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Should I learn Italian before going to Italy?

You’ve booked your tickets; you are so excited planning the trip of a lifetime to the “Bel Paese”. However, there’s just one question that’s been nagging at you: should I learn Italian before you go? Many people ask me this question. My answer is of course: yes! Below I am telling you the best way to learn it   https://www.languagesalive.com/best-way-to-learn-italian-for-beginners/

It would be incredibly helpful to be able to communicate with the locals in their own language. Italians are known for being warm and hospitable, and being able to converse with them in Italian would no doubt make your trip all more enjoyable.

On the other hand, you’re worried that learning Italian might be too much work, and that you might not have enough time to really become proficient before your trip. Besides, everyone speaks English in Italy, right? Wrong, only 34% of Italians speak English and you only need to achieve a level that’ll get you by to make your visit more relaxed. So no worries and let’s explore the benefits of learning the language of love.

The Benefits of Learning Italian Before You Go

The Benefits of Learning Italian Before You Go

There are definitely some advantages to learning Italian before you travel to Italy. For starters, it will make it much easier to get around and find your way—especially if you’re planning on doing any exploring off the beaten path. Knowing some Italian will also allow you to fully appreciate all the attractions Italy has to offer, from world-famous museums to quaint countryside towns and of course, as I mentioned before, being able to communicate with Italians in their own language will make your trip an authentic  Italian experience rather than a mere touristic visit.

Is learning Italian too much work?

Learning a new language can seem like a daunting task, but with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever before. You could take on private tuition online or use a digital program such as “Your learning Italian Experience” which is cost effective and allows you to learn Italian from scratch in the comfort of your home. Above all, this program will help to overcome the fear of speaking Italian with natives through a pioneer approach never used before by any language learning school or platform.

Here is the link https://www.languagesalive.com/downloads/evaluation-questionnaires/ where you can download the evaluation questionnaires right away. If you prefer a more traditional approach, there are plenty of textbooks and audio courses available as well. And who knows—you might even find that you enjoy learning Italian and decide to continue studying it even after your trip!

 

So should you learn Italian before going to Italy? Ultimately, the decision is up to you. I would if I were you; it is totally worth the effort. You’ll definitely be glad you did once you’re in Italy and can confidently order a plate of pasta or ask for directions without any trouble. But even if you don’t end up learning Italian beforehand, don’t worry—you’ll still have a wonderful time in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

The Hardest Part of Learning Italian

 The hardest part of learning Italian, is there one?

Ah, l’apprendimento della lingua italiana. It’s a marvellous thing, truly. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of visiting Italy for the first time and actually being able to hold a conversation with the locals. Today I am going to answer one of the most daunting questions I am asked on regular basis. Is Italian a difficult language to learn?

Learning Italian is certainly no walk in the park like for anything else new you learn. It takes time, it takes practice. Most people will tell you that the hardest part of learning Italian is mastering the pronunciation; I will tell you that it’s not true. Italian is a phonetic language and once you learn the sound of the alphabet and a few major sounds, it will be a piece of cake reading it, hence pronounce it.

One way to practice your pronunciation is to find a native speaker and ask them to help you with specific words or phrases that you’re having trouble with. Alternatively, there are a number of online resources that can also be helpful, such as Forvo (https://forvo.com), which is a user-generated pronunciation guide. Just type in any word or phrase that you want to know how to say, and chances are good that someone has already recorded themselves saying it for you.

Grammar

Italian grammar poses some challenges for English native speakers. For example, there are different verb conjugations for each subject pronoun (I, you, he/she/it (there is no neutral pronoun in Italian), we, you, you formal and they). On top of that, verbs also change depending on whether they’re being used in the indicative mood (for stating facts), the conditional mood (used to indicate an event happening only if a certain condition is achieved), the subjunctive mood (for expressing desires, uncertainty, probability or suggestions), or the imperative mood (for giving commands, instructions or exhortations).

Of course, there are also different verb tenses, such as the present tense (used for describing actions happening now), the past tense (used for describing actions that happened in the past), and the future tense (used for describing actions that will happen in the future).

