Learning the Italian Language

Hi again,

As mentioned in my previous topic earlier today I am an english speaking Australian that has been living in Italy for one month now and don't know the Italian language.   

Wanting to know roughly how long it took some of you to learn Italian and how you did it.  Did you go to school or teach yourself? 

I have been teaching myself (my girlfriend is a great help also) but don't seem to be making as much progress as I thought.  I can understand a lot more Italian words and sentances in books/newspapers but I wouldn't be able to say or express them (I know what the words mean when I see them but can't remember them when I need to say them).  It is the first foreign language that I am learning so I'm not sure if I'm making good progress.

Grazie for any advice you can give.


Hi Rainman8,

We've been in Italy for about a year total (three different trips: 7 months, 2 months, and now 2 months so far). I spoke Spanish previously, so I'm pretty much O.K. in Italian. But my husband really struggled. What has helped for him is having a real need to speak it. A couple of months ago he got a job at an Italian company where there is only one other English speaker. His boss told him his job for the next few months was to learn Italian. He also has some serious responsibilities at Church that require him to speak Italian. When he has a meeting coming up, he writes down everything he will want to say in English, and then has someone help him translate it into Italian. Then he memorizes it. Once he's done that, he remembers the vocabulary forever because he's used it. He also uses livemocha.com, a free online language learning community. You can read my review of it here:

http://casteluzzo.blogspot.com/2010/10/ … ghnut.html

I'd say the key is getting yourself into lots of situations where you NEED to speak Italian, and preparing yourself for them beforehand. It's a lot of work, but the reward is worth it.

Good luck!

Warm regards,

There are also lessons super cheap for only €25 a month the problem is there is limited space for them. You can find the info here (Moderated)

Ciao tutti,
Check out the local comune were you live, sometimes they offer free Italian classes that are really good. A word of advice, learn the Italian verbs first. Then the rest will flow better. I have been in Italy for 1 year and still struggle with the language. So be patient. Giovanni

Hey Rainman8,
this sounds really stupid but I honest-to-god learned conversational Italian from DVDs. I did it as a surprise for my Italian husband's birthday and in 3 months I learned enough (and I was starting from ZERO comprehension) to make a little speech for him. The program I used was Rosetta Stone (they have super corny ads in flight magazines which is where I learned about it) and it works because you learn how a kid learns... first the word (vocab) then in the context of a simple sentence. Its done on your computer so its kind of fun and REALLY useful.

I would totally do this program for any language I would like to learn in the future!

Good luck! Just be happy Italians like to talk, it makes learning their language much easier.


Hi Rainman,

Im an Aussie aswell and What can I say ... Im in the same position as you but maybe a little worst (as Ive been here longer). I came to Italy to study fashion for 9 months. My course was in Italian but we had english translaters in which I now believe was bad. I understand Italian 80% but to speak is the problem. Italian is my first foreign language that I am learning and yes im finding it a bit of a struggle. As Australian mother tongue we arent forced to speak another language. My boyfriend is Italian and he speaks very perfect english. I think we need to find a good italian course and let our partners only speak in Italian to us. The more we immerge ourselves in the italian environment the more we are pushed to speak. I just think I need a big kick up my backside tell you the truth.. :P.
Let me know if you find of any good courses
good luck


I second a lot of others' advice of you need to use the language. I have been living in Florence for about 8 years now, and even started a small wine tour company here (Moderated). I actually learned the language really pretty fast, but am now and will be always still learning. What helped me learn was my living situation. I came over from San Francisco with my wife who is from Florence. We lived with her family here for about 6 months before we were certain we would be staying.

During the first 2 months of that time I spent every day about 4 hours a day in an immersion program at a language school. When I came home from class, I still heard and used Italian with my wife's family. Also, during the first couple of months, I avoided passing time with other English speakers. This is mostly because of the experiences of some others I met in the first weeks I was here. I had met a couple of students early on who were working on their masters in art history. They had been here for over 2 years and could barely order food at a restaurant. I am not gifted with languages. I studied Spanish for years in high school and university, but never got beyond a level that I could speak a bit but never understood what was said back to me. After 2 months of immersion in Italy I spoke more conversantly in Italian than after 8 years of Spanish classes... The key here is immersion.

The last thought I have on this is that if you really want to learn a language you need to think like a child again. Mind wide open.  And non of the social inhibitions and barriers we created throughout our adult lives can act as a filter to what you say. Watch children learn their own language (any language). The make tons of mistakes, apply rules in areas that they don't apply, and say some of the most ridiculous things... We think it's cute because they are kids, but adults don't want to make those same mistakes. Unfortunately we have to... I think two of the worst things I said always seemed to happen at the table and always with my father in law. The first was when I asked him about the "condoms" in Italian food (mistaking preservativi, condoms, for conservanti, preservatives). The second was when I asked him to pass me the "doggy-style" (simple mistake of changing the "o" at the end of pecorino cheese to an "a"). Luckily he has a good sense of humor. Have fun with the language, it is beautiful and it will open a lot of doors for you while you are here...

Thanks to all your help everyone.  All your advice is great,  I have been a bit lazy recently with learning Italian,  gave up for a while,  but have had a few breakthroughs with understanding a few things which has really built up my motivation. It is getting kind of scary actually as my girlfriend is getting worse with her English and I was thinking if she has problems understanding me I am  $£"W%!!  ;) 



Hi there,
We lived in Italy for two years (I am also an Aussie) our daughter who was then 3 was fluent in about 4 months (she went to school there). I have been learning through a teacher called Michel Thomas and he is fantastic. No taking notes, no trying to remember, no learning by rote.
michelthomas.com - language course

We have bought a house in Liguria and plan to be back for good in May 2011 looking forward to "being a kid" and making some mistakes.
ciao for now
renovatingitaly.com.au-Renovating Italy

The biggest probelmm I had was that I looked so pale that everybody knew I was English and they all wanted to practice their English on me.
I bought a Linguaphone course before I went.  I didn't use it much beforehand but it still gave me a good start.  I also found watching TV helped a lot with vocab.  As others have said, you need to use it as much as possible.  I was amazed at what I managed when I had to.  I was never fluent but I could do almost anything after 5 months.
By the way, you will find it much harder to learn how to write Italian properly since it's a formal language so bear that in mind and don't be hard on yourself.

I am sure the best way to learn iitalian language is to go in Italy for 2 weeks or more!
I have found such italian language school in San Remo, I have done 2 weeks there, and than i were back, because i needed to do cils exam for my University in Italy. After this school i have passes all succesfully! I give you a link!
If you have more questions, write me pvt!
fda-sanremo.com- italian school

I suggest you go out alone and get talking. I found doing the shopping in local markets is a great help. People are friendly and very helpful. They want to sell their stuff!

If u want learn italian i Advice you of listen many italian songs with trasleter.i think that it can help you.

Hi 👋

To practice your Italian, I would suggest that you listen, read and watch as much Italian content as possible. And if possible, find an Italian friend to speak with ! 😊

To help foreigners learn Italian, I launched :
- my podcast : https://anchor.fm/italianwithannalisa
- my youtube channel : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLkVn45YO3Sl6A5fj5lDBhg
- my Clubhouse : https://www.clubhouse.com/club/learn-italian-annalisa

Ci vediamo presto ! 😊


I want to get in touch with you as much as possible to get to know you and be a friend to you

You are welcome

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