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Learning to speak Italian is easier than you think!

Learning Italian connects you with a rich culture steeped in old world history and tradition. From the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside to incredible sculpture and paintings of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. However, there’s more to this wonderful country and its people than what’s listed in tourist guides, as well as many benefits of learning to speak Italian. It is the third most spoken language in the European Union with 65 million native speakers, and an additional 14 million second language speakers in the EU. However, although there are small pockets of Italian language and influence in the Americas, most Italian speakers are found in Italy and its surrounding countries such as Switzerland, San Martino, and Croatia.

Italian is also the main language of the Vatican, and the lingua franca of the Catholic Church with most papal documents being written in Italian. Those interested in further study of the history and mystery of the church would find it very beneficial to brush up on their Italian. Italy is also the home of many luxury goods companies from handbags and clothing, to sports cars, and motorcycles. The Italians pride themselves on producing fine, quality goods and only settle for the best.
Of course, Italy is also one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world and holds a top spot on many people’s list of must-see locations. From wandering the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum, to taking a gondola ride through the canals of Venice, or having a quaint week in the countryside to indulge in the traditional food, wine, and lifestyle of the Italian people, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit Italy. And while many people in the tourist hotspots will speak English, if you venture just a short way off the beaten path, you’ll find that speaking Italian will be hugely beneficial.

Fast facts about Italian

  • There are 65 million native speakers of Italian.
  • Italian is the 3rd most spoken language in the European Union.
  • Italian is the language which is most closely related to Latin.
  • Modern Italian is based on the Tuscan dialect from around Florence which became standardized Italian in the 14th century.
  • There are many regional dialects in spoken Italian, and there are considerable differences between the language spoken, for instance, in Rome, Venice, Milan, and Sicily.
  • Only 2.5% of Italy’s population could properly speak the Italian standardized language when the nation unified in 1861.
  • Italy is the county with the most UNESCO sites in the world with 51.
  • Only 34% of Italians can speak English.

Learning to speak Italian

Italian is a beautiful language to speak and listen to. However, the many regional dialects of the language can make it a challenge to learn. The Italian which is spoken in northern Italy in places such as Milan or Venice can vary drastically from the Italian you hear on the streets of Rome and can be almost incomprehensible in the southern regions in places like Sicily. However, thanks to the work of Dante Alighieri in the 14th century, there exists a standardized Italian which all people in Italy are able to speak and understand even if it’s not the language they use at home among their friends and family.

For instance, take a look at these differences between Venetian and Standard Italian:

VENETIAN

ITALIAN

ENGLISH

trincàr bere to drink
insìa uscita exit
piròn forchetta fork
pomo/pòn mela apple
mustaci baffi moustache
schèi soldi money

The use of standard Italian based on the dialect surrounding Florence in Tuscany is widespread and used in virtually all newscasts, media, and as a sort of lingua franca between people who speak vastly different dialects. This is also what you’re most likely to learn when you study Italian as a second language. The important thing is not to worry, just do your best, and have fun learning all the different ways you can learn to speak Italian like a native.

Ways to learn to speak Italian

There are many different ways you can choose to learn Italian. Many of them are even free on the Internet.

 Classroom

This is the method most of us are already familiar with. It’s very likely that you have at one point or another tried to learn a foreign language already using this method. It’s a really good way to cover all 4 aspects of language learning (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) in a single place. The only problem is that it requires a large time commitment, and many people are unable to fit regular classes into their already busy schedules, and depending on the class, it can also be a bit pricy.

Private Lessons

Learning directly from a native speaker in a one-on-one environment is one of the best ways you can possibly learn a foreign language. With this individualized attention, you can master Italian in no time. However, it’s not always easy to find a qualified native Italian tutor, and private lessons, even just once a week, can be on the expensive side. But for those who are serious about learning Italian, this is a preferred method.

A/V and Books

Although this method is falling a bit out of style, it was once one of the most popular ways of teaching yourself a new language. If you’re more of the independent study kind of person, you may want to check this out. However, the drawback is that it is a quite solitary method, and unless you have an iron will, it’s easy to get burned out. It also lacks a lot of the social interaction which makes other methods of language learning worthwhile and interesting.

Software

Computer software is becoming a very popular method of learning a new language. Many programs attempt to mimic natural learning which help our minds associate new words directly with the places, things, and situations which they represent instead of having to filter them through your native language via translation. This too is a bit lacking in the social interaction department, and can take a bit of self control to stick with.

Travel and Immersion

This is a wonderful way to get to know a new language as well as experience the cultural context in which it is spoken. One might argue that it’s not possible to truly learn a language without learning the culture as well. However, this one requires the time and money it takes to travel to a foreign country, and not everyone has that luxury. You should also be a bit versed in the new language before you arrive, or plan to take classes there, or you might find yourself in a bit over your head.

Online

There so many websites out there which offer to help you to learn Italian online, a lot of them are even free, or reasonably well priced. If you’re still deciding whether you want to invest the time and energy into learning a new learning a new language, this is probably the route to go. Most of them only cover the basics of the language, and move at a beginner’s pace, so more advanced language learners might not get as much value from them.

Apps

Language learning apps are one of the best new tools available to language learners. Now, it’s easier than ever to find and connect with fellow language learners all around the world, and practice speaking with native speakers of practically any language. It’s a language learning revolution, and it’s happening right in your front pocket.

Learn Italian with Tandem

Learning Italian with Tandem Teachers is like putting together the best aspects of all the other language learning methods into one. If you’re looking for a fun, easy way to get one-on-one instruction from a professional language teacher, then Tandem Teachers is the place for you. With Tandem you can:

  • Receive individual instruction with the press of a button.
  • Learn from professional teachers who have been individually chosen for their experience and skill.
  • Try out different tutors to find someone who matches your style.
  • Fit language learning into your schedule. Lessons range between 15 minutes to an hour or more!
  • Everyone gets one free lesson when they sign up.

Get your first free lesson on Tandem Teachers right now when you download the Tandem app from the app store. You can be immersed in your first Italian lesson before you can say Buongiorno! Don’t wait any longer, start learning Italian today!