Thank you for visiting this website, and I hope that together we can accelerate your understanding of the Italian language. And when I say “understanding,” I’m talking about more than just grammar rules and a list of vocabulary.
Yes, we’ll need to study those things, but we’re not going to stop there. We will also explore the evolution of the language and its interactions with Italian culture and history. This will give us a deeper awareness of why Italian exists in its current form, which will allow us to know more than we’ve actually studied.
What do I mean by this? Well, what I mean is that we will sometimes be able to figure things out based on patterns that we’ve learned instead of relying on the things that we’ve memorized outright.
At first, this will very much be a conscious process of deduction. But further down the road our brains will begin to do these “calculations” automatically. That’s why you’ll occasionally say something (correctly) that you didn’t even realize you knew. The truth is you didn’t know it until that very moment!
Make no mistake: it’s going to take a dedicated effort on your part. Buying a book (or CD or software program) is a great first step, but none of those things work unless you commit to using them on a daily basis. It sounds obvious, but the majority of people who purchase these products never really use them, or at least not to their potential. Don’t be one of those.
About Learning Italian
If I can give you one “magic tip” to help you along the way, it would be to make the decision to enjoy the process of language acquisition without focusing on the ultimate, long-term goal (to become fluent in Italian). It is a marathon, not a sprint, and it can be a satisfying journey if you view it that way.
Find the joy in the small daily victories and don’t worry too much if your overall progress is slower than you’d like. In fact, I’d say this is a philosophy that we could borrow from our Italian friends: slow down and enjoy.
I don’t believe that there’s any single “best” way to learn a foreign language. You must find the method that works best for you—but I feel that a good reference book is essential no matter what your preferred system of study.
Some might find watching Italian movies useful. Others benefit from the guided structure of a software program. Taking an Italian language class at the local community college. Chatting with Italian friends via the Internet is a great way to practice.
Indeed, a mix of all these exercises would probably be the best formula.
My Story of Learning Italian
You may ask why I feel qualified to write about how to “Talk Like an Italian” when I’m not a native speaker? An excellent and very fair question. But in fact, I would argue that having gone through the process of learning Italian as an adult myself, it actually makes me especially qualified to teach the topic to others in a similar situation.
There is something called “The Curse of Knowledge.” This is the “curse” that some experts (in this case, native speakers) have which makes it hard for them to impart their expertise to a person at the beginner level.
Having struggled through the various steps in the process myself, I believe that I’m more empathetic to the needs of an Italian learner than someone who grew up speaking the language naturally at home. I am therefore, perhaps, better able to explain things in a way that any beginner can understand, since I was in your shoes not so long ago.
Furthermore, I’ve lived in Italy for several years. I have studied Italian both at the university level and at private language schools in Italy.
And finally, I’m also a language teacher—an English teacher to Italians, which has given me further insight into the language learning process. I’ve witnessed this process from the reverse direction, which has given me a unique perspective as to the similarities and differences between the two languages.
Why Learn Italian?
So why is it important for you to learn a foreign language? After all, the whole world speaks English, right? Well, not everyone. And besides, how boring the world would be if we all spoke the same language, ate the same food, and thought the same way?
We experience the world through our language(s). In the words of William Gibson:
“Language is to the mind what light is to the eye.”William Gibson
Cultures define themselves through languages and a foreign language will grant you admission into another culture. You will have the ability to communicate and to exchange thoughts and ideas with people from different linguistic backgrounds, and therefore very different cultural perspectives than your own.
Without the ability to communicate effectively, you will never have the opportunity to really get to know them. According to another proverb:
“If you learn a new language, you gain a new soul.”
What are some other common motivations for learning a new language? General enrichment is a good enough reason. It has a positive effect on intellectual growth and promotes cognitive development. Studies have recently proven that bilingualism practiced on a daily basis helps to ward off dementia in later years.
Children who learn a second language while growing up have the ability to think in both languages. They will have an easier time reading and writing in school, as well as the ability to think “differently” from children who were taught only one language during their formative years.
Bilingual children will also have a better chance of learning several additional languages, even after they are grown. In other words, a child learning a second language during their early years will have a higher affinity for language acquisition in general than children who don’t. You would be doing your children a great service by encouraging them to learn a foreign language while they are growing up. Like musical education, languages enhance the development of a person’s overall intelligence.
Economics is another reason for learning a foreign language. Living in a world that is increasingly characterized by globalization and intercultural connections, language skills are becoming crucial for business communications. With knowledge of a foreign language, you will undoubtedly increase your job opportunities. In many careers, knowing a foreign language is a useful—if not required—asset.
What matters the most is that you have challenged yourself to do it. Bravi! So why learn Italian? Because it’s a beautiful language and a lot of fun to learn!
But whatever your motivation is, do not lose sight of that as you read, study, and practice.
In bocca al lupo!