Italian Language Instruction

Old Dec 17th, 1997, 12:40 PM
Joe Constantino
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Italian Language Instruction

Looking for recomendations on self instruction (tapes) Italian language programs for beginners. Local book stores have considerable variety in stock - however have no knowledge as to content or quality. We are leaving early spring for three weeks in Italy and would like to to learn some basic conversational italian.

Old Dec 18th, 1997, 02:29 AM
Debbie C.
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I've been using and learning Italian with 2 different tape series by Berlitz. I called our local Berlitz in San Diego, and stopped by for a visit and spoke with them. I use one tape in my car, I forgot it's exact name, but something like "Traveler's Italian". It's a 90 min. tape of simple words and typical phrases that a traveler might find useful.I think it's great. I also am using Berlitz'z "Basic Italian" series. It's just a 3 tape series with a book. Their concept is to first listen to simple conversational exchanges in lessons, repeat phrases and words to get the "feel" and then follow and learn by reading the matching book lesson with simple grammer lesson explainations. It's a good combination. I've seen the Berlitz travelers series in Barnes and Noble.
I've herd from others that "Learn in YOur Car" is a good series, also.
Old Dec 18th, 1997, 04:25 AM
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I purchased a language tape program, with a phrase textbook included, for my spouse for Xmas. It sounds very much like the one in the above post. The name is Living Language, and it is the program used to give government dignitaries and military personnel a working use of a foreign language before their trips abroad. We're planning on using the tapes in the car and to maybe have a "Gay Paree" night once a week, where we only speak French during our dinner hour at home. Should make for some interesting conversations! This program is available for many
Old Dec 19th, 1997, 06:43 AM
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Buon giorno!

So you want to learn Italian before going on your trip. BRAVO! You will not only enrich yourselves, but also, enjoy your trip that much better, regardless of how much you actually learn to speak, read and understand. A few basic phrases are a must, and the more you know and communicate, the more the Italian people will LOVE you for it.

Don't be afraid to make some mistakes--the Italians in the smaller vilages will love you for it, the vendors and shop keepers might actually give you a better price on their wares, but the WAITERS will probably roll their eyeballs in the sockets of their heads in complete abhorance and disbelief . . .

Now which porgram to use. That is the $64.00 question. You didn't mention if you have learned a foreign language before or if this was your first try at it. Believe it or not, your age also has a lot to do with learning a language. And then, some people are more gifted in learning another tonuge than others. There are a variety of approaches from the audio-lengual--your learn by imitating and repeating, never getting any grammar nor reading a word of the language, to the old grammar drill, write and memorize routine. Some people are audio learners, others must see--i.e., READ--and others are action orientated learners. These must see, hear, and write the language down in order to learn. One of the factors involved in each approach is IMITATION. You must say the word ALOUD and not just think the word out. You will never learn to speak the language if you do not repeat ALOUD. And also no matter which program you try, it is most important that you practice several times a day for 10-15 " rather than once or twice a week for several hours.

The best of all approaches would be to immerse yourself in the language--cut yourself off completely from any English. Probably an improbablility!

I have used to my satisfaction, the Pimsleur System a language series from SyberVision to learn German. It is a series of 15-16 cassettes, and has two or three separate cassete series you can purchase.

If you have a multi-media computer, there are
programs on CD rom which are inter-active. You need to have speakers and a microphone in order to accomplish the lessons, which range from games which are like the old game of concentration, to comic strip style readings, etc. Some of these programs are from The Living Language by Syracuse Language systems, Berlits: Think and Talk from The Learning Company; The Transparent Language series: Italian Now! and Expert language series. All of them have some value and worth as instructional materials. There are othrs of course, but I have not heard nor thried them.

Barrons has a complete first course with several cassettes and a work book call Contatti. I do not know for sure if Sunset has an Italian course that is like their Spanish/German and French in 10 minutes a day series. This can be purchased with or without four cassetes which go along with the small workbook.

That about does it for what I know regarding language series. There are several sites on the inter-net that will give you an elementary exposure to foreign languages. You might want to try looking at those sites: The Human-Language page and

You might also check inot the possiblity of taking Italian from a private tutor or enrolling in an Italian language class at a college or univeristy. Their are some courses offered fthat can be done at home.


Old Dec 19th, 1997, 08:34 AM
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I spent about 2 1/2 months using tapes commuting in my car and when doing mindless tasks at home to prep for a trip in October. There is an endless array of choices in the big bookstores so I looked for two things - were the tapes geared for vacationers (as opposed to business) and minutes of tape per cost. I bought two and was pleased with them both. First was Barron's, Italian on the Go. Mainly repeating conversations - which are very humorous and engaging (3 hours of tape). Second I bought All-Audio Italian by Living Language - 6 hours of tape. This one was more academic and probably a little better instructionally. The main drawback of this one was a very poor instruction book/dictionary. The time spent was not only fun, but had a big payback during my vacation. Good luck
Old Dec 27th, 1997, 06:31 AM
Mary Todd
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Hi. My experience will not be much help but you may get a laugh out of it. I tried to learn Italian with the tapes. I already knew some Italian also. We were in a resturant in Rome one Saturday and were getting poor service. I tried calling the waiter both in English and Italian. Finally I remembered how an Italian friend of mine once called a waiter and got good service from there on. I used the word I remembered and got 2 waiters! I was very proud of myself and did all of the ordering in Italian. I noticed the waiter who was waiting on us wasn't very nice but did a very good job. A younger waiter was in the back of the resturant looking at me and laughing. When we got back to our hotel I asked our tour director why he was laughing. Seems I used a wrong word and cursed at the guy! Have a great time.

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