Speaking Italian

Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 12:32 PM
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<i>You should sign up for real lessons, then. I don't think any of the online apps or software programs, except maybe Michael Thomas, is worth much. First of all, you have to be devoted to it, do the lessons, repeat them, do the exercises, follow through. A real-live class makes you do that.</i>Everyone has their own experiences, I supposed. I was able to learn enough thru Michel Thomas to handle simple interactions entirely in Italian or French.

In contrast I took a French class at a local community college, thinking a class with a native speaker was the way to go. It turned out that 2 hours once a week is nowhere near sufficient to learn, as one probably expects. I found the class frustrating, actually. You buy a book but, as people have pointed out, the pronunciation of French is not an easy thing for an English speaker to gleam from the words. In class the teacher would read thru the new vocabulary each week, saying the word once and then the class is supposed to repeat it. If you can learn a word hearing it once this is fine, but I couldn't. With a program you can rewind and listen again and again. I could see happening again what a friend way back in HS said about the Spanish class we were taking for foreign language; after 3 years we probably couldn't order a burrito in Spanish.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 01:34 PM
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<<In class the teacher would read thru the new vocabulary each week, saying the word once and then the class is supposed to repeat it. If you can learn a word hearing it once this is fine, but I couldn't.>>

miket - that sounds like poor teaching to me. I've had some very good language teachers [my first german teacher was fantastic and I'm sure she's the reason that I've always loved speaking german] and some rubbish ones. The best ones give their students numerous opportunities for practising what they are supposed to be learning in a variety of ways, so that it you never just hear or say a word once.

I do agree though that supplementing lessons with tapes, CDs, on line materials is a very good idea. - the more the better.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 02:22 PM
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One of my favorite resources that I use all the time is forvo.com, whose slogan is "All the words in the world. Pronounced." They probably haven't gotten all the words pronounced yet, but there are over 100 languages on their list.

You can look up many French or Italian (or Lakota or Samoan) words and hear them pronounced by native speakers.

If the word you want isn't on the list, you can register yourself and request that it be added. It doesn't take long in French; Samoan might take longer.

I am careful with French on this site. I check to see where the speaker is from, because a French speaker from Quebec is likely to pronounce a word differently from somebody in France.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 02:42 PM
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Ashley, I would also suggest you start out learning the sentences that we all need as visitors when making reservations, checking into hotels, ordering at restaurants, buying tickets, shopping, or asking for directions.

Trying to learn a language in detail can be discouraging, especially conjugating verbs. Pick a few useful verbs to learn in the present tense, first person singular and plural. You're going to be using "I" and "we," so something like "I do/we do, I am/we are, I have/we have, I go/we go" will get a few basics fixed in your brain.

Like ssander, I resort to some low tricks, and one of them is to find verb forms in French that are spelled the same as a word in English though the meanings are completely different. It's just a mnemonic, but I need those! Some examples: Irons is French for We will go. Aura is French for He/she/it will have. Fit is French for He made.

Whatever works for you. Bonne chance.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 04:40 PM
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I wouldn't worry too much about being able to communicate with native speakers in either country. Even after a year of learning, you may find that your oral comprehension is only fair, and that native speakers tend to speak a lot faster than you may be used to hearing in a class of beginners.

However learning a new language can be fun. Given a choice I would take a class in Italian. It is easier to learn, and has far fewer rules of pronunciation than French. While you may find conjugating verbs tedious, will help you increase your vocabulary and help you to understand the structure of the language. A good resource is 501 Italian verbs... btw this book is available in many languages.

Many public libraries have online language learning programs which are useful for beginners and tourists. they are interactive too, and the BBC has a free online language program. While they are not as good as a live class you can practice listening to the language as well as learning different phrases and words.

Although you may believe that people where you live only speak English you may find that there are others who learned a language while in school or are doing what you intend to do, and would like to be able to keep up their language skills. Perhaps when you return from your trip you could see if your local library or a community center would be interested in forming a group where you can continue to speak your new language.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 05:28 PM
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I learned Spanish the traditional way - grammar and conjugations from the beginning and while I can understand a lot it does not flow easily off my tongue.

However when I learned French they had a different system. For the first 8 weeks all we did was talk - listen and repeat and shortly do little questions and answers - to get used to the rhythm and pronunciation without having to worry about spelling. Then in week 9 we got the written version of week 1. We had already become so used to pronouncing the words and phrases - and by this time mini conversations of 3 or 4 back and forths - that adding the written part was much simpler. We spend the entire first year this way and it really made learning MUCH simpler.

By the time we got to year 2 we got much more into grammar and conjugating verbs - as well as increasing our vocabulary - but we already had the basis of the sounds and pronunciation and the dictees were easy. but it was really more like grammar in english - the correct uses just SOUNDED right - you didn't have to think once you had added the verb to your vocabulary.

to this day I speak and understand French much more easily - words and phrases just pop out and I don't think about translating and plan on what to say as I have to in Spanish.

