Four Weekly Practices for Learning Italian

Or, How I Study Italian 2018

In searching for some words of encouragement to begin this post, I typed into Google “why study Italian”?

A number of posts of popped up, mostly from language school blogs or university foreign language departments. I clicked the one with the most number of reasons (24).

Coming it at #24, below “to avoid boredom”, and “to even the score with Italians who speak your language” (a strange motivator for anything, in my opinion), is my #1 reason for studying Italian: for the sheer joy of learning.

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Above: How I feel when I understand spoken Italian!

I have been learning Italian in small chunks for nearly seven years now for one simple reason: L’italiano mi porta la gioia Italian brings me joy. Perhaps you feel the same?

If one of your goals this year is to learn Italian, my #1 tip is for you to surround yourself with the language; to weave little chunks of exposure and learning throughout your day. Italian is a steady presence in my life. Following are some of the ways to keep Italian close by. For additional tips, you may enjoy the other posts in this series: How I Study Italian #1#2#3.

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#1 Listen! (Ascoltare!)

This is the most convenient exposure opportunity. I always have music, podcasts or audio books it Italian at the ready. Every day, during time spent commuting, exercising or even making dinner, I have something in Italian as my colonna sonora (soundtrack).

Source suggestions:  News in Slow Italian, Mix 24 – La Storia, Storie di Fiori (these three are podcasts; Tutto Italiano; Radio Italia; Read and Think Italian (CD and book)

Time investment: An easy 30 minutes per day (although this can vary depending on your schedule)

#2 Read! (Leggere!)

I like to wake up early, sip a cup of coffee and read the blogs before everyone else wakes up. During this morning meditation of sorts, I try to read one article in Italian. Even if I don’t understand it all, it starts my day with a sense of accomplishment. Bonus points if you leggere ad alta voce — read it out loud. (Great pronunciation practice!)

Source suggestions: Dual Language: Italy Magazine, L’Olivo Santa Barbara, Studentessa Matta. Straight from Italy (certamente there are molto options) but my favorites are La Nazione and Donna Moderna.

Time investment: 10 minutes per day

#3 Practice! (Fare Esercizio!)

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At the risk of sounding a little pazza (crazy), one of my favorite ways to spend some free time is with my Italian grammar workbooks and websites. I find it to be strangely relaxing. 🙂

Source suggestions: Online: Babbel, Memrise (a great start for absolute beginners is this course on Memrise); The Iceberg Project (both free and fee-based challenges); books for beginners: Italian in 10 Minutes a DayEasy Italian Step by Step (I started with both of these); books for intermediates: Advanced Italian Step by Step or anything in the Practice Makes Perfect series.

Time investment: 10 minutes per day (or more as desired!)

#3 Chat! (Chiacchierare!)

Without a doubt speaking Italian is my biggest challenge! Short of finding a language partner who is fluent in Italian but needs to learn English, I am trying to have one conversation in Italian every week.

Source suggestions:  There are a variety of language tutors online, my tutor is Aurora at Skype Italian Teacher, (she’s great!). I see many recommendations for italkie, and if you have anyone in your life who speaks Italian, now’s the time to get in touch!

Time investment: 20-30 minutes per week

#4 Mini Immersion (Piccolissimo Immersione)

I find that it’s important to balance the language learning resources with actual Italian sources — shows and movies that you would find if you turned up in Italy one day. The pace is so much faster and it’s a great way to jump into Italian culture. Again, there are countless resources available (tante grazie, Internet!), so here are some of my favorites:

Source suggestions: Browse Rai Play and find a show or two which catches your interest. (I like travel shows, game shows and children’s shows); my favorite movie, naturalmente, is La Vita è Bella Other great suggestions on Netflix right now found here and here.

Time investment: 10 minutes per day or watch a full show or movie on the weekend.


I hope that you have found some fun, easy and helpful ways to weave Italian into your week. Let me know how it goes for you, and cin cin to a successful year in your language learning journey!

