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Familiarizing my brain with the Italian & Norweigan Language

Familiarizing my brain with the Italian & Norweigan Language

Mar 30th, 2009, 02:58 PM
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Familiarizing my brain with the Italian & Norweigan Language

What would you recommend me to listen to or use to semi-learn Italian and Norweigan.

I'm heading to Europe, leaving July 28. Will be in Italy for 1 week and Norway for 2 weeks. I'm not as concerned about learning Norweigan as we've got many friends there that speak English. Italian on the other hand, I would like to learn or at least well enough to order at a restaurant and carry polite conversation.

I've only got 4 months to learn and I work 8-5 and am fairly busy. Is there a quick method? Or one that I can work to my own schedule...What have you used/heard of?

Thanks for your suggestions, I hope to post my itinerary soon so watch for it!

SamandKy is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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hi, samandKY,

well, first of all, as an inveterate learner of bits of languages, you should really pick one of the two - you simply won't manage both unless you are a brilliant linguist with time to devote loads of time to them.

Personally, in this situation, I would go for the Italian - as you say most Norweigians will know some English, and some will know lots.

secondly, i would beg/borrow/steal the beginner's italian course by Michel Thomas. [try e-bay, but be careful to check whether you are getting tapes or CD's - i thought I'd bought tapes and got CDs]. there is an introductory course, [4 tapes] a beginner's course [8 tapes] and a follow-on course [8 tapes]. in 4 months if you use it in the car, you ought to be able to manage the beginner's course. unlike most language courses [including the BBC learn Polish one which I bought last week and is pretty useless] M. Thomas teaches you the way the language works. so you can build on what you know without being stuck with stock phrases you don't really understand.

I am living proof his way works - I'm now doing GCSE Italian and a great deal of what I know is down to him.

good luck,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 03:20 PM
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For restaurants, you really need a menu translator, not a language course. Italian food is quite regional and quirky, and this goes double when it comes to eating fish. In my experience, Italian wait staff is usually more than happy to converse with you about the dishes, except in the most touristy places.

Where are you going in Italy?
zeppole is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 03:42 PM
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I would only worry about Italian. I seriously doubt that you will encounter many people in Norway that don't speak good to excellent English. Trying to learn it is a waste of your time and trying to speak it is a waste of the Norwegians' time. Sticking to English will be simpler for everyone involved.

I will say that the Rosetta Stone software is decent, but obviously not free and focuses on actually learning the language, rather than tourist phrases. A quick stop at Borders or Barnes & Noble will probably provide you with some Italian phrase books.

Or, you could just not worry about it. Millions of people visit Italy each year without speaking the language. No reason you can't be among them. Besides, you will only be able to learn enough to maybe get your point across. You almost certainly won't be carrying on conversations, given your limited study time.
travelgourmet is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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Thank you for your suggestions.

Annhig - I don't have a tape player in my car so I w ould have to get the CD's...is there a reason you say to order tapes? Are they better?

Zeppole - yes I think I'll have to go with the 'coversing with waitstaff' to order from the menu. Rick Steve's book says that's a good way to do it as they know the most popular dishes.

We're going to Rome. A day trip to Lucca and Pisa. And to Sorrento, with day trips to Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Amalfi Coast, and Capri.

I'd like to get a basis in the language for my own sake as well...not just the traveling. My great gradparents were both from Lucca so I'd like to eventually learn Italian (or the basics) for sentimental value.
SamandKy is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 03:53 PM
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With the possible exception of Roma, you will find most waitstaff know enough English to translate menu items for you.

Are you saying you plan to take a day trip to Pisa and Lucca from Rome? I don't think that's doable. Double check the train skeds.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 03:54 PM
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By the way, there's a language school in Lucca if you ever get really sentimental and decided to spend some time there doing some learning.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 04:01 PM
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If I decide to get really sentimental-

Yes we are planning on it. Speed Train to Florence then pop over to Lucca...Pisa will be quick only if we have time. Like I said...Our Itinerary needs work, I'll post it soon.

You sound like you know your stuff...I could probably (definitely) use your help in planning this!
SamandKy is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 04:23 PM
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I live in Italy and I only get to the internet so often, so I don't know how much regular help I can be.

But let me point out a few things based on what you've posted already:

The words "speed" and "Italy" don't really belong in the same paragraph. Italy is not built for speed. Its infrastructure is very slow. Yes, there are fast trains, and sometimes they work just as advertised. But not always. And the regional trains are seldom punctual.

