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Learning the Language..

I'll be in Italy for three weeks! I would love to learn as much Italian as I can...can anyone recommend language learning software? I'd like to go much deeper than just knowing "where is the bathroom?"...:) Thank you....

Posted by
683 posts

Much depends on how much time you have. Italian is a very easy language. It is pronounced as it appears, unlike English. Learn pronunciation first. Vowels are ah,eh, ee, oh, ooh. We'd suggest visiting BBC languages site first and using their excellent resource. It is very important to learn simple questions and answers like "Where is the bathroom?", as they help with the words necessary to build bigger sentences. Also remember this-- saying "bene" or "molto bene" and liberal use of "grazie" , goes a long way!!!!

Posted by
11484 posts

BBC Steps is an excellent start. If you have time, a community college "Italian for Travelers" class will help. I also like the Pimsleur CDs and can highly recommend "My Daily Phrase Italian, a podcast you can download. Rick Steves Italian phrasebook uis relly very well done, too. Pick up a copy and pack it along.

Posted by
798 posts

I'd suggest that you start by visiting your local library and checking out whichever programs look interesting to you. Learning a language can be a sort of personal thing; not everyone learns things the same way. I've taken community college courses, purchased books for my own study, and listened several different courses. That combination works best for me - I like to understand the grammar and spelling, so I like the visual learning methods. But to reinforce pronunciation and general conversation, CDs are the best. I have done the Pimsleur method, but in conjunction with knowing the grammar, etc. I wouldn't like learning Pimsleur only, because it introduces concepts aurally, without explaining them.

Posted by
1018 posts

I started ith Passport Book's "Just Listen and Learn Italian." The kit contained a book with lessons and a cd or 3 tapes which correspond with the book. Later I used Pimsluer' series 2 and 3. Now I speak Italian very well and I spend a month there every summer. Being able to converse in Italian will go a long way to enhance your travel experience and make new friends. Buon viaggio,

Posted by
16874 posts

We did very well with the Oxford "Take off in Italian" mini-course I bought from Amazon for about $30. CD's and a small book, pretty fast-paced. We listened to the CD's on the way to and from work every day for a few months. By the time we got to Italy, we could understand just about everything either spoken or written, and could speak pretty well, although not fluently. It helps if you already know a bit of Spanish or French, but Italian is easier than those languages, particularly the pronumciation.

Posted by
1449 posts

I suggest you start by getting the Pimsleur program from your local library (too expensive to buy). They are painless 30 minute lessons; the instructions say to do 1 lesson once per day, but I found I got more out of it doing the same lesson twice per day. There are 90 lessons altogether, but I'd say just go up to lesson 60 and then start on the Assimil program. Assimil goes too fast to start with no background, but after 60 Pimsleur lessons you'll be ready. Lastly, while I applaud your enthusiasm I'd caution you not to expect too much (depending on how much time you have to put into this). Even a 5-year old native speaker has a few years of intensive instruction under her/his belt, not something you're going to replicate with 100 hours of study. The State Department has schools for teaching languages to diplomats and others stationed overseas; for people that already know other languages they estimate it takes 600 class hours and and equal amount of practice outside class to reach what they term a "general level of proficiency". See http://web.archive.org/web/20080204023830/http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/november/learningExpectations.html One website I'd suggest to you is http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/default.asp You'll probably also get suggestions of taking a class at a local community college, but personally I found that the once-per-week meeting was not enough to make any progress. Best of luck to you! Post back how it turns out.

Posted by
571 posts

Ask around at libraries, bookstores, colleges, etc., if anyone is giving or would be willing to give lessons. In my case, we found a local travel bookstore that was offering a six week course in the shop after closing time. The instructor was the native Italian wife a local man and she was doing it more for fun than as a profession. Having a little Italian under your belt is an excellent way to make a connection to the locals. It was the best travel investment I ever made. For the record, my teacher used a small book and CD called Conversational Italian in 7 Days (author: Baldwin) that I highly recommend even if you're studying on your own.

Posted by
32265 posts

Tom, This question seems to come up every so often on the Helpline, and everyone seems to have a favourite method. In my case, I found that the Pimsleur language lessons worked best. Pimselur teaches on the basis of teaching words and phrases, with repetition in the following lessons (the same way that children learn to speak). Self-study lessons won't provide full fluency in the language, but they will provide enough that one can manage in most common situations (ie: ordering a meal, buying a train ticket or whatever). It's important to work on the lessons at least every day, or you'll start to forget. I've also taken a course at the local College, and hope to continue with that when the courses are offered again. Buona Fortuna!

Posted by
1530 posts

You might also check out Living Language which we got at our local bookstore. It comes with four CDs, a text, and a dictionary. We used this in addition to the RS Phrase Book (which we took with us).

Posted by
1003 posts

If you have the money, dedication, and time, I think Rosetta Stone is the best way to learn the language. But it is not geared towards traveling really.