Does it sound daunting right? It doesn’t have to be. If you learn the Italian grammar in a structured way from day one, you will find that it’s logical and the rules repeat themselves when applied to regular verbs, nouns, adjectives and so on. So find an online tutorial or take a class from a qualified tutor, I can certainly help; click the link below https://www.languagesalive.com/best-online-language-lessons/

Vocabulary

Even if you’re able to master all of the grammatical rules perfectly, it won’t do you much good if you don’t know any words! Learning vocabulary is easy; you will have to learn it in context. That means you will learn it from being exposed to the language as much as possible. For instance if you live in a city with an Italian community go out for an Italian meal or buy groceries from an independent Italian deli.

If it’s not your case, you can still increase your vocabulary by reading books suitable for your level, watching the news, listening to songs and podcasts. When you really struggle to understand the meaning use a dictionary, I typically use online resources such as www.wordreference.com

How should you respond if greeted with “ciao bella” by a stranger

Expressions

Surely you wondered what does “ciao bella” means and how you should respond?

How many times did you hear that? “Ciao bella” (hi, beautiful). In this case it refers to a female and it is used in colloquial Italian. When used among friends it is just used to greet without any further meaning, instead when used by someone you don’t know can be interpreted as a compliment or a catcall. So how should you respond if greeted with “ciao bella” by a stranger? Some women view the term as a form of objectification and feel uncomfortable when greeted with it. I personally look at the person’s body language and facial expression before I jump to a conclusion. If you are in doubt, just smile and ignore them.

In general, it’s best to err on the side of caution and only use “ciao bella” with someone you know well. If you’re not sure whether the person you’re greeting would appreciate being called “beautiful,” stick with a simple “ciao.”

The easiest part of learning Italian

The easiest part of learning Italian

Well-known Italian Greetings

How many times have you asked yourself how to use “ciao”? Below I answer your question.

Ciao is Italian for hello and bye. It’s one of the first Italian words most people learn. You can use it anytime, in any informal situation. There is no need to respond to ciao with another word. Just say ciao back. Ciao is informal, so you can use it with friends, family, and acquaintances. You can also use it when meeting someone for the first time in some cases, it depends on the context. If someone says ciao to you, just smile and say ciao back.

Arrivederci is an Italian word meaning goodbye. Arrivederci is a formal greeting and as the adjective indicates is used in formal situations such as at work. In order to properly respond to someone saying arrivederci you must answer arrivederci back. Contrary to “ciao”, which is used for greeting and farewell “Arrivederci” is only used when leaving.

The Italian kissing greetings etiquette

Another question I get asked often is about the etiquette of kissing when greeting. Italians are generally very affectionate, and kissing is a common way to greet friends, acquaintances, and even strangers sometimes. So, which cheek do you kiss first? Here’s a quick guide to kissing in Italy.

Kissing on the chick is a very common greeting among family and friends, nevertheless, men will not kiss other men if they don’t know each other. Yet, they might do it with very close friends and relatives. When you meet someone new, it’s always best to be on the safe side and go for a handshake instead of a kiss.

If you do find yourself in a situation where kissing is appropriate, don’t worry – it’s actually quite simple; you would kiss both cheeks starting with the left cheek.

As for how many times to kiss, in general, two kisses are sufficient – once on each cheek. Just follow the lead of the person you’re greeting and you’ll be fine.

Conclusions

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and you are now more motivated to start learning a bit of Italian.

Just take baby steps and enjoy your learning journey! Get ready to have the time of your life in one of the most stunning countries of the world; well I would actually say the most beautiful one and I’ve seen a few. I know, don’t judge I was born and raised in Italy, but I have no bias when it comes to the incomparable art and cultural heritage my country boasts.

 

Raffaella Palumbo

Passionate about languages & good food. I hold a Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and French, a Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication for Business and Professions and the CLTA teaching certificate. My hobby is chasing the sun around the globe. My favourite quote: “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way” (Frank Smith)

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