If you can, think about spending one night in Pisa. Take the train to Firenze/Lucca, see Lucca, go to Pisa for dinner (or later) and see the Campo dei Miracoli (Torre Pendente/Leaning Tower) in the morning, head back to Rome. Be sure to go into the cathedral in Pisa while you are there.

It is going to very, very hot in the time frame you are planning to be here. Pompeii and Herculaneum will be like a furnace. If you are determined to go, bring lots of water and sun protection.

Lucca is likely to be very hot as well, and humid.

If you possibly can, toss out your ambitious sightseeing plans. A week is really not a long time in Italy. Pick the places that will mean the very most to you and linger there. You will find more than you can possibly see in a week in just a few square miles in every place you have mentioned.
zeppole is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 04:48 PM
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Jumping back to the language question, I'm a big fan of (i) using the resources of your local library and (ii) using severla different methods. For your upcoming trip, use a phrase book and phrases on CD - great to listen to during the weekday commute. For more lasting learning, try different language programs. I'm currently working my way through Pimsleur, which is oral only. I'm a very visual person, and the only way it works for me is that I supplement it with books that I have and already have a pretty good knowledge of basic grammar. Think about what kind of learner you are, or test-drive different approaches using the library materials. I do like Pimsleur because it's great for perfecting the accent and the conversational speed is more like real life.

Lexma90 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 04:52 PM
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Visit the iTunes store and download the free language learning series "My Daily Phrase" Italian. There are 100 5-minute lessons that are definttely geared to building a traveler's language. The lessons build on one another in a logical sequence. I think this series and a good phrase book, will provide what you need for a one-week visit.
ellenem is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 06:19 PM
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Agree - try to learn one not both. doing two at once will be confusing. For Norway learn about 10/12 word of general politeness (please, thank you, hello, goodbye good morning and evening etc).

In Italy you will find many people speak at least basic English unless you're really far off the tourist trail. And, there is as least one person who speaks some English almost everywhere. So learning some is a good idea - but don't angst over it.

Also, for meals get a small menu reader - which will describe the dishes - rather than just tell you if it is chicken (roast or in sauce or livers, etc). If there are a couple of things you know you don;t want, suggest you memorize them (I always remember liver and bunnies in the language of every country we go to).
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 07:00 PM
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I agree you won't need much Norwegian because so many Scandinavians have mastered English so beautifully. I disagree that trying to learn two languages at once - particularly just a little of each - is an onerous task. If you have an ear for languages you can do 10 languages at once. It's not hard - it's a function of exercising the brain and in particular the memory "muscle." You speak English fluently, don't you? No reason your brain can't get 500 words or more in a couple of other languages, too. It's made to do that.

Try out www.travlang.com or other websites where you can hear the language being spoken. For a short trip where you really will only need to "converse" at the absolutely most basic level, they will provide you with what you need - but the audio is essential. Take or study a phrase book in each language as well, and make note of things in advance that you'd like to order to eat. The rest is just trial ad error.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 31st, 2009, 09:56 AM
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Thanks for all your suggestions.
Zeppole I'm going to get together with my 'travel buddy' tonight and do some re-figuring. As much as I'd like to see, I understand that it's better to fully absorb a handful of places than glance at a hundred.
I'll also check out the Library for language sources. And Rick Steve's book has a menu guide in it, so that will be useful. The tip to learn the things you -don't- like is also a good one.

Thank you!
SamandKy is offline  
Mar 31st, 2009, 10:17 AM
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I found the Pimsleur Italian CDs to be helpful. I particularly liked that course stesses pronunciation and you can see the language structure. Each lesson is about 1/2 hour - good for listening on the way to work and reviewing on the way home. This course is more for conversation than travel, so you would want to supplement with something specific like a Berlitz quick travel CD, for trainstations, airports and such. The best part is that libraries generally have it.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Mar 31st, 2009, 10:25 AM
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I'm semi-conversant in German. For a recent trip from A'dam through Germany, Austria and Italy. I crammed on Italian before our trip. My biggest mistake was not going to Italy first. I had no problem transistioning from English to German but the second transistion to Italian was much harder (although I was regularly complimented on my Italian, I think it's only because so few travelers make any effort). I should have gone to Italy first and saved the more comfortable language for later.

To study, go to the library and check out a variety of programs, CD's and language books. Try a little of each one and keep the ones that seem to work best for you.

You can also do free online lessons at www.BBC.com/languages. They have Italian but I'm not sure about Norwegian.
bdjtbenson is offline  
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