In this day and age, with our ability to access information through various platforms, it is possibly easier than ever to learn a new language. By just taking a small step outside of our comfort zones and challenging ourselves to dip a toe into the pool of knowledge that surrounds us, it’ll be achieved quicker than in previous decades.
Learning a language is something that a large percentage of individuals aspire to do at some point in their lives. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to be able to freely converse with others from lands near and far? Lands which would open up so many different opportunities once crossing the language barriers.
If you are one of these people, someone who has a passion for both learning and languages, then hopefully this article will help you on your future endeavours or give you that little push to finally begin learning the language of another culture. If you work well in classroom based settings, there are hundreds of schools across the wonderful boot that is Italy, focused on nothing more than teaching the language. These language schools can be found in most, if not all major cities of the country. So if you fancy learning by the sea, or surrounded by historic monuments, or even with a view of the mountainous regions outside your window, you will not have to compromise. There are classes available in almost every desirable location.
If you have the time to be able to spend immersing yourself into the Italian culture, then go for it. Prices for Italian language schools rage from 800€ for one standard semester (a four week course) to 1300€ for an intensive course semester. Some language schools even provide accommodation for the duration of your studies (with an extra fee of course). Accommodation can range from sharing an apartment with fellow students, or staying with a host family (sometimes with meals included!). But even if your chosen school does not provide this service, with a bit of research you will be able to find a place to stay, usually for a similar price quoted directly from the schools themselves. Where there are schools, there are people willing to provide accommodation. It’s really not as hard or scary as it may seem. So, for a month long intensive language course, including accommodation, you’ll have to budget for around 2000€. Not too shabby, huh?
Now, if you are unable to stay for a long trip, instead deciding to learn as much as you can whilst on holiday, or if you are at the other end of the spectrum and are able to stay for as long as possible, there are many other tips and tricks to speeding up, but also enhancing your grasp of the Italian language.
1) Stick to cities and or coastal regions. Large cities are used to foreigners and so communication is much easier as you will always be within reach of someone who speaks English. This will enable you to interact with others and learn firsthand how to say certain phrases.
2) Try and engage in conversation with hotel/restaurant staff. If you need a fresh towel or want some basic information regarding a meal, try and ask in Italian. As long as you’re friendly and not asking when the establishment is busy, they will usually take a moment to help you perfect the phrase or questions you are asking.
3) Use online ‘locals’ apps to chat with people in the area. With more and more apps appearing in the various online app stores that enable you to chat with local people around you, it is easier than ever to learn the basics of a language. If you have time, download one of these apps to your phone and just chat freely with different people. You’ll learn informal chatty talk as well as potentially make friends in the process!
4) Don’t try to learn too much at once. It’ll only confuse you further. This one basically explains itself, you don’t want to overload your brain with too much information. Try to stick to small topics at a time, for example, learn how to tell the time, or phrases used whilst shopping. Split your learning into small categories.
5) Listen to language learning tapes or local music as you sleep. Although at the time of listening you may have no clue what the tapes are really saying to you, when the phrases come up in day to day conversations, you will be amazed at how much easier you’ll find yourself following alone. Your subconscious mind can hold a lot of information that you don’t know about.
6) Watch your favourite movies in English with Italian subtitles. And then when you’re feeling confident, watch in Italian, with English subtitles. When you’re familiar with the script of a movie and then visualise the Italian equivalent, it becomes much easier to pair the phrases. And who could possibly say no to watching movies in the name of learning?
7) Use translators and dictionaries when stuck. If you know the word or phrase you’re trying to say but not the correct pronunciation, show someone the translation and simply ask. Be sure to be as polite as possible and chances are they will be willing to help you out.
8) Don’t be afraid to be wrong a few times.