I know my brother was taught Spanish the same way - but with records for home. I still remember the beginning of his first lesson because I heard it about a million times: "Hola Isabel, como esta? Estoy bien gracias, y tu?" And he was able to figure out very basic italian and even a little written french based on his spanish.

But I admit that even with this method some of the kids just could not get into French - and 2 in my calss had to repeat year 1.

So if this is something you really want you should definitely go for it. And agree that after you return many school districts or community colleges have conversational courses that are good for reinforcing what you know and picking up new vocab.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 11:58 PM
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The BBC guide to give you the basics is called Talk Italian 1. The BBC website has all the videos to go with that book/CD combo
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:20 AM
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<<Fit is French for He made.>>

No, that would be il a fait. Whatever works for you, for sure, but some of these "tricks" people use would never work for me. And they're often incorrect.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:45 AM
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"<<Fit is French for He made.
No, that would be il a fait."

Fit does means "he made"-. It is the passé simple of "faire"- more written than spoken language but still...........
"Il a fait" is the passé composé. Also means "he made".
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:48 AM
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rather like Ohio meaning good morning in Japanese,
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 02:07 AM
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However when I learned French they had a different system. For the first 8 weeks all we did was talk - listen and repeat and shortly do little questions and answers - to get used to the rhythm and pronunciation without having to worry about spelling. >>

nyt - that's exactly what I was talking about. OK it sounds as if both the system and the teacher were good, but good teaching is the key to language learning [and probably every other sort of learning too!]

fortunately Italian doesn't have the same pronunciation and spelling problems as french [and english] but a good teacher will definitely help.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 03:49 AM
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Passé simple is beautiful.
'Il fit ses adieux et nous ne le revîmes plus.'
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:21 AM
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Yes, I know fit is the passé simple or litéraire, but this is a discussion about learning to converse in French and Italian. It would sound either silly or snooty to use the passé simple in spoken French.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 09:13 AM
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I think it's more the system than the quality of the teaching - but of course, a quality teacher will always help a lot.

The benefit of verbal only at first is that the phrases and sentences become automatic - so you're not really translating - they just pop into your mind (as when a small child is learning their native language - no one tries to teach then grammar at first).
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 09:38 AM
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snooty ?

fi, très chère, il eut été de bon ton de signaler que le passé simple n'est absolument pas snobinard, vous m'en voyez marri !

It is absolutely impossible to speak or read using the passé simple without making fun of it... too bad actiually.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 10:10 AM
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Do you use the passé simple in speaking, B? I've never known anyone who did, but I think it would come across as rather bizarre. We have a whole series of children's books here at home that, surprising to me, use the passé simple, but in speaking? Which was the subject of this thread. I have no problem with the passé simple - it's beautiful and I hope it never dies out, as it might, but it's of relatively little use to anyone wanting to learn to speak French. Non? For those who want to read, yes, it's essential, but for the average Americain wanting to learn spoken French, realistically it's just not going to happen.And I never, ever hear it spoken by the French themselves. I hear Occitan often, but not the Passé simple, unless someone is doing a reading.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 10:45 AM
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I picked up Italian words... from the opera: Dove (from Figaro), Cuanto?
(from Tosca.) From experience: chiuso. From necessity: toilet. -

I recently saw a video of the actor Colin Firth (who's married to an Italian) being interviewed in Italian. Sounded good to me. However, the comments on the video were mostly from Italians who said his accent was atrocious but his vocabulary was magnificent.

I really envy those of you who who can experience a culture through its language.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:18 PM
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St C - I've visited France countless times, and even managed to converse with some real French people but I've never heard the passé simple either, let alone used it. Interestingly [to some of us] it is used more in spoken Italian, particularly in the south I understand, and much more in Spanish where they use it like we do in english - I came, I saw, I conquered etc. [I say "they" advisedly, I never managed to get my head round it!]

Gwendolynn - I bet you understand a lot more than you think. I've not heard Mr Firth speak italian - I'll look out for him.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 02:45 PM
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annhig, I found the video….. but not the comments.
http://smilingeggplant.blogspot.com/...s-italian.html
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 02:47 AM
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Is the <em>passé simple</em> the equivalent of the preterite tense in Spanish? In high school Spanish we were taught that this is used for action that began and ended in the past at a specific time.

I have noticed that my daughter-in-law (for whom Spanish is a first language) uses it regularly with my 2-year-old grandson...so I assume it is fairly common in conversational Spanish.

When she asks if he is finished doing something, she says, "Terminaste?" Are you finished? in second person (informal) preterite.

(I'm not trying to hijack this thread and turn it into a grammar discussion, but it does interest me.)

sander
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