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Best Way to learn Italian, Rozeta Stone?


Aug 30th, 2011, 12:01 PM
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Best Way to learn Italian, Rozeta Stone?

Hello, the wife and I got back from Italy a month from today and loved every second of it. She had been there several times before visiting her family and this is the first time that I was able to come. We had an awesome experience mainly because we stayed with her grandparents and aunt and uncles houses in a small mountain town outside of Cassino.

The only issue we had was that farther away we got from Rome the more people didn't understand English. Even in Napoli not as many people spoke English. Everyone was very nice and mostly found it amusing that I was American and butchered everything that I tried to say. When we were at her cousin's wedding I really wish I was able to at minimum be able to pick up more of what people said instead of having to rely on her father and grandparents to translate everything.

We are looking more for conversational Italian then just practical vocabulary. I've been told Rozeta Stone is amazing but I've been reading some reviews that have put me on the fence. If you have purchased Rozeta stone do you recommend spending the money right up front and buying all 5 phases (nearly $500 investment). We are hoping to go back in a year or two and would really like to be able to communicate better. I only wish her dad would have taught my wife to speak his native language. Any thoughts on the topic would be helpful.
jamannor is offline  
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Aug 30th, 2011, 12:06 PM
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If you type rosetta stone into the search the forums box above you will retrieve about a billion references to rosetta stone threads. In them will be other options for you to consider.
It's a big investment to spend $500 up front if you won't really use it. Try your library first or one of the online options to see if you're going to commit to it. I never have, but I'm seriously lazy.
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Aug 30th, 2011, 01:04 PM
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Good advice above. Make sure you're committed first (library or online).

Rosetta Stone is a lot like treadmills in that most people who buy one spend $2000 on the treadmill, end up using it for one month, and then it just sits there...

Once you are sure you're in that 10% who will actually use it to it's fullest, it IS a great way to learn a language.
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Aug 30th, 2011, 01:04 PM
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Take a class. You've got plenty of time. It takes real discipline to learn a language, and having to show up at a class, and do homework, is good for forcing you to stick with it.

Listen to Italian radio. Watch Italian news and movies. Read Italian newspapers when you've got a basic understanding of the language under your belt.

Italian is an easy language, but it will still require a big investment on your part to get to the point of actually being able to converse (especially with the relatives in the south).
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Aug 30th, 2011, 01:31 PM
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Best way ... is what is compatible with your learning style and your goals. To find out, you will have to try out various methods quickly up front and invest on what works. I borrowed Pimsleur series from library and confirmed that it would work for me to get the rhythm of the Italian. i subsequently completed all three levels. However, I realized that it was weak in explaining grammatical structures, so I tried both non-credit conversational as well as credit college courses. The non-credit courses were thought by someone familiar with the language, but not teaching the language so it was not useful for me at all. However for those who have problem taking graded college level courses, these whatever you get out will do type of course would do. I prefer credit based college level courses.
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Aug 30th, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Hi jammanor,

like you, i got frustrated with not being able to make myself understood in italy. then I came across Michel Thomas in the local library. it worked for me - much, much better than anything else ever has in the language learning department.

you should be able to find it in your library, and there are loads of copies on e-bay too. you are looking for the 8 cassette/disc beginners course. [there is a 2 cassette one but you've finished it before you begin].

he is idiosyncratic, annoying, and repetitive, but you learn how the language works, and how to use it in different situations, not a string of specific phrases that you don't really understand. with the confidence it gave me, I went on to do exam courses in the UK and am doing an advanced conversation class this year.

it may not work for you, of course, but its worth a try.

