15 Best Tips for Learning Italian Quickly and Easily (On Your Own, And While Following Classes or Doing a Language Exchange)
I know. You are currently very busy with work, children, shopping, running errands, making time for friends, visiting family, etc., and we all want to know the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to learn Italian.
The big question for most of us: when do we have the time to sit down and study a language?
In this article, we will dive into valuable tips for learning Italian quickly and easily. We start with general advice and then progress to tips designed for people who follow language exchanges or a private/group language learning class.
1. Spend a Little Time on Your Studies Every Day
First and before all, you have to spend every week studying Italian, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. My advice to learn vocabulary is very simple:
2. Set Goals on a Daily, Weekly and Monthly Basis.
Every Sunday, I sit down and go over what I have to finish coming next week, and what I need to complete at the end of the month to achieve my goals.
Setting goals is an important part of language learning. It is something you should do, too.
Sit down once a week and determine where you want to be the following week.
Do you want to learn how to have a conversation about your favorite tv show? Or maybe you need to go to the doctor, and need to know how to explain to him what has been bothering you? Or perhaps, by the end of the month, you want to be able to write a bit about yourself at a deeper level.
When you set your weekly and monthly goals, do everything in your power to achieve them. Stick to them at all costs. When you reach your goals, make sure to reward yourself accordingly. The carrot on a stick works, people!
3. Learn Ten New Italian Words Each Morning
Every morning, think of ten (or more) words in your native language that you do not know yet in Italian, that could be of use to you, and write them in a notebook or your smartphone (my personal favorite).
Even before you take to your first cup of coffee, use a dictionary or the internet to discover the Italian translations of your chosen words.
These words are going to be your new vocabulary for the day. You have to repeat these new words all day long, so you can make them stick in your memory.
Take your notebook with you, in the car, in the bag, at your table, always have with you! Easy – and will only take you a few minutes a day.
Learning just ten new Italian words per day implies a sum of 70 new words per week.
Do not fret if you’re unsure you’re using your new vocabulary correctly; it’s about at least exposing yourself to new vocabulary.
4. Are You a Morning- or an Evening Person?
Each of us is a different person. What may work for one, may not work for the other. Do you perform better in the evenings or the mornings?
Decide for yourself when you are in a better mental state to learn Italian effortlessly, and determine the time that best fits you.
5. Find Your Personal Best Way to Learn Italian
Usually, kids learn their native language because they are surrounded by it, and have a substantial need to learn it. We call being surrounded by a language “immersion.”
Children live in a linguistic immersion environment and little by little, as the years progress, they learn different aspects and nuances of their native tongue.
They learn to read, write, hear and speak. Some things will be easier than others, but they are all rather important.
To learn Italian quickly and easily, think about how much it helped you to learn your language; Hearing, reading, writing and speaking. Try to remember which method was easier for you.
Personally, I picked up Italian because of subtitles on the TV and playing video games. That would be reading and hearing mostly.
For instance, if you found it easy to learn how to read at school, try to find easy books in Italian to read and increase your vocabulary, grammar, and understanding of the way the language works.
I recommend you invest in this Italian frequency dictionary, because it contains all the vocabulary you need, and Italian to English example sentences.
Or if you enjoyed grammar, look around the internet for grammar activities and word games.
Note: Rumor has it that people who enjoy learning grammar, actually exist. I have yet to meet them.
6.Watch Movies or Series and Listen to Music in Italian
Find the most opportunities to hear to the language you are learning.
If you happen to live in an area where they broadcast Italian-speaking radio or TV channels, tune in!
If you have to chores around the house, just leave the TV or radio on in the background. Even if you do not actively realize it, your brain is absorbing the language.
If you do not have access to radio or TV, the internet is your biggest friend. It is quite easy to watch a movie or TV-series as many times as you want, and especially so if it has subtitles.
Brotip: Action movies are usually less complicated in both storyline and vocabulary used, as compared to more intellectual movies or series.
Afterward, read a plot synopsis to check if you understood what happened in the story. If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even try to write a review about the movie in your target language.
Listening to Italian music, audiobooks or podcasts is also an excellent choice.
You can do it in your spare time, while doing chores, at the gym, while cooking or on the way to work.
It is OK if you do not understand everything that is being discussed.
Even if you do not follow all conversations, you will be exposed to Italian. Little by little and step by step, your ability to understand will develop further until you reach fluency.
Remember, yard by yard, life is hard. But inch by inch, everything’s a cinch.
7. Apps, E-books, and audio learning methods.
I adore my smartphone. I worship it. It is the Holy Grail that provides me to access all the knowledge in the world.
Yet still, I mostly use it to look at funny cat memes.
The fact remains that mobile technology gives us the opportunity to overcome “idle time” by changing “idle time” into “useful language learning time.”
In example: my smartphone gives me access to four to five productive hours a week. Or more, depending on how often I ride public transportation or am in the passenger’s seat.
With my smartphone, I can now do something useful while I wait for the bus, travel by subway, train or plane, or even when I drink my cuppa coffee after lunch.
If I have to wait about 15 minutes here and there between meetings, my smartphone makes it a whole lot easier for little ole’ me to accomplish my goals for the day, like learning ten new words or learning new vocabulary about BBQ-ing, without feeling overwhelmed.
