General Question

Blackberry's avatar

What is the best way to learn the most Italian in a short time?

Asked by Blackberry (29341 points ) February 11th, 2011

I’m in the military, and I found out I’m going to be stationed in Italy (Yay!). I’ll be leaving this Summer. Should I use flash cards, audiobooks, those computer programs, or maybe a little of everything? I won’t stop studying once I’m there, of course. Also….How do Italians feel about handsome african americans lol?

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12 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

Try Live Mocha. They’ll pair you with an native speaking Italian. The more you can talk to someone who actually speaks the better.

Outside of that try your local library for software like Tell Me More or Rosetta Stone.

mattbrowne's avatar

Give up the idea of “in a short time”. Be a realist. It takes time. If you know Spanish it’ll go a bit faster, but it’s still quite a challenge.

peridot's avatar

Not sure, but keep your hands free while you’re conversing, or the natives’ll think you have a speech impediment. (I’m part Italian, so can make jokes… hehe)

Officially envious of your pending assignment, btw :)

Rarebear's avatar

Agree with Live Mocha. It’ll give you enough to get you by.

Nullo's avatar

Congratulations on your assignment! Whereabouts are you going? Gaeta?

I took Italian lessons for two or three years prior to moving there, and I hardly learned anything. Granted, they were kid’s classes. It was not until I found myself in an environment where people around me only spoke Italian, where I would get tutoring in Italian with books in Italian, that the teaching really stuck. And even then, I would memorize verb tables, and I never did outgrow my Italian-English dictionary.
I got a lot of practice with the more vernacular Italian from watching movies and tv, and reading comic books.
Never be shy about asking your conversation partner what he said. Make notes of things that you don’t understand. Make sure that you know what a word means before you use it – Italian has a couple of nasty surprises.

My preferred tools were verb tables (and a copy of the rules for when to use which tense) and the dictionary (a DeAgostini pocket dictionary – good for most occasions and available at most newsstands/bookstores), with a phrasebook for things like sentence structure.
Learn and use prepositions.

Beware that people will try to finish your sentences. It’s annoying (especially since they tend to guess incorrectly), but they mean well; try not to get too upset.

I expect that you’ll be about as well-received as the average tourist, more so if you’re earnest about learning and using Italian – they like that. And whatever their views of the States as a whole – you’ll probably hear something unflattering slung in your direction at some point – the people that you interact with regularly can and will distinguish you from your country of origin. Failing that, everybody likes money, and tourists (and base personnel) have money. If you want to avoid being ripped off, shop in places with fixed prices.

There is a decent chance that the average Italian might think that you’re from Africa – most blacks there are, though the attentive eye will notice that American blacks and African blacks tend to differ in overall appearance. English (or French) is fairly common amongst African immigrants (though they tend to have distinctive accents), so the impression might be hard to shake. Most African immigrants find themselves on the bottom rungs of the social ladder, but I don’t recall picking up on any sort of stigmas.

Blackberry's avatar

Thanks :) And I agree MattBrowne. I’m going to Naples; although I have been there before, I’m already partial to Roma :)

Nullo's avatar

@Blackberry Before I forget: Italian is the national language, and that’s what the schools teach. This is a relatively recent development and, outside of Central Italy (modern Italian is based on the Florentine dialect), a lot of people may be hard to understand. Naples in particular is home to one of the major Southern dialects. You might not be able to understand the older people, and the terms that you pick up might not be proper Italian.

bob_'s avatar

I studied Italian for a year before I spent my semester abroad in college there. I did okay (though the fact that Spanish is my native language helped).

Your best bet is to buy one of those cheap books to learn the basics, and perhaps another one to help with the vocabulary.

In bocca al lupo!

Bun's avatar

I’ll second LiveMocha.

If you’re a flash card person, see if you can get this software called Rapid Rote. Try to immerse yourself and make it fun.

Don’t know what branch you’re in, but I believe the Army provides free Rosetta Stone.

lemming's avatar

The internet is great for learning a language, check out Yabla.com, Besuu.com and LinQ-the future of language learning.

Do a bit of almost everything everyday, try to do a half an hour of grammar each day, and at leased one new verb per day, and new vocab., and then some audio, reading, writing and hopefully speaking too every day.

I have a little note pad for my new french vocab and constantly go over it, I find I really learn the words that way, when you’re a bit more advanced you would have a seperate notepad for phrases you come accross. Make sure you keep on top of the gender of the words too, but don’t get bogged down with it, because it will come.

I have learned that to learn a word, first you have to learn it, for example from Italian to English, and then one step harder is from English to Italian. Keep that in mind when you’re learning new words. Best of luck!

peridot's avatar

If you have a smart phone, check out the “StudyDroid” app. That might help.

Blackberry's avatar

@peridot Oh yeah, I didn’t think of that. There’s probably a few good language learning apps on the market.

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