How to Learn Italian

I’ve always wanted to know how to learn Italian. My mom is East Coast Italian (lol – Jersey). I grew up fully engulfed in American Italian culture. The screaming being the normal volume for general conversation. The debating over dinner plans at literally 8 in the morning. When my husband and I took our first ever trip to Italy togetherI fell in love.With Italy. LOL. Not my now husband.

As someone with frequent anxiety and digestion problems, Italy was the first place that I ever traveled to where I experienced nothing but pure bliss. And great digestion to boot (despite the fact that I was dabbling in plenty of dairy and carbs, no less). Italy was a beautiful experience for me. Italian, a language I knew I’d want to learn more about.

I’m definitely that person who has “become bilingual” on my bucket list. 2020 shook a lot of us to our cores. To me – it was a reminder that life is short. So if something is on my bucket list – what am I waiting for?

So here’s me. On my journey to learn Italian. And I figure there’s a big group of ya’ll out there also wondering how to learn Italian. So this one’s for you!

Find out how to learn Italian - no gimmicks! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels highlights how to learn Italian efficiently while keeping it fun.

Find out how to learn Italian - no gimmicks! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels highlights how to learn Italian efficiently while keeping it fun.

How to learn Italian.

Think about what kind of learner you are.

Your learning style will greatly impact how you retain languages you study. For example, if you learn better with visual clues rather than auditory, you may want to use flashcards to reinforce languages. Being aware of your learning style will help you absorb information more efficiently – and hopefully get you speaking Italian faster!

Spatial (visual).

Visual learners learn best with visual cues. From flashcards to pictures to movies – anything visual will help this type of learner absorb and retain lessons. If you’re a spatial learner, I definitely recommend picking up some pre-made Italian flashcards and picture books. You might feel a little silly breaking open an Italian children’s book with few words and many pictures – but I guarantee you’ll learn that much quicker. Spatial learners may also retain more information by watching videos, such as Italian instructional videos on YouTube.

Auditory (aural).

Auditory learners learn best from hearing. These are the students that wouldn’t miss a lecture if their life depended on it. If you’re an auditory learner, you may want to look for study materials that involve sound (such as audio lessons, audiobooks, and podcasts).

Linguistic (verbal).

Verbal learners learn best by speaking themselves. If you’re a linguistic learner, you might learn languages best chatting with native speakers or repeating lessons aloud to yourself. Verbal learners also may retain languages best by singing along to songs in the language of choice. Anything verbal!

Kinesthetic (physical).

Physical learners use muscle memory. Drawing or writing is an amazing way for Kinesthetic learners to absorb and retain information. From taking notes to doodling out depictions of lessons, kinesthetic learners benefit from physical movement and action.

Mathematical (logical).

Logical learners use analysis. These learners absorb information best with statistical analysis, puzzles, visual cues, and projects.

Interpersonal (social).

Social learners learn best with others. Think study groups, book clubs, online study groups, classroom settings, etc. Socializing for interpersonal learners often results in better retention of the subject matter at hand.

Intrapersonal (solitary).

Solitary learners learn best on their own. Solitary learners don’t particularly benefit from study groups or other group settings, instead preferring solo study sessions, private tutoring, or 1:1 lessons.

Find out how to learn Italian - no gimmicks! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels highlights how to learn Italian efficiently while keeping it fun.

Find out how to learn Italian - no gimmicks! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels highlights how to learn Italian efficiently while keeping it fun.

Find out how to learn Italian - no gimmicks! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels highlights how to learn Italian efficiently while keeping it fun.

Download (and potentially subscribe to) a language app.

My experience using Rosetta Stone.

This blog post is absolutely not sponsored by Rosetta Stone – but I do really love Rosetta Stone. Short of sitting down with a native Italian speaker, Rosetta Stone has given me an amazing language education. I actually first subscribed to Rosetta Stone to learn Russian (my husband is a native speaker). I also attended in person Russian classes and found I was way ahead of my fellow beginner classmates because Rosetta Stone had given me such a good foundation.

When I got the itch to start learning Italian, I immediately toggled over to my Rosetta Stone app on my phone to try out the very first Italian lesson. Learning a new language can be challenging, but I’ve always found Rosetta Stone removes the fear by kicking you straight into the pool (not the deep end – just into the pool).

Rosetta Stone essentially launches straight into language lessons with no English involved. There is never any English (unless you’re learning English, obviously). From the onset of the first Italian course, you’re hearing the Italian language. Rosetta Stone does a great job of mixing in listening, speaking, and interactive components – embracing multiple learning styles. This also means that even though there isn’t a native speaker in every lesson with you (or even a teacher), you’re still forced to actually speak out loud, reinforcing each lesson. Literally from the very first unit, you’re “forced” to speak Italian. Other than having native Italian speakers right there with you for each lesson – it doesn’t get much better than this. If you’re serious about learning Italian, Rosetta Stone is a “serious” app to learn with.

I’ll also say I appreciate that each lesson feels digestible and concise. Rosetta Stone actually paces out lessons per day so that you’re spending 30-60 minutes daily practicing Italian in the app. These bite sized portions of time making Italian learning approachable. I’m able to log in to my lessons, learn new Italian words and Italian grammar, all while squeezing in a half hour on our stationary bike.

Another update – Rosetta Stone’s ability to accurately hear your speaking has gotten so much better. I swear when I first started Russian lessons the app wasn’t hearing me properly, causing me to get really frustrated. Rosetta Stone Italian is hearing my Italian pronunciation clearly and giving me more accurate scores on how I say my Italian phrases. It’s so much more pleasant now without all the tech hiccups.

Again – not sponsored. But Rosetta Stone has seriously made my language learning journey, and now my Italian learning journey, so much easier. My Rosetta Stone lessons don’t always translate into perfectly flawless real world conversations – but they give me an amazing baseline vocabulary and the confidence to actually try to speak with native speakers.

