The first thing that I’d like to mention before I get into all the different techniques you can use to learn Italian, is that this guide can be generalised to learning any language when you’re living abroad! You might have to browse around for online resources specific to the language you would like to learn, but for the rest the techniques remain the same. So if you’re following my blog but you are out in Spain or France doing similar things, this guide can help you too!
Duolingo is a free resource for helping you to learn a language (in this case Italian). There is an app, if you wish to learn on the go, and there is an online site as well, which is slightly more in depth and difficult and therefore can be more helpful for learning the language. When I started learning Italian, I had no prior knowledge of the language whatsoever, and this app taught me everything I needed to know in order to make basic conversation with people, for a free resource it is absolutely fantastic. The only thing I would say, having completed it, is that once you get to the point of needing to know in depth grammar etc, it can become slightly unreliable and although it’s good for practise, it doesn’t really give you a lesson on the grammar rules and how they work. Which takes me nicely onto my next resource…
Specifically for Italian there is a channel that I used a lot to learn the Italian grammar rules, and that’s “Weilà Tom” which has some great explanations on how to conjugate verbs in different tenses and when to use those tenses, this is really handy as there are lots of tenses in Italian, many more than in English, and he explains really well when to use which tense and how to conjugate it. Although this particular channel I have found is really good for learning Italian, I’m sure that there are other channels out there which would be great for learning other languages. Although both Duolingo and Youtube are great for learning the language, neither of these get you used to listening to people speaking at a normal rate, therefore the next resource i use is….
This might sound like a strange idea, but when you are on Netflix abroad it often gives you the option to watch the shows in the native language. So I have been watching all my favourite shows on Netflix in Italian to practise listening fast pace. Also if you watch your shows with subtitles in English as well it can be a really good way to pick up on new words and slang phrases. However remember to take these with a pinch of salt and check them on google translate afterwards because some of the translations aren’t 100% accurate. Also this gives you a really good excuse to binge shows as it’s educational.
When you Travel abroad and try to log into your Spotify, it will tell you that your location setting doesn’t match that of your account (if you already have an account that is) and asks you to change it. When you change your account to the country you’re in and go into the browse section, it will give you the option to listen to the top charts of the country you’re in. This can be really handy for practising your Italian. I listen to the songs from the top charts and try to translate them as I go. If you get to a word you don’t know you can put it into google translate, and that way you’ve learned a new word. It can initially be tricky to distinguish what is being said in songs as it’s fast and there’s lots of background noise etc, but once you get the hang of it, it can be really helpful!
5.) Games and tests online
There are lots of games and exercises that test your Italian (or other language) ability, therefore allowing you to practise and improve. The website that I use is called Conjuguemos.com, which has a general verb conjugation test for all the tenses and a frog conjugation game where you have to catch the correct conjugation, if you want something a bit more light hearted. Again I’m sure there are lot’s of similar things out there for learning different languages!
The last thing I would say is that if you’re abroad, practise is key! It might be embarrassing to try and speak a foreign language as you feel that people may laugh at you when you get things wrong, or won’t understand you, but you learn from your mistakes and it will really give you a feel of the accent as well as really improving your speaking.