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gorgeousgal3's avatar

How long does it take to learn to speak Italian fluently?

Asked by gorgeousgal3 (393points) January 19th, 2011

How long does it take to really process a new language if all you know is English? Can it be picked up fast or will it take many years if all I understand is English? I’m interested in being able to speak and understand the language because I am half italian. Can anyone recommend any good books or online lessons/language cds etc?

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11 Answers

shunyata's avatar

I found in my own experience that the best way to learn a language is actually go to that country. It helped me to know some basics first.
It’s amazing how fast one can learn it when one lives with the people.
As I said it is best to maybe get some tapes first and listen to them, then seek some italian friends or go to the country.

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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It took me a couple of years. And that many to forget it.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Depends on your flair for languages, but I guess a good 3–4 years.

Seelix's avatar

I’m not sure if these books are available in the US, but the ones I’ve used over the years that have been most helpful are Adesso by Danesi and Lettieri, and Con Fantasia by Danesi, Lettieri and Bancheri. The Living Language series of audio programs is supposedly pretty good too. It helps to have some kind of audio in order to help with pronunciation – nothing sounds worse than a foreign language spoken with a terrible accent.

The language forums at are also really helpful for questions you might have.

I’ve been studying Italian off and on for 15 years and I’m halfway through my MA right now. Depending on how well you pick up languages, it would probably take at least a couple of years to get any real fluency. Check out some Italian movies as well.

Odysseus's avatar

How long is a piece of string? (twice as long as half its length you say?)

It depends on your ability. Some people may take months, some years and others decades.

lemming's avatar, and a really good one; LingQ-the future of language learning. You could get a good grasp of it in a year if you study hard, but you wouldn’t be fluent, then living in the country with some previous knowledge I believe it would take you about a year if you’re talking to people in the language alot every day.

MissAnthrope's avatar

It boils down to your natural ability to learn languages and how much time and effort you’re able to put toward it. I had about 5 years of French in school, but when I actually went there to live, that was barely adequate preparation. The first week, I had a headache every single day, from listening and thinking so freaking hard. It took about a month of living there and only speaking French and I was casually fluent. As in, a lot of words I still didn’t know, but I understood and could easily participate in daily conversations.

I have a natural gift for mimicry, which in turn, means a gift in languages. Also, with my 5 years of school study, it’s hard for me to say whether I’d have been in the same place after a month of immersion, without that background. Definitely after the 10–11 months of living there speaking only French, I was fluent. I also had gotten the accent down to where no one could guess my real country of origin.

Now, on the other hand, my mom moved to Italy about 15 years ago and I’ve been going there once every year or two. I usually spend at least 3 weeks when I go, but I speak English at home with the family and I don’t much study it when I’m in the US (though I should), so my learning is limited and definitely plateaued. For me to progress at this point, I have to really study it.

So, in my opinion/experience, it’s all about how easy or hard languages are for you and also whether you have the time to really study it and speak it.

gorgeousgal3's avatar

Thank you for the advice. I guess it will take me a long time because of my processing speed which is slow even when I study something diligently. Hearing it on a cd though might help me.

MissAnthrope's avatar

You could try taking an Italian 101 class at a community college, they tend to be fairly affordable. Then, with that basis, you can work yourself though the textbook. I’d look into any clubs or conversation groups in your area. Good luck! It’s a beautiful and fun language. :)

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