Top 10 Tips for Learning the Italian Language (Part 2)

Oct 24, 2011

Blog cappucino and puzzle

i migliori consigli

the best tips

In my last post, I shared five of the strategies that helped me learn and love la bella lingua. The secret of the next five is having fun as you acquire a second tongue. 

6. Play. Word games in any language strengthen the brain and boost memory. In Italian giochi di parole, such as cruciverba (crosswords), enigmi (puzzles), and anagrammi (anagrams) add the extra bonus of building your vocabulary. You can buy inexpensive puzzle books at newsstands in Italy or play online.  Another fun option is playing the Italian versions of popular board games, such as Monopoly and Scarabeo (Scrabble), with friends or fellow students. Or you can ask an Italian to teach you card games such as Scopa and Briscola. (Just don’t bet any money on them.)

7. Mingle. Join a bocce team or a Vespa club. Watch a soccer match in an Italian bar or restaurant. Take cooking classes taught by Italians. Go to Italian street festivals. For informal opportunities to speak Italian, look for a local conversation group at Enroll in a class at schools, community centers, Italian cultural organizations — or, best of all, in Italy.

8. Don’t be afraid of tripping over your tongue. “Sbagliando si impara,” Italians say. “You learn by making mistakes.” Focus on communicating, not speaking in diagram-able sentences. If you can’t think of the correct tense, just say the infinitive of a verb — parlare for “speak”, for example — or stick to the present tense. And by all means, use your hands. That’s molto italiano.

9. Spend time in Italy every day. If you don't have time or money for a trip abroad, bring a little Italy into your life. Drink an espresso. Eat some pasta. Have a gelato. Listen to a Puccini aria. Wear something Italian (shoes are a great choice). Visit the websites of ex-pats, happy wanderers, and travel bloggers.

10. Be swept away. I fell so madly, gladly, giddily in love with Italian that I spent years researching and writing La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language. The more you know about how Italian became Italian, civilized the Western world, and enriched every aspect of our culture and life, the more Italian you’ll want to know.

For something entirely different, sit in on an Italian class with Monty Python:

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La Bella Lingua