Whether you’re just thinking of leaning the Italian language or you already know it well enough, it doesn’t matter. In this article, you will find some useful information and proven tips about learning Italian. So let’s dive in and see what the easiest way to learn Italian is!
Don’t be afraid!
The first and most important step to take is not to be afraid. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and pronounce a word incorrectly. It is also normal to confuse the tense or form of a verb, stress, or forget the articles. There is no language in the world which can be learned without going through the stage of tongue-tied language, incorrect pronunciation and making many mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the Italians themselves! Fortunately, native-speakers are quite sharp-witted and will immediately understand what you want to say. The Italians will always help you by promptly suggesting the right word or correcting you. So there’s nothing to be afraid of!
Begin with the grammar
It is very important to first study the main grammar points and times. Many Italian language learners don’t want to study grammar, but want to start talking right away. In this way, they miss out or don’t learn properly the 3 main tenses in Italian: the past, present and future. In fact, there are two points of view about it. A classical language school assumes first to study grammar, and then to start speaking practice. If a student follows this learning strategy, they first focus on grammatical forms and rules, and learn to write in Italian, almost making no mistakes. But in an ordinary conversation, it is difficult for them to express themselves and speak with ease. They slowly put words into phrases and fail to fully participate in the conversation.
According to another theory, you should first learn and memorize basic phrases in Italian, and operate with them, while building up vocabulary and learning more new phrases. The only disadvantage with this method is that it resembles a lot the typical phrasebook learning approach. You could always use the right phrases and say them correctly, but your interlocutor will answer you in Italian too. And it is unlikely that they will use the exact phrase you have memorized. So, without knowledge of grammatical structures, most likely, you will not understand them.
That’s why, both grammar and vocabulary are important for the effective learning of the Italian language. Fortunately, in Italian there are relatively a few grammar rule exceptions, so after learning the grammar it will be much easier for you to understand the language. The easiest way to learn Italian is when you listen to Italian speech, analyze it with the help of your grammar knowledge, and compose sentences by yourself while consolidating the gained knowledge.
On italki, you can learn online grammar and vocabulary with native Italian speakers. Our Italian teachers are experts in tailoring classes to match your current level and learning goals, whether they are personal or professional. Studying with a private language teacher is surely the easiest way to learn Italian effectively.
Open your mouth
The articulation in English differs from Italian. While in English we can speak only slightly moving our lips and barely opening our mouth, this will not work with Italian. It is impossible to speak Italian correctly and clearly if you swallow endings, pronounce vowels incorrectly (especially unstressed ones), or mumble to yourself! You simply will not be heard and certainly will not be understood. Get used to the clear and “full” pronunciation of each sound. Do exercises for the muscles of the mouth, lips and cheeks, and don’t be afraid to exaggerate your pronunciation while learning new words.
It seems to be a stereotype, but it does not cease to be true: gestures are an integral part of everyday communication of Italians. Therefore, in addition to the Italian language itself, you will have to learn another language – Italian sign language. Its knowledge will greatly simplify your communication in Italian. Even if you make mistakes in the structure of the sentence or if you inaccurately pronounce words, the right gesture will help you to more accurately convey your attitude to the situation, emotion or intention. In other words, Italians will understand you better if you use gestures. That’s why this is probably the most effortless and easiest way to learn Italian, even though it’s not directly related to learning the language.
As you memorize words, pay attention to the stress – there are many words in Italian where only the change of stress changes the meaning of the word! Moreover, in Italian, there are two types of stress, which differ in the oblique “stick” letter (stress grave and acuto). Acuto means a closed sound (as in the word perché), and grave means an open sound (as in the word città). Sometimes the choice of one of these stresses also changes the meaning of the word: for example, chiése is one of the past tenses of the verb chiedere (to ask), and chièse is the plural of the word “church”, that is, “churches”. And the difference is just the tilt of the stress!
Double consonants must be double
This is another trap for foreign students, especially for those in whose native language double consonants can be read as single consonants. In Italian, all double consonants must be pronounced carefully. Even if you’re lazy or if you think that such pronunciation seems ridiculous. But this rule is really important, otherwise the meaning of the word can change fundamentally. You don’t want the thirst (sete) to turn into the number 7 (sette), or polo, the sport (polo), into the chicken (pollo)!
As you can see from the examples above, the double consonants are not difficult, so mastering their pronunciation is one of the easiest ways to learn Italian.
Always pronounce vowels as written
This is one of the most inconvenient phonetic rules: all vowels in Italian must be pronounced only as they are written. Even unstressed vowels are pronounced only as they are written: “o” is always “o”, and “e” is only “e”. An indistinct sound in Italian completely changes the meaning of the word!
And the sound “o” at the end of a word, pronounced as “a”, generally makes the masculine gender – feminine. So be careful to avoid incidents! Nonno (grandfather) cannot transform into nonna (grandmother), and an Italian (italiano) is unlikely to want to be called italiana (Italian). Be especially careful with vowels at the end of a word! We are used to “swallow” them or pronounce them indistinctly: with Italian it’s impossible, you need to clearly and confidently pronounce the final letter!
And if you want to praise an Italian woman, then you need to say “brava” (skillful, skillful, well done, in one word), and not the asexual “bravo” we are used to! But the man is only “bravo”. Learning the right pronunciation of the vowels and the double consonants is the easiest way to learn Italian well.
Travel to Italy and study!
Most people who learn Italian love the Italian culture, country, nature, language and traditions. And they go to Italy whenever possible, even for a few days or, if possible, weeks. In addition to a great vacation with sea views and cultural beauty, you can spoil yourself with at least one week of an intensive Italian language course in one of the many language schools in Italy. There is no age limit: most schools were created for students aged 18 and over!
The optimal and recommended duration of a language course in Italy is from 4 weeks to 2 months. This is the period for which you can evaluate and feel a significant breakthrough! Learning Italian in Italy is exciting, and it is considered the easiest way to learn Italian.
Let the computer, radio and TV speak Italian!
Train yourself to listen to live Italian speech every day. In the modern world, in the era of the Internet, it is as easy as shelling pears: just find Italian channels and radio stations. Don’t be afraid that at first you will not understand anything, only individual words. Gradually, the sound of the language will become familiar to you, and soon you will begin to highlight phrases, recognize intonations and feel the tone of the voice. Watch news, TV series and children’s cartoons in Italian, and even advertisements: all this will move you towards your goal!
You can install programs and applications in Italian on your computer and phone: at first it is difficult and incomprehensible, but gradually you will get used to it!