Oggi quando ho aperto la mia email ho trovato un messaggio da Erica che recentemente ha deciso di imparare l’italiano. Mi ha lasciato un messaggio suo blog (quanto mi piace ricevere messaggi dai lettori) in cui mi ha chiesto alcune domande come un principiante potrebbe imparare la lingua. Prima, ho preparato il mio caffè e mi sono seduta davanti al computer per risponderle direttamente, ma poi mi sono accorta che quello che voleva dirle domande potrebbe essere utile per le altre persone che hanno inziato recentemente l’apprendimento della lingua. Quindi, volevo condividere la sua lettera con tutti voi con le mie risposte.
Today when I open my email I found a message from Erica who recently decided to learn Italian. She left me a message on the Matta blog (it always makes my day when I receive messages from readers 😉 ) in which she asked me some questions about how a beginning student can learn the language. First, I prepared my coffee and sat down in front of the computer to answer her directly, but then I realized what I wanted to say to her could also be helpful to others who have just begun learning Italian. So, I wanted to share her letter with all of you and my responses.
I am finding this site at just the right time! I am a true beginner, attempting to learn Italian at age 46. I am about 2 months in and have tried a mix of apps, flashcards, booklets, videos, etc, and, most recently, an Italian tutor through Skype. To get a basic “jump start” and a little confidence, what do you suggest? I feel somewhat overwhelmed by the options! Listening to videos and reading the newspaper is frequently frustrating as I can not understand so much. I would LOVE to do an immersion course.
Grazie mille!!!! You are an inspiration
Cara Erica, Sono contenta di sentirti! Benvenuta alla lingua italiana! I am very happy to hear from you and receive your message. Welcome to the Italian language!
First of all, if you are a very beginner – just remember learning Italian is a journey and you need to enjoy the trip and not be focused on the destination. Love the little steps it takes to move you forward along the path to fluency. As an adult learner, it is frustrating to pick up a new language because you want to use your new language in the same way you use English at the age of 46. But, you are beginning as a child learns the language – making associations and memorizing a lot of new material. Children pick up the language gradually and use it in simple ways too at the start, so that is what you must do as well.
So start with building your vocabulary, using memes and picture associations to help memory recall. Read children’s books. Simple things that you are familiar with. At this stage don’t be embarrassed to read Richard Scarry books in Italian! You can learn some great words and expressions!
Here is a blog post I wrote about language learning at any age: For the kid in all of us! And how to live to be 100.
You also might start with the book my friend Alessandra Pasqui has written – Come hai detto che ti chiami? – featured in the blog post I wrote today.
The main thing is to be consistent.
Do something to improve your language skills every single day and it will move you that much closer to Italy!
When I started out at first I primarily concentrated on grammar and vocabulary. I did grammar exercises as I did crossword puzzles. I made grammar into fun games of challenge – working out the answers and then checking the back of books like Edoardo Lebano’s Italian Self-Teaching Guide. I was obsessed and spent hours and hours listening to grammar tapes like “Learn in Your Car Italian” by Penton Overseas to figure out how the verbs changed depending on the tenses. These resources can all be found on my learning tip recommendations page.
I think it is quite possible to create an immersion program at home…try to surround yourself with Italian beyond just a half-hour a day. Listen to Italian radio stations (there are lots – like RaiPlay Radio 2 o LatteMiele on the Internet…or Italian CDs – you can find a long list of my favorite Italian singers on the page where I list posts by category here – just scroll down to Musica. Even if you don’t understand what the announcer is saying between songs or the publicity ads – just hearing the rhythm of the announcer’s voice and his intonations are helpful. The same goes for watching movies in Italian. Don’t worry about catching every word and phrase, listen without subtitles to train your ear to the sounds of the language. If you are going to use subtitles use Italian subtitles (for the audio impaired) so that you focus on the Italian words and not the English words. Again you can find a long list of great Italian movies on the Matta Blog Page where I list posts by category.
There are so many things you can do to enhance your Italian language skills that are available through the internet. If something isn’t working, or something becomes boring, change things up and try something new. Write me again and ask me what you want to work on specifically and I’ll be glad to give you something new to focus on!
Also, a language is interactive – so do find a language group or a language partner to use your language. When you are laughing and having fun, even if you are making mistakes – that is the best part of all! The rest will come…gradually…but it will come.
But the main thing, no matter what every day:
1) Say something in Italian (even if you are talking to your dog!),
2) read something in Italian,
3) write something in Italian,
4) Listen to something in Italian,
5) Learn at least five new words in Italian.
Be brave! You can do it! And have fun in the process.
p.s. I would love for you to join me on one of my immersion trips. We have so much fun together. You have no idea how amazing it is when you can speak and converse with Italians in Italy – even if you are just a beginning student. I help to introduce you to friends and take you places you never thought would be possible and you will see things normal tourists never see. The programs are open to very beginning students – who have a positive attitude and are ready to dive in and improve their skills – to more advanced students who never really get a chance to practice at home.
Next year programs will be in Arezzo in June (9-23) and Montepulciano in September (14-28). There is a possibility of a third program in October – still to be announced. More information about those programs will be published soon…but in the meantime, I am taking early bird signups!
Enjoy your journey! Un abbraccio! Melissa
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