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Learning Italian

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Tuesday 6 June 2006 6.44pm
I'd really like to learn how to speak, write and read Italian somewhere in SE1. Does anybody have any advice on how I would go about this. I stopped languages at O level to concentrate on sciences so I'm pretty much a lingual virgin but I am spending more and more time in Italy (and loving it) and would like to understand and be understood
Tuesday 6 June 2006 6.48pm
Morley College -

Language department page here

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Tuesday 6 June 2006 7.56pm
I have learnt four foreign languages as an adult, after being pretty much written off as a linguist at school.

It can be done.

The key thing to realise is that language is a skill not a subject as such. Like riding a bike, the more you practice the better you get no matter how little linguistic aptitude you have. Its just easier if you have aptitude.

The trick is really to use the language. If you are interested in football buy an italian football magazine, and make lists of the key nouns and learn them. You will soon find you can scan a story.

Get DVDs of Italian movies and try to listen to the language being spoken and to get a feel for the rhythms. Record Italian news from an internet radio and listen to it again and again until you start understanding. (The good thing about news is that stories carry on from one day to another and so once you have sorted out the vocabularly you can sort of follow.) Radio is generally easier than TV as people speak more clearly. Best of all are short wave stations such as the BBC world service because they speak very slowly and clearly, though I don't know if they have an Italian language service.

Do try to speak as much as you can when in Italy in shops etc, but don't be surprised if speaking lags way behind understanding.

And do go to classes.

The key thing is to keep going. It does not matter if you lose momentum. You will simply learn more slowly. But if you give up, you stop.

I am sounding very bossy this evening.
Tuesday 6 June 2006 8.52pm
(I don't think you sound bossy at all, Sarah. I think you sound lovely and helpful!)
Wednesday 7 June 2006 12.10pm
I speak several languages - after studying at university, learning as an adult and living abroad.

From that experience I can say that you won't get better advice that The Sarah's. It's a case of a lot of hard work, constant practice - little and often is my experience - you have to keep it up, you have to put your embarrasment aside and immerse yourself in it as much as possible.

CDs of Italian music may be painful but will train your ear, as will Italian radio & TV (try the opera !)

Post It notes of vocab stuck around the house used to annoy my parents but drums it into you. I carry a Post It with 10 words a day around in my pocket - and every time I put my hand into my pocket I go over a few of them.

But then I AM quite anal.
Monday 12 June 2006 3.59pm

I'm just coming to the end a year of beginners Italian at Southwark College on The Cut and really enjoyed it - it was quite a mixed group of us but a friendly group with good teaching - I'd definitely recommend it. I'm planning to continue in September ...
Monday 12 June 2006 5.30pm
Thanks for your help, guys. I'll look into Morley and Southwark Colledges
Monday 12 June 2006 6.41pm
I remember watching "Sesame Strasse" in Germany as I struggled with no more than a poor O Level.

I therefore felt for a Kosova mother I knew at mother and toddler group who, determined to make a new start in Britain, had concerntrated hard on English TV. Trouble was that it was Barney the Dinasaur and Teletubbies. "Eh-oh" she would say. But she picked up English fast and within about two years was acting as a court interpreter.

Once you know some Italian, intensive residential courses are a good way of making a good step forward. Better if you get to stay with an Italian family.

Or try swapping conversation with a native speaker. I assume there are plenty of people attendng EFL courses in London who would welcome the chance. Finding a group of Italian friends in London that you could go out with would be brilliant. And the food is good.
Monday 12 June 2006 8.55pm
Hello all, I'm a re-registered, past contributor...with a new "handle"

Still recognise a few of the original names, but there are lots of new - so here goes...

I'm in the process of organising some Italian tuition with a local teacher in SE1 - face to face with materials provided etc. - Seems a good deal, and presumably can be a little more flexible than attending college during term time only for a set number of weeks...

Anyway, as I am yet to have my first lesson, and am loathed / prohibited from posting their details without permission, or indeed promoting their services on this forum as an advertisement, I'll let you all know how I get on soon.

I am already fairly fluent in Spanish, so I think Italian will be fairly easy for me to run with - having said this, I agree with everything Sarah and other posters detailed - there is no substitution for lots of practice in all different media...

For instance, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol with Gerrard Depardieu are essentials for any wannabe French speaker - as long as you are prepared to speak the lingo with a regional accent - Can anyone recommend their top 3 Italian language films for us to watch?

Good to be back, and catch you all soon

Tuesday 13 June 2006 9.36am
I asked a friend of mine about Italian films - here is his answer (he knows about this sort of thing):

As for the films, I absolutely love The Conformist by Bertolucci, although it's an old one and hard to find. Otherwise, they could try The Bicycle Thieves and Cinema Paradiso.

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