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How should I learn (very basic!) Italian?

How should I learn (very basic!) Italian?

Nov 4th, 2010, 09:37 AM
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Given what you've said you require, "Italian for Dummies" should be OK.
k9korps is offline  
Nov 4th, 2010, 09:49 AM
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MoonGirl, thank you, I love those links!!
Dayenu is offline  
Nov 4th, 2010, 10:07 AM
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I think for "just" a trip to Italy, you don't need to get into conjugating verbs and all the tenses, which is what a Rosetta Stone or something like a Berlitz set of discs is going to get you. You need survival phrases: asking, answering and clarifying. I was a Spanish minor myself about 20 years ago and picked Italian up very easily. They sound so similar but are written quite differently...like "Como esta -- estoy bien" in Spanish vs. "Come sta -- sto bene" in Italian. I think if you listened to the podcasts you'd be just fine. They are directed at people just in this type of situation!
amyb is online now  
Nov 4th, 2010, 11:46 AM
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Dayenu, I'm glad you pointed out those links - somehow I missed the very important gelato one the first time!

amyb, survival phrases are definitely the focus. If I get to conjugating verbs, well, fabulous. It would be nice to have a real conversation with someone should the occasion call for it, but I don't see myself stressing out about it. The podcasts do sound perfect.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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You don't need to have a conversation. Like the gelatto example. I know my Italian would not be sufficient to be asking about the flavors, how much it costs, one scoop or two. But I guarantee you I could get the transaction done... smiling, pointing, holding up 1 or 2 fingers, whatever it took. I know it's not ideal, but no ones going to become fluent/conversational in 6 months of study. BUT you will be able to get by, better understand what's going on around you, be polite.
suze is offline  
Nov 4th, 2010, 01:22 PM
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Oh yes - that's definitely the main goal. I just meant that if I happened to get to the point to where I could have an actual conversation on the level of a preschooler, well, that'd be fantastic. I took seven years of high school and college Spanish and still couldn't hold an adult conversation with a native speaker, so I have no illusions about my ability to be fluent in six months!
jent103 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2010, 03:27 PM
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Right now my biggest concern is that I'll subconsciously revert to saying "hola" and asking for "dos" of something instead of "due"; I'm not sure that would go over well>>

don't worry about that at all. on our first night in Rome, we sat next to a mexican couple in a restaurant whose tactic was the shout at the waiters in spanish, and that was fine. and on our recent visit to Seville, i found i was reverting to Italian and they either didn't mind, or were too polite to mention it!

the trick, as Michel Thomas says, is to get the ball over the net.

BTW, IMHO courses that just teach you "useful phrases" might just as well be called "useless phrases". without understanding why you are saying something, you'll never remember it. we had a BBC one for learning Polish and it was a waste of time.
annhig is offline  
Nov 4th, 2010, 06:44 PM
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Thanks, annhig - that's reassuring! At least I won't get run out of the country.
jent103 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2012, 06:05 PM
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In addition to the BBC free online course, check and see if your public library has any basic online language courses, or cds that you can borrow.
maxima is offline  
Oct 24th, 2012, 07:54 PM
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maxima, I think the OP may have already learned and forgotten all that they learned by now.

But I was still going to suggest michel thomas speak italian

LSky is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 08:35 AM
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LSky - it was Michel Thomas that got me started with italian - I've now done AS level [not boasting of course] and in February I'm going back to Italy to do another language course in Rome.

i can't speak too highly of his approach.
annhig is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 10:17 AM
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The OP had very grand intentions which never left the intention stage. She did, however, have an excellent trip to Italy regardless (the Spanish minor helped tremendously!). She would still like to learn a bit of Italian by the next, currently unplanned, trip, and will file this thread away for whenever the time comes.
jent103 is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 11:05 AM
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jent - new to our italian conversation class this year is a young man who speaks fluent spanish and catalan. his italian grammar is a bit ropey [well, no ropier than mine, actually] but his vocabulary is excellent.
annhig is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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annhig, I love Michel Thomas. I have taken many Spanish classes over the years and speak fairly decent Spanish. Recently I found his Spanish CDs at the library and knowing how much German I can speak because of him, I gave the Spanish a try.

I'm impressed. I called a friend the other day and was comfortable speaking quite a bit on the telephone. For me, that's always difficult.
LSky is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 12:03 PM
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I've never come across another orally based language learning method that actually teaches the grammar in a structured way as you go along. I find that, and the repetition, the most useful parts of the courses.
annhig is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 06:59 PM
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Pimsleur complete course 30 lessions each level, each 30 minutes long, is excellent for learning to pronounce Italian and for a small but slightly eccentric vocabulary, mostly oriented toward work situations. Nice to do on your walk or your way to work though. I used it for Spanish also. Really helps to make you familiar with the sound of the language. Got it out of my library and downloaded the whole thing to my computer. I then went on to study Italian at my local Italian Culture Institute in Westwood near UCLA. It's actually not an easy language but a lot of fun if you have the time. I think you have to live somewhere to be fluent unless you have the discipline to immerse yourself at home. Any self-taught language course only takes you to advanced beginner at most IMO. For a trip, Barron's has a good little phrase book called "Italian Visual Language Guide" that has words grouped in various themes with pictures for each word. Just show an Italian the book and point at the photo! Quite useful and entertaining. Italians are pretty kind anyway. They are happy if you know even a few words--buongiorno (good morning) signora/signore, buona sera (good afternoon/evening), Grazie (thanks), Piacere (pleased to meet you). Buon viaggio a tutti! (Have a good trip everyone!)
samoca is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 08:15 PM
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I've tried pimsleur but I prefer M. Thomas. It's fun because by the end of the 1st cd you are speaking a useful phrase. Not just "hello my name is..."
LSky is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 11:58 PM
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I'm Italian. Can I help you somehow ?
olivella is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 04:57 AM
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I've just bought this - a universal language app for Luddites:


Just have to practice page-flicking faster!
bendigo is offline  

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