Rosetta Stone is the only language app I’ve used, so unfortunately if you’re looking for other Italian course reviews I’m not your gal. Not yet, anyway.

Buy (and actually use) workbooks.

Workbooks will be especially handy for all you visual, physical, and logical learners out there – but they’re important for everyone regardless of your learning style. Studies have shown that writing helps reinforce learning, improving memory and retention. Unfortunately I’ve found any free workbooks to be rather useless. I bucked up and paid for this workbook and have really enjoyed it. Is it a bit of light fiction reading? Obviously not. But I’m able to start writing in Italian and getting comfortable with the grammar, helping to further reinforce lessons from Rosetta Stone.

Find native speakers.

Hands down, the best way to learn how to speak Italian is to speak with native speakers. Exposure to native speakers is 100% how to learn Italian quickly – because you’ll be fully immersed and hear the language from the experts themselves. The two ways to engage with native speakers is to hire a native speaker as a tutor/instructor or to go to places where native speakers naturally congregate. Trip to Italy, anyone? Lolz.

When it came to learning Russian, I attended a group class at a local language school taught by a native speaker along with hiring a 1:1 private tutor who was a native speaker. If you want to learn Italian fast and how to learn Italian fluently – conversations with native speakers will always be the answer.

Consume Italian entertainment.

Don’t have the budget for a tutor, a fancy app, or a group class? You can pick up languages by consuming the content and entertainment from that country, hearing native speakers speak, reading, or listening for free. Consuming entertainment from Italy might just be the best way to learn Italian on your own!

Watch Italian films.

Watching Italian made films with Italian actors will give you a great sense of not just the Italian language, but also the culture. It’s possible, though, to actually just start watching your own personal favorite films from your native language in Italian instead. By watching a film you’re already familiar with, but in a new language, you may be able to pick up on some vocabulary. Watching films in Italian will also help you pick up on proper pronunciation!

Listen to Italian music.

If you need to learn Italian fast before a trip, picking up new vocabulary by listening to Italian music is an efficient way to do so. You truly can learn basic Italian vocabulary just by picking out words from a song! Plus, the tunes are catchy, meaning you’re more likely to remember them. Try searching out the best Spotify playlists filled with Italian music to get started.

Read Italian literature.

Okay – this one’s a doozy. Reading in another language can be incredibly challenging. It’s also incredibly slow going. Where as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone may be an easy read in your native language, it suddenly becomes a puzzle and a challenge in the language you’re trying to learn. My advice? Start with children’s books! A great way to learn to speak Italian is to gather up some basic Italian vocabulary from young children’s books. Kid’s books often have loads of pictures, making interpretation of the language that much easier.

You might feel a little silly – but we are all beginners and have to start somewhere! Books can be great resources for learning.

Tune into Italian language learning podcasts.

I love podcasts. Not only do I host my own weekly podcast, but I’m also a huge podcast consumer. If you’re an auditory learner, Italian language learning podcasts are a great source of entertainment that also helps you learn. ItalianPod101 and 5 Minute Italian are just a couple of the many great podcasts for beginners to learning the Italian language.

Eat out at authentic Italian restaurants.

My favorite way to brush up on my Italian! Eating out at authentic Italian restaurants. Extra points if the wait staff and owner speak fluent Italian. I actually manage to get in a ton of pronunciation practice ordering Italian dishes off the menu – trying to remember to place the emphasis in the correct spaces and learn to say aloud words I’ve never said before (my fave is getting to order tagliatelle out loud).

And at the end of the Italian practice – I get to eat a darn delicious meal. I really could get used to this method of how to learn Italian.

Find out how to learn Italian - no gimmicks! Kelsey from Blondes & Bagels highlights how to learn Italian efficiently while keeping it fun.

Practice every singly day. Every. Single. Day.

The old adage of “practice makes perfect” is, unfortunately, very true. The only way to truly learn Italian – or any new language – is to practice daily. Consistency is key. Repetition and building habits and building up exposure will not only increase the speed at which you learn your new language, but also improve your chances of actual mastery.

If you’re one of those language learners that finds practice painful, your best bet is to try to find ways to remove your roadblocks and barriers. Gamifying your language learning through puzzles, movies, or other entertainment may make practicing feel a little bit more fun. Reading, listening, and watching movies totally counts as language practice! It’s immersion!

Remember to give yourself breaks – both physically and emotionally.

Burnout is a big issue. Our culture of constant productivity often means we suck all the joy right out of learning and put a ton of unnecessary pressure on ourselves. If you don’t schedule breaks for yourself, you’re less likely to keep up with your habit in the long run. Keep your language lessons to a reasonable amount of time each day – such as 20 to 30 minutes. Give your brain space to breathe, think, and truly absorb!

I also think it’s important to remember to cut yourself some slack emotionally. I often get pretty down on myself if I don’t score well on a Rosetta Stone lesson or if I feel I’m not making progress fast enough. I try to remind myself to speak to myself with the same kind words of encouragement I’d give to a friend. Beating yourself up for not seeing the progress you want, ultimately, doesn’t serve you.

Learning a new language should be beautiful and fun.

Plan a trip to Italy.

I saved this one for last because it’s not particularly realistic and it’s also admittedly expensive. If you can afford to plan a trip to Italy; however, wow what a great way to learn the language. Italians have a warmth and friendliness that I haven’t always found in my other travels. Every single native speaker I encountered during my most recent trip was more than willing to entertain some chit chat – and most gave us props for trying at all! Traveling to Italy is such an amazing opportunity to talk it up with the locals, read from local menus and signs, embrace Italian culture and history, and appreciate everything that makes Italy and Italian beautiful.

Learning Italian? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

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