Learning Italian

Old Nov 12th, 2007, 03:07 PM
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Learning Italian

Wondering if someone could recommend a CD set to learn Italian based on what I'm looking for. I am planning on being in Italy for almost a week and a half and while I've gotten away with using only English, I want to make an attempt to speak the language (plus I always found reading menus to be the most difficult, so I want to know the words for various foods!).

I've been searching previous posts for recommendations, but some are not an option for me (for example, too expensive).

Here's along the lines of what I am looking for:

1. To spend no more than $100 USD (I'm in grad school and cannot afford more than that), I am interesting in having my own versus using the library's copy

2. We don't have a Cosco by me (I've noticed numerous recommendations for their CD set, but this isn't an option for me). Along those lines, has anyone ever ordered from Amazon or sites along those lines? Did you find a good deal and a good program or do you scarifice quality for price?

3. I would like BOTH audio and visual elements (my aunt and I are learning together, I am more of a visual learner, she is not, and we want a CD with good accents so we don't completely butcher this wonderful language!)

4. I have from now until Mid-May to learn

5. Any recommendations of places to practice Italian? Eg. websites to practice writing, movie/CD recommendations, etc.

Thanks everyone! (Goodness, I don't know what I would do without this website!!!)

Also, I've noticed 8 CD and 4 CD sets, while down the road I do plan on taking a course at the university, right now I just want basic conversational pieces, directions, numbers/times, and ordering/food.
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 03:17 PM
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Rosetta Stone has a three month online subscription for $109.95.
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Old Nov 12th, 2007, 04:15 PM
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I don't know the CDs for learning Italian, but it would surprise me a great deal if they were much help in ordering food. Yes, I'm sure they'll tell you what the most common dishes and ingredients are, but I doubt that they'll be much help in deciphering a complete menu. Italian food is very regional; many dishes that you will find in Rome you will not find in Venice.

The two menu guides most often recommended are
The Marling Menu-Master for Italy
Eating & Drinking in Italy by Herbach & Dillon
Both are available from Amazon.
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 04:48 PM
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The BBC has free web-based language lessons (including Italian).
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 05:02 PM
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I've found a combination of methods works for me. I'm primarily a visual learner, and need to know the grammar behind the words I'm pronouncing. So I use a more written approach, as well as CDs (loaded on my iPod, so I can take it anywhere) and cassette tapes (so I can listen to the cassettes or the iPod in the car).

I use a variety of CDs/tapes, too. That helps with the boredom. Also, I can work on pronounciation or grammar, then when I'm tired of that, listen to a "Italian for Travelers" that includes more of the phrases I'm likely to need.

I agree that even the most in-depth language program doesn't spend a huge amount of time on more than the basic words (chicken, turkey, apple, banana). Words like gallina (rooster) you'll find in the two menu translation books you see above. So some of it you'll end up learning as you go. Also, I'm a big foodie, so read up on the foods of the region I'm going to visit (even cookbooks, sometimes). That way, I'm familiar with the items I'm most likely to see on a menu in that area.
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 05:05 PM
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Pimsleur has a "Quick and SImple" set that has about 8 30 minute lessons. They also have large 30 CD sets, I,II, II that go into more detail. You can check on the web and sometimes find some good deals.
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 07:01 PM
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No Costco? Check EBay.
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 08:05 PM
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See if your university book store has "In giro per l'Italia." The text is used at a number of universities for entry-level Italian. Get the text and workbook. There's also a web site that lets you hear individual words and text and provides tests.
I also used Rosetta Stone and found it useful for hearing Italian in everyday conversations. However, I found the later lessons were thrown together without much thought. Also, you get NO sense of grammatical structure. So, you build up vocabulary but do not gain an understanding of the verbs and tenses, which are essential to using Italian as distinct from parroting back menu selections or making a reservation.
The BBC and RAI both have web sites with Italian language sections. Those were useful. I particularly liked the BBC site for learning some Italian slang. Also, see if there are groups in your area that get together to speak Italian. The site meetup.com provides such listings. Buona fortuna!
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 10:23 PM
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My "Italian Phrases for Dummies" is about 9 dollars, and it's WONDERFUL. The whole series is great. My local Chinese restaurant owner is really impressed with my book-learned Chinese from the same series. For a CD, I'd recommend something that has a workbook that you can follow. Pimsleur gets pretty good ratings, and I personally have 3 Living Language programs for Japanese, French and Spanish. But the "Italian Phrases for Dummies?" A must-have. I couldn't recommend it more.
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Old Nov 13th, 2007, 04:18 AM
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Check out learnitalianpod.com. I subscribed for a couple of months and thought it was helpful.

I found using a combination of CD' (Berlitz, Pimsler, For Dummies), and a good dictionary worked well for me, so I used the library. I also found it interesting that some common phrases were a little different in various CD's.
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Old Nov 13th, 2007, 12:10 PM
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Hi all,

Thanks for the tips--I think I'm going to try a combination of all of them.

PJSMART--Thanks for the tip on the Italian book to search for in Uni. bookstores--I work at a University so I'll check our bookstore right away.

Thanks for all the tips on the freebies and discounted CD's--this is a HUGE help!

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Old Nov 13th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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don't be too haar don yourself - I speak some Italian....and never can go to a restaurant without a dictonary...well...I can and do...but then I have to flag down the waiter and have them tell me what everything is!! Menus are hard!! (they change SO quickly from region to region...and even town to town!)
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Old Nov 13th, 2007, 02:41 PM
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Lexma90, a gallina is a hen, not a rooster!
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