According to Omniglot, we Britons have been enjoying a centuries-long love affair with the land shaped like a boot.

And for good reason, too!

Every music lover – and that includes us, is familiar with terms such as: andante, allegro, libretto and soprano.

Food, fashion, arts and culture: all reasons why we love Italy.

The next logical step would then be to learn the language of Dante, wouldn't it?

Learning Italian would not only benefit you personally – you could finally talk with people while on holiday in Tuscany, but professionally as well.

Studies show that job seekers who can speak more than one language are more likely to be hired, and bilingual employees receive, on average, a salary 5% higher than their counterparts who only speak English.

Learning Italian with an in-home personal tutor is arguably the best way to progress rapidly in your language studies, but then again: wouldn't your drive to study Italian lead you to engage in self-study?

To delve into materials your teacher has not yet covered? Find new and diverse ways to exercise your passion for the romantic?

We mean the language, not burning physical ardour, of course.

In this article, Superprof has arranged all manner of fun and engaging ways for you to develop your Italian language skills on your own, between visits from your Maestro.

Read on to find out how you can become bilingual, faster. Dai! Andiamo!

Lose yourself in Italian cinema, with the original soundtrack on
Watching movies with the original Italian soundtrack will expose you to native speakers' dialogue Source: Pixabay Credit: Avi_acl

Watch Italian Films with Original Soundtrack On

When trying to explain the gaps in native English speakers' foreign language ability, one usually blames the National Curriculum.

It is true that language learning in primary and secondary education focuses more on the written language.

Very little attention is paid to the audio portion of the language course, and little work is done to perfect pronunciation.

That is such a shame!

If we are learning a living language, then we must bring it to life with our very breath and voice.

That is where your Italian tutor shines.

They will give you plenty of opportunity to speak, and even prompt you on what to say.

During these sessions, you will learn Italian vocabulary and grammar, learn the language's word order rules and even how to conjugate verbs in all five of the tenses.

All of that is academic.

What you really need to keep your passion for Italian alive is immersion.  Watching Italian movies is the perfect way to do that.

When adopting movies as learning materials, you should play the original soundtrack, in order to derive the most benefit from the experience.

In other words: gain exposure to fluency of the language, as rendered by native speakers.

Even if you are only at beginner level, you would appreciate the rolling Rs, the stress and inflection and the musical quality of this romance language.

Italian cinema, much like the whole of Italian culture, is rich and varied. Whether you prefer comedy or tragedy, you are sure to find films to suit your tastes and help you immerse yourself into the language and culture of Italy.

Here are a few classic selections from among the many:

  • La Dolce Vita, a Fellini film about a writer arriving in Rome to seek his fortune
  • La Vita è Bella, a moving story of a Jewish family during WWII
    • check out other Roberto Benigni films for a classic look at Italian life

  • Caro Diario is Nanni Moretti's semi-autobiographic film about his journey between Rome and the Aeolian Islands

  • Morte a Venezia is a Lucchino Visconti film about a young composer in Venice, looking for inspiration

  • La Meglo Gioventu, by Marco Tullio Giordana, is a story of two brothers bowled over by the same Giorgia

This list is certainly non-exhaustive, but it is a good start on the Italian filmscape.

Don't wait for us to tell you about more great Italian movies! Go find them for yourself! Sbrigati!

Have questions about vocabulary you heard in a movie? Ask a private tutor - you can find them by searching for Italian classes London or a city near you.

Reading in Italian

For once, the scientific community is in agreement: reading boosts cognitive capabilities.

Studies show that reading novels has a positive effect on memory, and especially on the ability to express oneself in writing.

Thus if follows that, to advance your knowledge of Italian phrases as well as retain them, we recommend you read in Italian, between language lessons.

No excuses permitted!

Not only are such works available online, but your local library surely has a foreign language section that may comprise of such works as:

  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, credited by most to have consolidated the Italian language.

  • Se Questo è un Uomo – Primo Levi's poignant testimony of life in a concentration camp
  • Il Gattopardo, a recounting by Lampedusa of a Sicilian prince during the Italian Revolution

  • Il Decaméron depicts love stories from the erotic to the tragic, compiled by Bocacce
    • The original tales were written in rich Florentine dialect

The latter two titles have also been made into movies. That gives you the opportunity to enjoy these tomes not only in written Italian but also as the visual feast the films provide.

This short list of titles and authors has been compiled from the wealth of core classics; some from a time when books were hard to come by and the majority of the population could not read.

Today, thanks to technology and modern education, reading is actually a pleasurable pastime and materials are abundant.

Even better: you can read beloved classics such as The Little Prince in a multitude of languages, including Sardinian and Vogherese!