PS - this is NOT an advert!
annhig is online now  
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Aug 30th, 2011, 09:55 PM
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Check eBay. There are almost always a couple of used sets of Rosetta Stone (and Pimsleur too). Make sure you include 'used' in the search box.
Jean is online now  
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Aug 30th, 2011, 10:47 PM
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You might begin by downloading the simple, free podcast called "My Daily Phrase Italian." 100 4-minute lessons in traveler's Italian. If this maintains your interest, then you might invest in a more comprehensive program.
ellenem is offline  
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Aug 31st, 2011, 12:42 AM
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Check out reviews of the Paul Noble language courses, Italian, French and Spanish, and consider whether that approach may work for you -

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Aug 31st, 2011, 09:06 AM
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I agree with Greg - what works best depends on your needs and learning style. Like Greg I also found the Pimsleur Italian method in the library - free is good- and I liked it because it is a method that is auditory, not mixed. One thing I really liked about Pimsleur is that it would break down the correct pronunciation of each word, something that other methods do not do. I would pop a lesson, each about 1/2 hour in the car's CD player on the way to work and review it on the way back. It is a bit repetitive but that was ok. I got through 26 lessons before our latest Italy trip and it made a world of difference.
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Aug 31st, 2011, 09:30 AM
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I wish I had started trying to learn some of the language a long time ago. I'm having fun with it, but I'm betting my mind will go blank when I actually get to Italy and need to speak and/or understand anything besides basic greetings. It would be great to have someone to practice with, and I think that if you and your wife are learning together you will have an advantage over anyone trying to learn alone. I have been using the Learn in your Car cd's that I borrowed and burned from the library and haven't gotten past the first 2 cd's and there are 9 of them.

Here's a link to an on line magazine I found that does Dual language articles.


I enjoy trying to decipher these and think they are good practice. I do find that if I have time I can figure out what the article is trying to get across, but again, if I'm under pressure with a sign in front of me in Italy things will be completely different.

Good luck, whatever you manage to learn will be a great benefit for your next trip I'm sure.

Cindy P.
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Aug 31st, 2011, 09:52 AM
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Having arrived here in 2003 with rusty schoolboy Latin, and only the Italian I'd picked up from menus and holiday visits, what I found worked best was having an Italian to teach me, and we tracked down a recent graduate in, I guess, the equivalent of 'Modern Languages'...so she'd enough English that we never couldn't explain what we were saying in either direction!

Not so much for the formal stuff, declining and conjugating, although she'd set me "homework" (at fifty-whatever!)... but we'd read the papers together, and I'd hear the words being spoken and used properly - that sort of thing.

Fixed appointments meant no opportunity for backsliding as I'd done with the various tapes and CD courses - and instead, in choosing themes that were of interest or relevance at the time, it turned from a chore into a pleasure....

$500 should buy a reasonable amount of lessons?

A_Brit_In_Ischia is offline  
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Aug 31st, 2011, 11:34 AM
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We bought the full set Rosetta Stone and faithfully did the lessons over 6 months. IMO for the expense, it is more useful for someone moving/working in Italy rather than the occasional traveler.

We were not overly concerned with being grammatically correct, speaking in complete sentences, etc. Basically, we wanted to be understood and to understand (ah, Peace Prayer of St. Francis)and we did accomplish that(assuming they spoke slowly enough). We are able to read better than we can "listen." Our newly acquired limited language skills were very useful, especially in the small towns where it was difficult to find someone who spoke English.

You may be able to achieve the same objectives with some of the less expensive alternatives others have recommended. I'd try them first.
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Aug 31st, 2011, 12:39 PM
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Here's a link to the downloads for My Daily Phrase Italian:

ellenem is offline  
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Sep 12th, 2011, 09:21 AM
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I debated Rosetta Stone too, but before I forked over the $ I decided to take advantage of my free/ inexpensive options first, and have been very happy! www.livemocha.com has free language courses in Italian and 30+ other languages. They also have courses you can pay for if you would like but the basic/free courses are enough to get you started. You have reading, writing and speaking assignments. There are native speakers that correct your writing/speaking assignments and give you advice. It is a great place to get started. Also I love their free downloads of words and phrases you are currently working on. I usually put them on cd and listen to them on my way to work or while I am doing chores around the house. Also great on the mp3 player to take to the gym or on a walk. I think it is great that you are both interested. It is good to have alanguage buddy to practice back and forth with.
Aside from livemocha I picked up a basic dictionary and phrase book, but also a work/study (Barron's) book with vocabulary and speaking exercises (once again great you have someone to study with) Combine a few different books/websites/podcasts and you won't need to fork over $500 + unless you want to.
It is fun and exciting. Just don't try to cram. Take your time. Use it in you daily life at home as you learn!
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Sep 12th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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I'd second annhig's recommendation of Michel Thomas, especially if you can find the CDs in your local library. It's not perfect, and if anything, is very short on vocabulary, but he gets ideas across very well.