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. Ecco l’amore per l’apprendimento! How weird and funny that the list you came across mentioned “to avoid boredom” and “to even the score…” as reasons to learn a language.

  2. After a long lapse in study, I’m returning to Italian this year. I look forward to exploring your source suggestions and adding some language interludes to each day. Grazie!

    1. Thank you, I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful! Thank you for being here and in bocca al lupo to your Italian studies!

  3. Brava Stacy Anna, complimenti per un bel post e delle buonissime dritte per studiare l’italiano!
    Tua maestra 🙂
    Jodina Gallo

  4. Buon giorno Stacy! I have to say, these are all good tips, and I like the way you divided them up into reading, listening, and speaking. I find that I learn best by writing. Can I put in a plug for my favorite 2 resources? To really learn how Italian is spoken today, I find the Detective Montalbano series the most helpful Italian I’ve listened to. I watch the episode on Sunday and then replay each scene, one at a time, the rest of the week. Usually I can pick out phrases that lead to important learning points – like when self-reflexive verbs should be used. Also, for someone wanting to learn Italian for purposes of traveling, my free audio is up on http://learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html. It sounds like you will make great progress in your knowledge of Italian in 2018!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your learning tips and for the encouragement! Audio is especially helpful in making forward progress!

  5. #24 is really sad. I’d disregard that entire list on that entry alone.
    Good course of action and great wineglass shot!

    1. Thank you, glad you like the plan & photo. And yes, I am surprised too that I kept reading that long list!

  6. bonniegm says:

    LOVE this plan! New goal – read/listen to/watch at least 10 min. of something in Italian language BEFORE checking FB or Instagram. 🙂 I have also started, again but hopefully more consistently, my 2nd favorite program – il Maresciallo. Adore Gigi Proietti!!! 1st favorite is Don Matteo but I buy his on DVD and then, with the subtitles, my husband can watch with me. I also love Melevisione, especially the cooking episodes.

    1. Thanks for the great suggestions, Bonnie! I’m so glad you found a helpful study tip. Especially for those of us who have been studying for a while, it’s important to mix it up every so often. Are you still teaching Italian?

  7. jgroeber says:

    Guess what I just wrote out and taped to the wall by my kitchen table. My kids’ first words and phrases in Italian!! Fantastico!! (Any suggestions for an easy resource to teach the kiddos more? We’ve got a couple months to do it in. 😉)

    1. How exciting!! It sounds like perhaps a trip is planned…? I have been browsing my sources today and I will reply to this comment again with some links. Your kids will be your golden tickets in Italy!! xo

    2. Hello again! I’m surprised to find that there aren’t any stellar “travel italian for kids” resources! I think something with audio is especially helpful because kids can pick things up so fast. Here’s my best suggestions — please screen them first as they are not specifically written for kids 🙂 : two courses on Memrise (you can make a free account) Learn Italian for Polyglot (https://www.memrise.com/course/250006/learn-italian-for-polyglot/), and Audio Hacking Italian (https://www.memrise.com/course/49440/audio-hacking-italian/)

      Learn Italian with Lucrezia on YouTube, take a look at these two videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu-oIak-Ma4

      I also like this Fodor’s Travel link because it has audio, click around the upper left for other topics: https://www.fodors.com/language/italian/greetings/

      I have a quizlet folder that has a tiny start to Italian for travelers: https://quizlet.com/114274821/italian-for-travelers-flash-cards/

      This link may be more helpful for you but alas no audio (I’m happy to help you with pronounciation — it’s thankfully very consistent in Italian!): https://www.fluentu.com/blog/italian/italian-travel-phrases/

      A few survival words that I think will really be useful for your kiddos: Vorrei… (I would like), Potrei avere… (may I have), che cosa…? (what is… — then they can point to the item in question)

      Hopefully some of this is helpful! I’m going to send you an email later as we’re planning to be in Italy soon and it would be fun to connect! xo

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