Signed up for an Italian class!!

Nov 19th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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Signed up for an Italian class!!

Nope, not looking for a medal, just wondering if anyone else has done this - how much can I realistically expect to learn?

I am a college administrator and am taking the course for one semester (did I mention free - free is wonderful!) My 2nd trip to Italy isn't until next Septmber, so if I get lucky I can talke ITA II over summer.

Should I aim to learn conversational Italian, or more of the formal rules to build upon?

Happy Travels... K

travelphile is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 02:17 PM
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Bravissimo! spero che imparerai in fretta questa bella lingua!
Ciao da Batuffolina
BATUFFOLINA is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 02:20 PM
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My results from all the language classes I have taken for various languages, whether in university or elsewhere, are not stellar. However, these classes certainly do help with reading. But I've often wished that when people spoke, you could see subtitled comic-style balloons above their heads, because the discrepancy between my spoken and written competency is so striking. So I'd definitely focus on speaking. I took a conversational Italian class earlier this year and I thought the language itself is fairly easy. But understanding the spoken word is another matter.
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 02:20 PM
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learn the grammar it will help you to undrstand what people are saying. you can learn stock expressions but when someone asks a question then the fun begins. also learn verbs in the preseent,past and future tenses doing thois will allow you to understand much of a sentence even if you do not know all the words. attens several conversational clesses if possibe it all helps
petertherabbitt is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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I took one semester of Italian when in college. After the course, speaking was not a problem, understanding the responses is harder. After or during the course, watch Italian movies without the subtitles on. Rewind and watch several times if necessary and only turn on the subtitles if you totally loose the plot. That really helped. Also, conversation groups helps. A group of Italian Proffs and lecturers invited anyone to join them for lunch twice a week when everyone only spoke in Italian. That was very useful too.
ssachida is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 02:56 PM
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You'll probably learn the more academic basics in the college class, and that's good. You'll learn the structure of the language. You'll learn to write grammatically, and that will make it easier for you to think in Italian and formulate sentences quickly. then if you want more conversational practice, amybe you can take an Italian class in adult school. They tend to be more casual and conversational. Or you can look for informal opportunities at the university, e.g., maybe there's an Italian table in the student cafeteria, where no English is allowed. Or, since you're on the faculty, maybe you can chat with the Italian professors.
This was a really good move, I think. If you continue in the summer, uou won't lose what you learned, and then once you get to Italy, it will all fall into place and you'll get more confident. Have fun.
cmt is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 03:03 PM
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My theory: it is all a question of age.

I am in my early 50s and nowadays I cannot retain ONE word in a new language. Tried Twi, Ebe (W. Africa), Swedish, Magyarol (Hungarian). Can't even retain "good morning".

But in early 2004 I went back to Italy for the first time since the 70s.

I spent 9 months in Italy -- studied Italian about 6 months -- in 1973-4.
Since then I have only occasionally -- no, make that "rarely" -- watched a bit of Canadian Italian TV ("Tarzan", dubbed into Italian, or those incredible Brazilian period soap-operas that they also dub into Italian)

Within a day I was PERFECTLY at home, dragging subjunctives easily out of my sub-conscious. People said "But you lived here several years, surely" --and meant it.

Hard-wired at an early age -- short-circuiting today.
tedgale is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 03:06 PM
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Rather than follow up with 102 in the summer I'd suggest a conversational class geared for travelers before your trip in the fall.

Granted I am not a great student of languages but try & try again, I do. I have found I learned more useful and easily applicable words & phrases in classes meant for travel, than in college-level Spanish 101. Certainly learning the structure, grammar, verbs, etc. must be done to master a language but it didn't help me much on-the-go in Mexico.

Definitely (as suggested above) watch movies, TV, listen to the radio and songs in Italian. I found this very useful for both Spanish and French to develop "the ear" (I can't say much but what I do sounds pretty good!).
suze is online now  
Nov 19th, 2004, 03:24 PM
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Two semesters of college Italian should get you all the way through a first-year Italian textbook. That will be more than enough grammar for purposes of basic conversations while travelling. For example, you probably won't be ridiculed if you can't faultlessly use or precisely translate the pluperfect subjunctive (il trapassato del congiuntivo) in casual conversation! (Or, at least, I haven't been ridiculed for it. Yet.)

As others have done, I suggest that you do what you can to practice and to build your vocablulary.