It being important to enjoy what you're reading, you might consider picking up a copy of this most translated book, either wholly in Italian or as a bilingual edition.

Reading in Italian is your gateway to culture
Reading translations of your favourite books is your gateway to Italian culture Source: Pixabay Credit: Ninocare

Immerse Yourself in the Culture!

Language is the vehicle through which we understand culture.

To learn a language means to discover its history, the traditions and customs.

By choosing to learn Italian, you are implicitly embracing her culture and traditions.

That's all well and good, but until your next Italian classes, how are you supposed to steep yourself completely in the culture, while still on British soil?

Unless you have the time and means to skip over to Venice or Naples on a daily basis, you will have to find such cultural avenues and language learning opportunities for yourself.

Well, not exactly: we're here to help.

As of last year, Great Britain has toppled Germany for the first choice of destinations among Italian emigrants.

Because of our growing Italian population, you may well enjoy an Italian association, not too far from where you live!

Or, you could meet up with a group of new friends from class, to form an alliance all your own.

Other ways to immerse yourself into the fabled Italian lifestyle while still at home in the UK would be:

  • Enjoy a foreign film festival – you may discover a screen gem!

    • For a more upscale experience, how about Italian opera?

  • Take a cooking class: plenty of schools and restaurants around the UK sponsor courses that teach anything from pasta-making to the legendary Tuscan cuisine
  • Make use of the Internet to listen to Italian radio broadcasts

    • you can listen to anything from talk radio or that particularly soulful music Italian balladeers are so famous for

In short: you have endless possibilities to brush up against spoken Italian and Italian culture. All you have to do is reach out!

And then, you can impress your teacher with your new words and phrases, at your next lesson!

Exercise your language skills by any means possible
There are many ways for you to exercise your new language skills Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt

Work Your Language Skills Regularly

A 2016 article in The Guardian revealed that the average brain can only absorb five to seven pieces of information at once.

Repetition, spaced out over regular intervals, trains our brain to learn better.

Austrian psychologist Sebastian Leitner advocated more frequent revision of less familiar material throughout the entire lesson.

You too can adopt this method for greater retention of Italian vocabulary.

All you need is a set of blank cards to write new words on. You can then categorise them by:

  • dipthongs

  • vowel elision

  • pronouns

  • prepositions

  • verb tenses

  • phrase constructions

Following the Leitner learning method, you would file your cards in order of: unknown, somewhat familiar with, known, and well-known.

Your review of the 'unknown' pile would be three times greater than the known pile.

You would review the known cards just to keep them current in your knowledge base.

Follow an Italian course online.

This spaced repetition methodology permits quicker absorption and better retention of material because you are using the familiar to learn the unfamiliar.

This learning style also promotes a regular rhythm of work that helps condition your brain to assimilate language knowledge faster.

What Else Are You Learning it For?

Your Italian teacher will be the first to tell you: between classes, use your language skills every chance you get.

We second that motion!

There are several ways to go about doing that without talking to yourself.

  • Make use of your Smartphone recorder app to speak Italian or read passages out loud.

    • You can then play the recordings back to verify tone and quality of speech.

  • While you have your phone in hand, find native Italian speakers to chat with

    • Several apps exist for the sole purpose of connecting language learners with native speakers

  • Arrange outings with other students in your language classes

    • preferably, to activities relevant to your studies

  • Plan a trip to Italy

You may have to wait until your next holiday off work, but in reality, with airfares currently so low, traveling to Italy for a weekend getaway might not be too much of a stretch.

Once there, feel free to demonstrate your proficiency in conversational Italian.

Of course, you are likely to run into friendly souls who would do their best to accommodate you by speaking English, but please: insist that they speak their native language.

Not only will it boost your confidence to to be able to converse with a native speaker, but it will help sharpen your listening skills.

In short: take any chance, no matter where or how, to practise speaking Italian.

Of course, you'll make mistakes; we all do.

How can you learn without making mistakes?

I never lose. I either win or I learn. - Nelson Mandela

All seriousness of learning aside: with a bit of passion and a dash of imagination; with your bounce of élan as you learn to speak Italian, you too will surely find that this is indeed a fun language.

From fiery expressions to sexy-sounding adjectives, the language spoken by more than seventy million people worldwide is in fact relatively easy to learn.

Even though our Inglese is in fact Germanic, a substantial portion of our vocabulary does come from Latin, and romance languages have influenced our speech.

So, as you go about your Italian lessons, as you spout Italian conversation and eat pasta, you may say grazie mille to the art of language blending, which has given us so many wonderful words. Learn how to prepare for your Italian lessons.

Molto bene!

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.