The Best Way to Learn Italian
After years of dreaming about it, you finally want to speak Italian fluently. You want to be able to communicate with your friend from Italy and explore Italian culture.
But what’s the best way to learn Italian? Textbooks, apps, classes, software...What’s the easiest, cheapest, quickest way to make progress? What works and what doesn’t?
Starting to learn a new language can be overwhelming. With all of the options out there, it's difficult to figure out what the best method is. So what's the way forward?
Before we get to the holy grail of Italian learning, let's take a look at these five basic approaches to learning Italian - each with its own set of pros and cons:
- Plunging Right In (Immersion)
- Reading In Italian (Translation Approach)
- Italian Textbooks (Grammar-based Approach)
- Italian Classes (Communicative Approach)
- Learning Italian Online (Vocabulary-based Approach)
1. Plunging Right In (Immersion)
The immersion approach plunges you into Italian language and culture. You travel to a Italian-speaking country and spend an extended period of time there. This will force you to use Italian in your day-to-day life - everywhere you go!
It is a great option for those who don't like formal study and have plenty of time and money to spare.
- The advantages: The immersion approach helps you to connect with native speakers, and teaches you valuable knowledge about Italian culture. Not only that, but it does all of this within a very short period of time.
- The disadvantages: This method is not for everyone. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and not to mention stressful when it comes to dealing with culture shock.
2. Reading In Italian (Translation Approach)
Reading your favorite book a second, third or fourth time is always a good idea. Why not read it in Italian this time?
It will force you to translate between Italian and your native language. Feel free to use a dictionary here.
- The advantages: It’s an excellent way of broadening your vocabulary when you’ve got a basic knowledge of Italian. The translation approach is cost-effective and can bring results to those willing to invest time and energy.
- The disadvantages: A major drawback is that the translation approach doesn’t really teach you to speak, write or understand spoken Italian.
3. Italian Textbooks (Grammar-based Approach)
Italian-learning textbooks mostly use the grammar-based approach. They focus on teaching the grammatical rules of Italian. You will mostly train your reading and writing skills.
- The advantages: For learners who like to fully understand the structure of the Italian language, this is a great and cost-effective method.
- The disadvantages: You won’t get many opportunities to actually speak or listen to Italian and must memorize a lot of grammar rules. This can be very frustrating and sometimes a little boring.
4. Italian Classes (Communicative Approach)
This is the approach we all know from school. It involves a teacher who gives lessons to a small group of students. Lessons are usually divided into reading, writing, listening and speaking activities.
- The advantages: Language classes will give you a good general education. If the teacher plans and teaches the class well, you can have basic conversations in Italian a few weeks into the course. Another benefit is that you have plenty of learning partners in a group of students!
- The disadvantages: A big minus of Italian classes is that you won’t get individual training custom-tailored to you. Your learning depends on the group of students and their pace of progress. Also, courses at universities or language schools are expensive!
5. Learning Italian Online (Vocabulary-based Approach)
Have you thought about using a Italian learning app or software? We bet you have! It’s one of the most popular ways of learning Italian right now.
Most of the online learning applications make use of the vocabulary-based approach. You learn Italian by associating words with pictures of the objects they represent. Say goodbye to lessons on grammar rules. You will pick up the structure of a language along the way.
- The advantages: You can improve your vocabulary very quickly with this method because you repeat words over and over. A major plus is that you can learn at any time and any place that suits you.
- The disadvantages: First, the vocabulary you learn is often not the most practical. Second, you risk sounding a bit like Tarzan when you speak because you don’t learn any grammar rules. A good vocabulary-based program can be difficult to find and expensive.
What Is The Best Way To Learn Italian?
So what’s the secret? What is the best way to make progress?
The truth is that there isn't only one best way to learn Italian.
Keep two things in mind:
First - every Italian learner is different! What works for others, might not work for you. Try out different approaches and find out what suits you best.
Second - the key to being a successful Italian learner is incorporating the above methods. Different approaches will teach you different aspects of Italian - reading, writing, listening and speaking!
The best way to learn Italian is to surround yourself with the language as much as possible. Study Italian vocabulary and grammar in an engaging way - with apps, software, or books. Speak Italian out loud as often as you can - to native speakers or to other learners. Soak up Italian books, movies, and social media.
Ideally, the best way to learn Italian includes:
- Interactive lessons (online or in a classroom) that teach Italian vocabulary, grammar and culture through reading, writing, listening and speaking
- A period of daily Italian immersion
- The ability to study at your own pace
- Professional guidance from a native Italian speaker trained in education
- The ability to interact with Italian native speakers and other non-native Italian language learners
- Occasional translation activities between Italian and your native language
- The ability to study vocabulary in a colorful, visual and interactive way
- Reinforcement testing of skills learned
- Motivational incentives to encourage daily practice
This may sound like a lot to ask for, but online courses like Rocket Italian can provide you with many of these features. It's also easier than ever to supplement your studies with other programs either online or in person.
Learn Italian With Rocket Italian
Rocket Italian is an online Italian course that incorporates various of the above methods. Our lessons include audio tracks, a pronunciation tool, language & culture lessons and extensive reinforcement testing.
Why don’t you listen to the first Rocket Italian Interactive Audio Lesson right here?
Unlike other Italian learning resources out there, we don’t focus on only one approach. We believe there is more to learning a language than vocabulary and grammar drills.
You want to learn Italian to communicate with others - confidently and authentically. Rocket Italian will teach you exactly that.
Start your first Italian lesson right now! You can sign up to our completely free, life-time trial of Rocket Italian here.
What are you waiting for? Avanti!
Maria DiLorenzi and the Rocket Italian Team