Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

What's the best program to learn just a little Italian?

What's the best program to learn just a little Italian?

Aug 20th, 2004, 01:36 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,341
What's the best program to learn just a little Italian?

We're planning to go to Italy next year and I know absolutely no Italian. I'm not looking to be able to carry on conversations, just the usual things a visitor needs to know (the usual pleasantries, ordering in a restaurant, asking directions, etc.). I don't think it helps to be able to ask a question in Italian if you won't understand the answer! I was looking at Barnes & Noble, and they had CD's by Berlitz or Barron's. Anyone familiar with these, or is there something even better? Thanks!
SusanP is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 01:40 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 268
I used "Learn in your Car" series. I did it with French, Italian and Spanish. I did the Italian twice and learned it so well, I get it confused with Spanish now (which I had five years of in high school plus mega-advanced levels of Learn in your car).

(Oh, and usually if you ask in Italian, they very politely answer you in English. They appreciate the effort though.)

~gnr~
gnrbernstein is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 02:04 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,510
I'm a big fan of Pimsleur language courses- on CDs or cassettes.

They carry the introductory courses at Barnes & Noble now.
marcy_ is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 02:18 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 18
I'm also using the Learn in you Car CDs for my upcoming trip (in 2 weeks). It's really a good, easy, and fun program, and I actually feel confident that I can communicate whatever I may need to. However, once someone starts rattling off in Italian, I'll be completely lost, but I know I can get my point across, including asking them to parle lentemente. I'm in my car a lot for work, so this has been ideal!
anaheimhills7719 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 02:33 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
Berlitz Rush Hour Italian

And everybody, everywhere appreciates it if you even try to communicate in their language.
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 02:40 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,341
Thanks for the input. Yes, I know everyone appreciates it if you try their language, that's why I want to learn a little. I know some French and always used as much as possible in Paris. I had one young clerk who said he wanted to practice his English and asked ME to speak more slowly (in English)!
SusanP is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 02:43 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,066
We're going to Italy next month, and I purchased one of the Pimsleur series. It was the Italian in 10 days. It was very good, 10 30 minute lessons, and I like the method a lot. That particular series tought many things that I didn't think were helpful for tourists, but I did learn many basics. Try that one or one of the other Pimsleur series they make especially for Barnes & Noble--they are cheaper than the full Pimsleur course. I use this in conjunction with a phrase book (I got the Rick Steves book, which I find to be excellent) so I can beef up my vocabulary. 4 weeks left--I better go study.
almesq is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 04:51 PM
  #8  
KDN
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 8
I would recommend the "Getting By in Italian" tapes by Barron's Educational Series. I borrowed them from my local library.
I listened in the car. They give you the basics that a tourist would need to know, i.e. buying train tickets, ordering in a pub or restaurant, asking (and understanding) directions, numbers, etc.
I also used this series for French and Japanese. I was quite pleased that I was able to handle many common transactions.
KDN is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 04:56 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,766
I have the whole Pimsleur course in French (90 30-minute lessons) and they are terrific. I imagine the Italian would be just as good, and you could do a shorter version, as mentioned.
Sue4 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 05:52 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 771
For some basics, you can go to travlang.com. You'll get the basic words, questions, names, numbers, etc. and you can hear (if you turn on your speakers) how words are pronounced. I'm terrible at languages and, frankly, don't want to spend a whole lot of time learning a new language. A little trick I use is to copy the words into Word, print, clip and paste onto an index card. That way I can pull out the card and speak, sorta
nancy is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 06:08 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,602
Susan-having learned enough Italian by reading through the Living Language books to test into an intermediate Italian language class in Florence, I would recommend this series-both in Italian and in French-I and others I know who are into self-taught language courses like this company.
Spygirl is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 09:25 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,531
Another vote for "Getting by in Italian". I used it for my honeymoon eight years ago and it did indeed allow me to get by. The same series in Portugese also did the trick five years ago.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 09:37 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,204
I've been using the Pimsleur in Spanish and like them--also use several others, but like Pimsleur best. You can probably check them out of the library.

I don't, however, use them in the car...but I guess that helps explain some of the driving out there (LOL).
artlover is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 03:26 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 186
just a little italian? watch the godfather. but seriously now, you only need to learn italian if you want it to be part of your travel experience. In roman museums information was in italian& english.in shops/resturants they understood english. The passport control officers spoke english at the airport. the trenitialia people spoke english. english speaking acotral staff showed me how the ticket machine worked in the rome metro. the venetian gondoliers spoke english. even the circumvesuviana people in Naples spoke english. A very tourist friendly country.

Sam
got1tiel is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 03:47 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,117
Susan: Here's one no one else has mentioned: "Michel Thomas--Italian". I used his French CDs before my trip to France and was amazed at how much I learned...with no textbook and no lessons or exercises. He starts with very basic phrases and builds on that foundation. Within a 1/2 hour you will find yourself speaking in sentences. It's amazing!

They're expensive (around $60, used, on Ebay for the 8 CD version). But I filled out the form at my library and they bought it! I just checked it out.

As I did in French, I will listen to each CD all the way through. Then I will repeat it over and over until I'm thoroughly comfortable before I move on to the next CD. As I got about 1/2 way through the French program, I began to supplement with other books and tapes specifically aimed at travellers. I found I was able to insert new words and phrases into the framework I'd learned in the Michel Thomas program.

Footnote: One phrase I practiced carefully: "My French is very poor, but could you please tell me __________?". The French appreciated the humility and always slowed down and helped me understand the answer.
JeanneB is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 04:41 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 135
I found this internet site helpful: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/italian/index.shtml.
mebanese is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 06:18 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,019
To mebanese: I just logged onto the web site you suggested. IMO it is a terrific learning tool for a novice learning a foreign language. Easy to navigate and lots of words/phrases for practial usage when traveling.
i_am_kane is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 07:39 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
Even though you absolutely can get around the big cities in English, it is far more fun to try a bit of Italian. Italians are very helpful and tolerant of your interest in learning, and are excellent teachers. (They correct you gently and warmly, and will speak slowly and clearly like they might to a child...it's a great way to learn.) AND if you go to small towns or shops that locals frequent, you may well need a little Italian. Besides, Italian is a beautiful language and fun to learn.

Pimsleur is hands-down best for pronunciation and inflection, but they are oriented to people who will use at least the first 30 lessons. I found their 8 lesson CDs don't move fast enough for just a few lessons in tourist-survival Italian. BUT you can combine a short Pimsleur set with another more tourist oriented set-- or even a book-- and get the benefits of both.
tashak is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 08:27 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,341
Thanks for all this information. Seems as though there are plenty of decent programs to choose from. I'll also check out those websites. And Sam, yes, I DO want it as part of the travel experience. I think knowing a little of the language does enhance your trip.
SusanP is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 08:41 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,355
Hi Susan, I checked out my local community college's continuing education program and found a beginner and slightly more advanced class in "Italian for travellers". It was relatively inexpensive, helped me learn some basics and I also met a bunch of people also planning trips to Italy, since the class was mostly all travellers. Sometimes this can be better since you're actually speaking with other people. I also used the Berlitz CD's but found the class much more helpful.
tpatricco is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:41 AM.