Learning the Language: What to Know About Studying Italian in Italy

Learning the Language: What to Know About Studying Italian in Italy

Learning Italian has been such an exciting adventure. Not only is the language beautiful, it is rather pleasant to learn! Coming from English as my mother-tongue, there are a few things you should know about this beautiful language while studying abroad in Italy.

There is gender associated with Italian words:  The boy – il ragazzo; the girl – la ragazza

There are seven verb conjugations for each verb: I/you/you formal/he/she/we/you all/they

For example, if you wanted to say ____ eat, it would look like this (he/she are the same):

  • Io mangio
  • tu mangi
  • Lei mangia
  • lui mangia
  • lei mangia
  • noi mangiamo
  • voi mangiate
  • loro mangiamo

Practicing my Italian while enjoying some authentic cuisine.

Italian dialects vary: There are different dialects of Italian (aka slang). These can be very confusing or very fun to try out. Some Italians cannot understand certain dialects since they vary so much from north to south.

Verbal tone and body gestures are a vital part of the Italian language: Yes, Italian hand-gestures are legitimate!

Italian Phrases to Know Before You Go:

Alright, so now you have a little heads-up on what you’re getting into. But what are you really getting into? Here is a list of some vital daily phrases to know in Italian!

  • Hello/Good morning- Buongiorno
  • Good evening/night- Buonasera/notte
  • Hi/bye- ciao   (See also: a dopo– see you later ; a domani– see you tomorrow)
  • How are you?- Come’ stai?
  • I am fine, thanks. And you?- Sto bene, grazie. E’ tu?
  • Perfect- perfetto
  • Who is there?- Chi c’e’
  • What did he say? Cosa ha detto?
  • When is lunch?- Quando e’ il pranzo?
  • Why not?- Perche’ no?
  • I am hungry- Ho fame.
  • Where are you from?- Di dove sei?
  • I am from (Tennessee).- Sono di Tennessee
  • I like soccer.- Mi piace il calcio.
  • Where is the toilet? – Dove’ il bagno?
  • How much does it cost?- Quanto costa?
  • Can I help you?- Posso aiutare?
  • You’re welcome- Prego
  • I would like an espresso, please. – Io voglio un espresso, per favore.
  • Excuse me(formal)/sorry(informal)- Scusi/scusa
  • Excuse me/can I pass by?- permesso
  • What time is it?- Che ora sono?
  • I’m hot/cold- Ho caldo/freddo

Helpful Methods to Practice Your Italian Language Skills

To improve my Italian, practice has become my best friend! The best way to pick up on the language is to immerse yourself in it as much as possible. This means reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

I have learned that patience is crucial to learning another language, and that it takes time, desire, and dedication! Saying this, the following are some useful methods I have used to improve my Italian.

Before I came to Italy, I started my own Italian-English dictionary. I wrote down the words I knew I wanted to know in English and then translated them into Italian.

During the first 2 months, I religiously wrote down every word I learned in Italian.  This allowed me to look back and review the tremendous amount of vocabulary I was learning!

I practiced the verb conjugations over and over and over. Once you memorize the formula of conjugating verbs, you will be set! But pay attention to the irregular verbs!  It’s also helpful to have a grasp on the top five verbs you will probably use:

  • To be- essere
  • To have- avere
  • To go- andare
  • To eat- mangiare
  • To buy- comprare

Ask your host siblings for help! My 12 year-old sister helped me with the alphabet and pronunciation, and I help her with her English.

Host siblings can be the best help in learning Italian phrases!

Translate a children’s book! I translated a few pages of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  It was educational and humorous!

Listen to Italian music! Search for your favorite genre in then add “Italian” and you are set!

My Spotify playlist for learning Italian.

PODCASTS! Not only are they interesting, but they speak clearly and give you a break from your Italian music! These are probably the best thing ever invented. There are different topics and levels of comprehension. Spotify has a series on learning Italian called “Coffee Break Italian”.

Watch movies you have seen before in Italian with English subtitles. Then watch it again with Italian subtitles. This is extremely effective after you’ve learned some basic Italian!

Never settle for the “easy way out.” If you want to improve your Italian, you must try even when it seems too difficult. Don’t whip out Google Translate for everything… at first try your best on your own. Don’t know the word for “dog”?- Bark. Throw your hands up, play charades, use synonyms or examples. Do the hokey-pokey if you have must. If people don’t catch on then, you now have my permission to Google it up. But if they do understand you after your one act play, ask them “how do you say it?”- “Come si dice? Then, boom…new vocab for you!

A photo of my ticket to the Umbrian archeological museum (Umbria is the region of Italy I am living in). This museum was my favorite because taught me more about my city and helped me practice the language.

I hope this article motivates you to learn the most beautiful language I’ve ever heard. Starting sometimes as huge as learning an entire language can be rather terrifying, but it is completely achievable! No, it will not come easily, or overnight. It takes some effort and quite some time.

Hopefully I’ve made my point clear… having an open mind is essential. If not, let me leave you with one last word of wisdom: patience!

In bocca al lupo! Buona fortuna! Good luck!


About the Author:

Bethany Carideo, is 16-years old and our 2017 Greenheart Travel Correspondent scholarship winner from Athens, Tennessee. Bethany is traveling abroad as a high school student in Italy and her goal is to become proficient in Italian, and is excited to have new host siblings during her time abroad. Follow her adventures here!

Ready to start learning Italian while living and studying in Italy?!

2 thoughts on "Learning the Language: What to Know About Studying Italian in Italy"

  1. Melonie says:

    All great advice Bethany. Especially writing all your vocabulary down!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *