Experience with learning Italian?

Oct 5th, 2004, 06:33 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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k_999_9 I like Pimsleur. I bought their 6-disc set in B & N last year for my trip to Paris, used it again this year. Like you, I had a working knowledge and was looking for a refresher. Probably harder to follow if you hadn't studied the grammar and vocabulary. It worked, as I found myself on autopilot with the basic daily conversations like eating out, shopping and asking for directions. One proviso, some of the more formal structures I found were not really used, and some of the pronunciations I found off. $19.99 in 2003, (U.S), and it even has a money-back guarantee - can't beat that--and a $50 coupon off a purchase of a more in-depth program. Reasonable because there's no companion book. CD's maximize my drive time, esp since my library has only tapes. I prefer to just listen to programs, and then pull out my old college textbooks to fill in the rest. Your library is a great resource, but some programs are cumbersome, don't flow or concentrate on really odd lessons.

Ooh, also buy a copy of 501 Verbs, and copy the conjugations to keep with you. I tend to get lazy and use the past perfect and present tense, but if you refresh your past tense and future, it is a great boost to your ability to converse. By the way, I was complemented many times on my (lack of American) accent. I beleive the program really helped me tweak sounds I misremembered or was lazy in executing.

I only have French, or I'd have been happy to just give them to you. I am planning a trip to Italy for next Spring, so if you want to share them, I'll buy them from you when you're done! Seriously. See if there's anything used on Amazon...all my used music cd's from there have been absolutely pristine. Good luck.
ninasdream is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 07:10 PM
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I've used both Pimsleur Spanish II-III and French III, but not Italian. The general method is fairly similar in those two languages, as well as the things you practice. I think they are okay for practicing pronunciation and to get used to hearing the language, but I wasn't really that impressed with them. They really beat to death the same phrases over and over, and some of them were not that useful to travelers or even common things one would talk about. That's my opinion, anyway. I bought a used set of a few French tapes on Ebay and then got the others from my library. They are really expensive and I personally do not think they are worth the price. I'm not a big fan of audio methods, in general, though, as a way to really learn a language -- I believe in classes. There is no text with them, and you don't really learn what you are saying exactly because y9u can't see it written, nor grammar or tenses, or how to construct sentences very well on your own. Many words and letters sound very similar on tapes, and in Spanish I couldn't figure out what words they were really using for a long time until I had a real class and studied Spanish more.

They aren't that advanced, just wanted to warn you. The highest level they have, level III seemed about the end of the first year of a regular language class. I got the French to brush up as I wasn't used to speaking it daily, and the French III were pretty basic, I thought. I wouldn't call them advanced. I think the same thing about the Spanish, but I don't know Spanish nearly as well, so got a little more use out of them.

If you can't take a real class, I think they are worth the time, but I wouldn't pay retail for them.
Christina is offline  
Oct 6th, 2004, 09:19 AM
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Thanks again to all who replied. If i do buy them, Nina, I'll contact you.
k_999_9 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2004, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 53
It appears that if you are on the tightest of budgets, and not concerned about copyright laws (I am guessing), there are other options:


I have never tried any of these sellers.

However I have used Pimsleur Italian, levels I and II (from a legitimate source), and HIGHLY recommend the approach.
jspowell is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 12:42 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,549
Just to update you all, I finally finished the Pimsleur Russian CD's (all 3 series) and have moved on to Italian in preparation for my up coming Xmas trip. I am up to Italian 1, Lesson 5. I think I should knock off the first series before Christmas and possibly get into the beginning of Italian 2.

Eventually, I want to do Spanish because I do need that language at work.

Knowing even a little of the local language does enhance your trip!
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1
I just completed Pimsleur's Italian The Short Course. I checked it out from the library a couple of times. I lived in Italy as a teenager for a couple of years and got up to speed instantly with this program. I'm going to Italy in May. I am going to listen to my friend's last few lessons of the Italian I and maybe I'll buy the II or III...I'm not sure. It's been 20 years since I've lived in Italy, so I might need II. I LOVED the program...although it is more formal than how they really speak, but it gets you back in the swimg...of having to listen and speak... I checked out every Italian program in my library system and listened to all of them a little...but Pimsleur is like having an Italian buddy right there. Ebay or some site you can get it used would be my guess.
mustangcindy67 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 05:24 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,549
I ended up completing Pimsleur Italian 1 and doing 2 lessons of Italian 2 before my recent trip to Rome over the Christmas holidays. I have to say the CD's really helped a lot. Lord knows what I did to the syntax but I was able to get the basic point across in a pinch.

I am going to finish the 2nd series because I am going to Sicily with elderhostel in May.

Yes, I know they speak dialect there, but they do learn standard Italian in school.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 07:42 PM
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FauxSteMarie- I would be very interested to hear about how you used the Italian in Sicily. I was planning a trip to Sicily as well and was curious to see how I'd do without knowledge of dialect. Hope you'll post back.
ninasdream is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 08:23 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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I will post a report after I get back. Since I will be on a cruise on a sailboat (much more pricey than my usual rock bottom price home exchanges), I will probably have less need to speak Italian than I did in Rome. While many people speak at least some English, not all do. I was able to make myself understood--even one time on the telephone--but I certainly could not have an intellectual discussion about anything. It was simply tourist language: "Where is the bathroom?" "Do you have pizza?" etc.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
Feb 26th, 2005, 05:25 PM
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Posts: 793
I'm in the midst of using Pimsleur's French. I bought traveler's french for very cheap from Amazon. Now, I'm halfway through those lessons and bought French I and French II on ebay, for less. I'm enjoying this morning lesson of French. I learn while I'm making breakfast and then again while I drive to and from work. I was most excited and adept at the "I would like to drink some wine" lesson. Now that's a lesson I will use!

Beyond that, the method of anticipating, responding and reminding seems to be working for me. I sound good in my lessons anyway!
Danna is offline  
Feb 27th, 2005, 03:57 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 182
I did the Pimsleur Italian II set of 30 tapes before our recent trip, to brush up ancient college-level Italian. It was an easy program, because of course you can fit your language study into that wasted time when you're just driving around, but I agree with Donna D44 that you shouldn't expect this type of language study to make you fluent, or able to carry on a conversation that goes beyond the most basic and superficial. The tapes are designed to give you expertise in ordering drinks and food, finding directions, and talking simply about travel and whether you like Italy. This approach needs to be supplemented with boring verb-crunching, reading whatever Italian texts you can get your hands on, and conversational practice.
Lois_L is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 02:01 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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I did the Pimsleur I & II Italian series before my recent trip to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. They really helped me get around in the towns when we had free time. Someone asked me once if my parents were Italian, so I must have done OK. The bottom line is not to be afraid to try. If they understand you, that is the point insofar as traveling is concerned.

I would like to do the third series sometime but am going to switch to Spanish because I need Spanish for work. If and when I travel to Italy again, I will review Pimsleur I & II and then do III.
FauxSteMarie is offline  
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