring sessions.
- Watch Italian movies (without changing the soundtrack to English)
- Fellini's La Dolce Vita, Benigni's La Vita è Bella, Sorrentino's La Grande Bella de Sorrentina are all excellent artistic endeavours to tune you into the language of Dante.
- Listen to Italian radio
- thanks to the Internet, it is easy to access Talk Radio 24, or if you are more inclined to enjoy Italian music: Radio Cuore
- Download Italian songs (legally, please!)
- Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Zucchero... all internationally renown voices, but only the tip of the iceberg, where Italian singing talent is concerned
- Connect with Italian associations in your hometown (or on the Internet!)
- You can participate in Italian expat activities while still on British soil. Maybe you could even practise your newly-learned vocabulary!
It is quite unfortunate that our National Curriculum places so little emphasis on second language learning.
And, at that, it focuses mostly on the written word. The ability to speak a second language is not necessarily a requirement to pass Key Stage exams.
Employing a tutor to learn Italian speaking and drill in phonetics, you are increasing your chances of becoming truly bilingual.
If you look for Italian language courses London - or a city near you - you're sure to find a tutor to practise with!
Consolidating Mastered Words and Phrases
From your very first Italian lesson, you started on the path to mastery of this language.
Think of each word and grammar rule as a pavestone on the way to becoming fluent.
It would not do for your pavestones to be scattered, irretrievable or disconnected from each other.
A fundamental rule of language learning should be: to consolidate your acquired knowledge and forge connections to previously learned material before you put your textbooks away for the night.
Such a review would permit you to isolate language components that have not been made clear; that you need to question your teacher about.
It will also boost your confidence and assure your ongoing investment in your language studies.
Learning techniques like flashcards and vocabulary lists are great tools for this proposed nightly review.
Another good tool would be verb conjugation charts.
Here is a great tip: you could practice your oral Italian skills with a native speaker of la lingua, should you have one handy.
If not, why not immerse yourself into the culture by taking a cooking class?
Language and culture being intrinsic to each other, any cultural approach you take to learning Italian is bound to pay off!
Language Exchange: English for Italian, via Webcam or at Home
To develop competent language ability, one must practise... of course, especially at home between lessons.
Who will you practise with?
Short of taking a trip to Italy – and barring the aforementioned handy Italian in your midst, chances to speak Italian in Britain don't linger around every street corner.
However, there are people from Italia living in the UK, and quite possibly, they want to learn English from a native speaker.
Should that be the case, a language exchange programme would be ideal!
An abundance of mutual language learning websites and civic programs have cropped up over the last few years, meaning that all you need is a willingness to learn and dedication to the task in order to succeed – both at teaching and at learning.
Whether you are taking Italian lessons for the love of languages or because your career will take you down the Appian Way, how well you learn depends on:
- your daily study habits
- your tutor's competencies
- assessing your language level as well as your learning strengths and weaknesses
- regular usage of your spoken Italian skills
- immersing yourself into the culture as well as the language
Fallo e basta, caro!