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A Guide To Learning Conversational Italian
But what about those of us who want to learn more conversational Italian? Day to day life Italian phrases that would help you navigate your way around ordinary tasks and be able to join in with social circles and integrate more comfortably?
What about those of us who don’t enjoy the stoic classroom atmosphere and would prefer something more relaxed and fun?
Here are some ideas to learn and improve your conversational Italian without the pressure of exams or being stuck in a stuffy classroom.
Kill two birds with one stone by taking an Italian language and cooking class. Learn new skills in the kitchen with traditional and regional dishes whilst brushing up on Italian phrases, and learning all the names for the ingredients and utensils that you will use.
Check out classes at the Lucca Italian School or research similar options in an area near you.
Arts & Crafts Workshops
Try an Arts & Crafts workshop such as drawing, painting, pottery, glass decoration, furniture restoration, leatherwork or jewellery making in Italian. Not only will this challenge you to practice and improve your Italian, but there will be the visual aid of your teacher to follow along with, and you will learn a new skill to boot!
Try looking on the website for Istituto Il David if you are in the Florence area.
Local recreational activities
• Cinema - Go to showings at your local cinema and watch the latest releases.
• Radio - Take time to listen to local radio stations or perhaps download some podcasts to listen to such as “Caterpillar” or “I Provinciali” from Italy’s Radio 2. Go for easy listening type of programmes to familiarise yourself with the language first.
• Coffee mornings - Go to a local coffee bar, people watch, listen to the conversations and eventually build up the courage to join in with the locals.
• Theatre - Go to see a play at your local theatre.
Tip: Rather than listening to conversation in the background whilst doing other things, actively listen even if your comprehension skills are not very fluent. Take a notebook and make a list of words that you can pick out from the conversation (even if you are not sure of the correct spelling as you can look this up later and edit it if needs be), divide them into what you recognise and what you don’t. Research the meaning and consider the context. Repeat this often and see your list of understanding grow and your comprehension get better.
Immerse yourself in local culture and history
Check out your local library and museums to learn more about the regional history of your area or take a culture & language tour with a company like EFT (Education First Tours). You could also try some of the immersive courses at the Piccola Università Italiana recommended by one of our own members, Erynn Laurie. Erin has signed up for courses here because the times of the classes suit her lifestyle perfectly and they have plenty on offer, including “extra curricular activities such as excursions to Venice and Aquileia, guided tours of Trieste’s historical sites and movies in Italian.” She said that all the activities and teaching is in Italian and it is a “total immersive experience”.
Find somebody who would like to learn your mother tongue or improve their own language skills. Perhaps spend half the time talking in Italian and switch or agree different days to practice each language.
If you struggle to find somebody, you could try organising a meet-up via Meetup.com. Alternatively, you could sign up to a language exchange website where you can interact and practice your language skills via text, audio or visual tools.
Try websites such as Conversation Exchange or Speaky.
Find a local charity or sign up to a cultural exchange / voluntary website such as Workaway to help others in your spare time and practice your language skills. Workaway has a plethora of placements to chose from such as picking olives and staying with a local family in their farmhouse, to childcare or working on eco projects and with animals.
If you want to experience the local Italian way of life whilst getting to grips with the language, perhaps try a homestay based language course such as Euro Lingua’s courses, which are available all over the country.
Experts say that boardgames boost your brainpower and memory retention so try improving your vocabulary by playing well known board games such as Scrabble in Italian, or try doing crosswords and playing hangman. Apps such as Duolingo can also help you to grasp the basics of a language in a fun, accessible way.
Try a language course with a difference…
Incorporating a wine tasting and food tour is a fabulous way to learn the language at your leisure whilst enjoying yourself and learning about the regional cuisines and wines of Italy.
Look up the language schools in your area that organise food & wine tasting tours via this handy website.
Interact with locals
Try signing up to a website such as With Locals. Instead of paying for a class or a tourist orientated tour, sign up to a website like this and book interactions with a local. You can even do this in groups, such as “Learn Italian Hand Gestures Over Dinner with Paula”.
Language over lunch
Sign up for a one to one tutor and suggest a tuition session over lunch. Practice Italian conversation with your tutor in a relaxed setting, try ordering from the menu and indulge in some wonderful food while you’re there.
As synonymous with Italian culture as pasta, fashion is a passion at the heart of many a glamorous Italian city.
Explore your interest in the world of fashion whilst learning more about the language with a school such as the famous Scuola Leonardo da Vinci.
Use these ideas and take time to enjoy learning all about your new home, the people, the culture and the language.
What has your experience been of learning the Italian language? Have you tried any of our suggestions? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments!
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