In our seemingly always busy lives, there are many small time gaps. We can fill those with useful tasks, provided that the technology needed is portable and always accessible. Spare batteries for everyone!
And of course, a little bit of pure willpower is needed too. It’s always more enticing to open up Facebook and waste 5 minutes of your life than it is to do 5 minutes of productive foreign language studies.
(Darn you and your addictive app, Zuckerberg!)
8. Make Associations When Learning New Vocabulary
Don’t forget to make associations with words, by way of sound, smell, and visual images.
When you are learning vocabulary, associate the word with a picture in your head.
For instance, for ‘cat’ imagine a gorgeous fluffy cat meowing loudly.
When you think of coffee, visualize a cup of coffee being poured in the morning and the way the coffee scents. Omnomnom!
Progress from the simple to the more challenging. Although often it is a good idea to push yourself to your boundaries.
Trying to express something a bit more complicated will activate your brain more. You process more information and thus learn more.
9. Research Topics Before Each Italian Class.
Our following tip is to investigate the subject of your next online or in-person Italian class. Impress your teacher or language exchange partner by knowing related vocabulary. Or maybe you have found questions on the subject that you would like to ask them, or you may have found questions you want to ask.
Revisit your researched topic 10 minutes before you have class and prepare yourself mentally for Italian. Reading about the subject in advance helps you get ready for your class and allows you to express yourself better.
Of course, teachers are there to help you understand and practice with you, but dedicating a little time to preparing yourself will not do you any harm. It will help you become fluent faster.
10. Following a Group Class? Listen to What Others in the Class Are Saying.
During group class, some students tune out their fellow students, until it is their turn to speak.
That not a very good idea! Listen to what others say. First off, they may make the same mistakes as you, and both of you can learn from it when the teacher corrects them.
Secondly, it will get you used to different ways people can pronounce Italian. You have to get used to hearing it from people all over the world. A native Spaniard speaking Italian may sound completely different to an American speaking the same language.
Dialects can vary considerably from place to place. The more exposure you get to “botched” pronunciation, the better you will fare with understanding native speakers later in life.
11. Review Your Lessons and Revisit Your Notes After Each Class
At the end of your class or language exchange, do not forget to review any slides and vocabulary or re-read the notes to see the corrections.
If there are words you do not know, write them down and check them later.
The following days, try to review your newly learned vocabulary by writing down what you have learned during your experiences in class, or by talking to someone about the class in Italian.
12. Meet New Friends and Study Partners at Language Exchange Events
Not only a magnificent way to meet new friends and cultures, but also a marvelous opportunity to get out there and get some real practice with native speakers.
This may require you to get out of your comfort zone, but the results are well worth it.
Another valuable tip: resist the temptation to switch to a more common language, like your native tongue or English!
13. Change Language Exchange Partners or Teachers
Stuck in a rut? Your language learning life needs some spicing up?
Different accents can bring on a whole new dimension to language learning. In your life, you will probably meet people from all around the world.
Can you imagine speaking only with individuals from Milan or Rome?
Over time, students tend to get comfortable with certain teachers or accents. However, limiting yourself to a certain way of pronunciation and speech patterns may mean limiting your language proficiency in the future.
It is a good idea to change teachers or language exchange partners from time to time so that you can hear the difference in sounds in Italian around the Italian speaking parts of the world.
14. Practice an Hour a Week of Italian With Your Family or Friends.
If you have like-minded friends, this one is easy to pull off. Just get together and promise each other only to speak the language you’re trying to learn.
(I once found myself surrounded by 10 white guys only speaking Japanese to each other in a cafe in Rotterdam. Quite entertaining)
Or come to an understanding with your family so that the Sunday roast is your mutual Italian-speaking time. That means everyone will learn (some) Italian and benefit from your language classes.
15. Try To Think in Italian
Possibly the best advice to learn Italian is to think Italian. Switch your inner voice to Italian. It will be challenging at first, but it is a crucial step to real fluency.
Compel yourself to do so. That’s the tricky part: your brain will naturally want to think in your native language. Especially if you lack the vocabulary to express yourself on a wide variety of topics.
If you do not know how to say a word or verb, write it in the notebook or smartphone that you carry with you at all times, and look it up later. Carrying around a journal may seem a bit odd at first, but it will help you.
When learning the word, pronounce it out loud a few times. This helps you to get accustomed to the sound of the word and helps it ingrain the new vocabulary in your memory.
Note: it may be better not to do this in public, we do not want anyone to think of you as the weird foreigner muttering to himself in the corner.
I hope you have found some of these tips to learn Italian useful. Follow these tips, apply them every day and learn Italian quickly. Any exposure to Italian, whether it is in your head, in class or looking up words in a frequency dictionary is beneficial and helps you gain fluency quickly.
And of course, get your copy of the Italian English Frequency Dictionary. It contains the 2500 most used Italian words, or about 95% of all Italian you need. Works great in combination with any classes or other methods.
Before we depart, do not forget to congratulate yourself on what you already have achieved. Do not focus on the road ahead, but on the travels instead.