This may be peripheral to your desires, but I've recently found a grammar reference that I really like. Actually, I found a simpler one that I liked a while back (Italian Grammar by Marcel Danesi), but now I'm happy with Soluzioni! by Denise de Rome. It concentrates on the points that are useful for speaking idomatically, and it answers some of those weird little questions that can prey on the mind of the more grammar-minded when they should be doing something useful. Of course, grammar books, like travel books, are very much a matter of personal taste, but I just thought I'd share.
KT is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 04:18 PM
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I'm not sure I understand your question about what you should aim to learn: a conversational Italian course would be very different from a beginner-level course that starts out with a basic understanding of the grammar and structure and vocabulary. So what kind of course did you sign up for?

Italian is one of the most regular, and therefore easy, romance languages. It goes without saying that you won't become even remotely fluent in one semester, but there is a good chance you can absorb enough to make your way around Italy with the ability to converse with people about everyday things, make purchases, follow signs, order in restaurants, etc. But a solid understanding of the grammar of Italian will serve you a lot better than some conversation class where the aim is to memorize "traveler Italian."

One thing to remember: Italians speak quickly. Even with 8 years of Italian uner my belt when I first got to Italy I thought to myself everyone was on speed. Listen to Italian news if you get it to get a sense of the pace of the language. And you might take a side course in gesticulation - Italians almost speak two languages at once, one with the mouth and the other with their hands and face.
StCirq is online now  
Nov 19th, 2004, 04:36 PM
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In response to the above post by StCirq (not doiagreeing, just adding something): I found it very disconcerting in northern Italy--real north, i.e. the lakes, not central Italy--that many of the locals did NOT gesticulate at all, and a disturbing number of them also did not make eye contact. To me it came across as alsmot rude, or at the vey least, strangely disengaged. Oddly enough, the topic of Italian gesticulating came up (in English) on a thread in the AboutCom Italian language forum. I learned there that many northern Italians and Italian Swiss consider "talking with the hands" to be rude or boorish, and very pointed eye contact is not considered desirable either in polite social interactions. (So I guess it follows that they must consider central and especially southern Italians rude.) It's interesting that this rather immobile way of conversing, which they apparently think is very classy, made the opposite effect on me.
cmt is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 04:37 PM
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not disagreeing--terrible typist and didn't proofread
cmt is offline  
Nov 20th, 2004, 01:48 PM
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I'm on my third year, speaking, reading, and writing and still making my share of mistakes. And still having a great time with it.

I think you would be well served at first by just learning some good basic grammar and then focusing on conversational italian until you see how much of a commitment you feel comfortable with. You can go quite far and enjoy yourself alot that way.

Try to practice and as others suggested, rent movies and look for chances to use what you are learning. Congratulations, it's a wonderful journey!

re hand gestures, that;s very interesting to hear the different ways it is used and looked upon in Italy.
A Sicilian friend of mine brought me a wonderful book of hand gestures from that region, which remains a favorite of mine...
bellastar is offline  
Nov 20th, 2004, 02:39 PM
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You'll have so much fun. I had time to finish nearly 3 quarters of college Italian before my first trip and it made a huge difference in the quality of my experience. That said, I was in no way conversational but I was much more aware of what was going on around me.
Grasshopper is offline  
Nov 20th, 2004, 04:21 PM
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I don't know if it is an option, but my experience has been that staying with a local family as opposed to a hotel increases learning and retention dramatically. At 55, I started Spanish. Guatemala, Costa Rica, Spain. Always stayed with a family and the experience is wonderful. The cultural aspects are obvious but the 24 hour chance [read requirement] to use the language is really a powerful learning experience. [tho at night, your brain is exhausted]. If it is an option, take it!
weber6560 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 05:20 PM
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Thanks for the tips/hints/suggestions.

I'm new to the college I work for - so I'm not sure of the offerings/how many Italian professors there are, if they do informal meetings to enhance the class experience - but I definitely will be watching movies - I hadn't thought of that as such a great self-learing tool.

When we went to Italy the first time, we were surprised by how much of our HS Spanish came back - so we did ok while we were there. My reasoning for taking the class is simply to futher enhance our travels, seems like from the views here that will happen to some extent!

Thanks again - Kristy

PS - very crafty Batuffolina, I could get the gist, but I did cheat and use a translation site!
travelphile is offline  
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