Second suggestion , and very expensive: Plan your next holiday around a Language school in Italy. I know this sounds like hard work, but I loved it, and it really is a vacation rather than a chore. I learnt more Italian in two weeks than I had in four years of night classes, and more importantly, I left with the courage to use what I had learnt and actually spoke to people.
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Sep 13th, 2011, 02:22 AM
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hi willit- well said.

even my one week was very worthwhile, though i think that 2 weeks would have been more than twice as good, if that makes sense.

as for the lack of vocabulary in Michel Thomas, that is perhaps true, but vocabulary is relatively easy to learn and he gives you the tools to employ whatever vocabulary you've got.
annhig is online now  
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Sep 13th, 2011, 02:52 AM
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Pimsleur $9.95 + Free S&H
Best Pimsleur offer ever! Offer ends soon. Act now.

best for me for most way cheaper than rosettastone.com

the high priced alternative...

Immersion the best way to go live in a nice small village

that speaks nothing but Italian you will pick it up quickly.

Good luck!
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Sep 13th, 2011, 04:20 AM
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Hi Jamannor,

I applaud your desire to learn Italian, especially since you have family over there. I am not familiar with Rosetta Stone (expensive!) but know that it is available at our local library. I have set myself to the task of re-learning French which I took for 3 years in high school and 2 ½ years in college – lo, many decades ago!

As usual, the Fodorites above have provided some excellent suggestions and approaches to learning a new language. All agree that it requires commitment over a long period of time. Since I have “retired again” from teaching, I figure that I have a large chunk of time before going to Paris next May or June.

I started by buying a BERLITZ, ESSENTIAL FRENCH for about $10, along with hefty LAROUSSE FRENCH/ENGLISH DICTIONARY for about $13. The BERLITZ has 20 basic lessons. I reviewed them once and am now on my second round of review. Each lesson starts with an easy dialogue which introduces new grammatical constructions including tenses, masc/fem nouns, pronouns, idioms, and the like. Exercises (haven’t done them all yet) and list of vocabulary are included at the end of each chapter. BERLITZ book includes a CD and provides access to their website for further study.

My grandson in the 6th grade is just starting to study Spanish. My daughter, who took the subject for many years, wants to review the language with him. So today I am returning to Barnes & Noble (our big book store) to get her a BERLITZ in Spanish.

I also spend time checking out French websites and work on translating different passages. Not as easy as it sounds because many, especially travel sites, change into English very quickly even when I click on the “Francais” option. Recently, I found an excellent site which, when I click on a sentence, provides the English version. I also invested in an OXFORD HACHETTE FRENCH/ENGLISH DICTIONARY (about $50 with shipping, I think) on CD-Rom which I love. Using it while translating on line is so much easier than rifling through my LAROUSSE. I also have a notebook handy in which I scribble down those words and definitions which I look up on the CD as I go.

Charlotte J., thanks for your suggestion about livemocha – going to check that out today.

Jamannor, good luck and please let us know how you and your wife are progressing in Italian….
latedaytraveler is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2011, 06:02 AM
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I've been studying Portuguese. I bought the first phase of the Rosetta Stone and thought it was good but it only got me to a basic level. I then made the choice to get a private tutor instead of continuing with the Rosetta Stone. This was a hundred times better than the online study. It was much quicker picking things up face to face with a teacher than just repeating things to myself at the computer. And as Brit says, you have a certain discipline - the scheduled time for study together and then homework assignments and study on your own during the week.

I would recommend a tutor once a week and it's ok if you want to supplement with a Rosetta Stone or other online study. But after a year with a tutor, you won't believe how well you can converse - actually converse as opposed to simply repeating phrases.
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