Lots of people trust blindly in the so-called total immersion method, meaning that you should be able to learn a language just by living in a country where the language is spoken. But this is a myth already debunked.
What is necessary to learn a language is spending enough time learning vocabulary, working with a teacher to learn grammar effectively and speaking with native speakers to practice the language and improve your learning of it.
In this way, you have the so-called total immersion effect even if you are not located in the country where the language is spoken. To reach your goals, you need both some materials and a learning program. Regarding the Italian language, these tips could help you to begin or improve your Italian.
1. Learn grammar and vocabulary
Although words are important, the best way to learn syntax is by reading and listening to sample sentences in the new language.
A vocabulary word that the student memorizes in an isolated way is easily forgotten because it doesn’t have enough connections to the relevant linguistic or abstract-meaning areas in the brain. In order to focus on sentences, you need a phrasebook. As beginners, you should check out sentences for basic conversations and how to introduce yourself.
Here some examples:
Saluti / Greetings:
Buongiorno/Salve: Hello (formal)
Ciao: Hello (informal)
Buonasera: Good evening
Come va? How are you?
Presentarsi / introducing yourself:
Mi chiam: My name is
Sono di: I’m from
Ho _____ anni: I am ___ years old
Studio l’italiano da ___ mesi/anni: I have been learning Italian for ___ months/years
Tips for improving your Italian:
Keep learning new sentences and grammatical structures every day. You can use certain websites to check out if you are improving your Italian by doing some exercises.
These are some sites which will help you to master different aspects of Italian grammar:
OneWorldItaliano -- You have grammar lessons which explain the rules and exercises to practice all the grammatical aspects of Italian (written in Italian).
CyberItalian -- This also has grammar lessons and exercises. The website is written in English for those of you who are not able to understand written Italian yet.
If you want to put money into your Italian learning, you can find some courses online:
FriendlyItalian -- This is an Italian course for beginners with an excellent quality/price ratio, and it’s taught by two Italian girls.
Assimil -- This one is from the Assimil family for those of you who don’t like grammar so much.
italki -- And of course, there are many professional Italian teachers on italki to choose from if, like most people, you learn most effectively with one-on-one attention and customized courses.
2. Read blogs
Share your hobby and interests with Italian people on their blogs. There are many people with whom you can write blogs, make comments and improve your reading comprehension at the same time:
Italyamonews -- Here you can find post on many topics, and you can even see the Italian level that is required to understand the post in its title.
ParliamoItaliano -- This is where you can find many readings divided according to the Italian level.
3. Work on it every day
First, you should keep in mind that it’s better to learn Italian 15 minutes every day than having a full immersion of six hours once a week. Many small steps will be more effective and, of course, the more you work on it, the faster you’ll progress.
Second, in order to make the most out of your learning experience, you should use the spaced repetition system (SRS). Now, what’s the SRS? It’s a system that helps you to learn and remember words and sentences by scheduling the review of flashcards you have learnt in order to put them in your long-term memory.
For this purpose, you can use:
Memrise -- The computer program is free, as well as the app. You can find free “courses” in many languages and follow them. They are called “courses” but actually they are flashcards. It’s very effective.
Quizlet -- You’ll find lots of flashcards already made by other users or you can create ones yourself. You have three ways of learning new words: flashcards, translation and matching. It’s both a computer program and an app.
4. Find a language exchange partner
While beginner materials will help you to learn vocabulary and structure, only listening to the language as it’s actually spoken will prepare you for the real Italian world. Stop thinking that “one day” you will be ready to speak Italian; that day is today.
It will be difficult the first times, but you will notice that speaking is the best way to improve your language skills. And, you will feel at ease in no time when you speak in Italian. Look for Italian people here on italki or in your city; it takes time to find a language exchange partner willing to keep talking to you in the long run, but you can start with a language teacher. It’s definitely worth it.
5. Use social networks
It is necessary to study the language that you learn daily. You can follow some Facebook pages on your mobile device to always be updated with new lessons and tips:
FriendlyItalian -- This page publishes grammar lessons, lists of vocabulary and colloquial expressions on a daily basis.
You can also find some free lessons on YouTube:
Learn Italian With Lucrezia -- This channel offers explanation about grammar and colloquial expressions, both in Italian and English.
I hope these resources get you off to a great start on the wonderful adventure of learning Italian!