How to speak Italian like a native
Within the European Union, Italian is one of 24 official and working languages. For travellers, learning the language is a stepping stone to understand the history of Europe. Interestingly, almost all Italian words end in a vowel. It is said that the Italian language has a musical quality to it.
Speak Italian confidently
Italian is the 20th most commonly spoken language in the world, with 63 million native speakers and 3 million speaking Italian as a second language. It is among the official languages of Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, some parts of Slovenia, and Croatia. Further, vast communities of Italian speakers exist in the United States, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Puerto Rico, the UAE and Venezuela. The prominence of Italian as a global language makes it naturally attractive to learn. Perhaps you aspire to work in Italy or Switzerland. Maybe you long to see Carmen performed at La Fenice in Venice, or to understand an Italian restaurant menu and order your farfalle al salmone and Panna Cotta with confidence? A trip on the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express or a visit to the vineyards of Piedmont will also be far more satisfying when you understand the language and can converse with the locals. In fact, a whole new world of friends awaits you when you learn this beautiful, musical and highly expressive language!
English speakers will also be delighted to know that learning how to speak Italian is relatively easy, as the two languages share Latin roots and plenty of common cognates. In fact, you'll find that many Italian words are instantly familiar (or possible to guess) and easy to pronounce. Yes, it takes time to master the accent and the language's famous musicality, but Italian has intuitive phonetics that can be picked up quickly from written words. Additionally, verb tenses in Italian are very similar to English tenses, so you'll already have a head start and be ready to experience success. Another great advantage of learning how to speak Italian is that it provides a stepping-stone to other popular European languages. This is because it is a Romance language, in common with French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian - mastery of one of these languages thereby facilitates learning others.
Top tips on how to speak Italian?
- Start speaking it regularly with friends
- Set achievable goals
- Read Italian recipes
- Keep up with Italian news to immerse yourself in the culture
- Practice little and often using an app or online course
Practice fast and effectively
So now that you know you want to learn how to speak Italian, what is the best way to begin, and what do you need to do to maximise your chances of success? There are plenty of options available to you, depending on what your objectives, timescales and resources are. These are some of the most common options and best tips:
Language classes From language lessons in schools and adult education centres through to private language tuition and summer schools, there are plenty of face-to-face Italian lessons for speakers of all levels. These are the traditional way of learning and tend to focus on rote learning, with lots of grammar and vocabulary lists. Classes will tend to be structured and led by a native speaker. They can be useful for learners who like the structure and discipline of a regular class, but their quality depends greatly on the qualification level of the teacher, the accreditation of the course and the pace of your peers.
CDs and books Language instruction books certainly have their place and can help you if you want to practise certain points - such as grammar construction for written purposes - or to develop your written Italian. But they lack the immersion and immediacy needed for rapid spoken Italian and the material may be out-dated, so make you sure you get the most recent editions of any books you buy.
Italian-language Podcasts There is certainly some very good content online produced by news organisations, language schools or enthusiastic individuals. Podcasts and radio stations - such as News in Slow Italian and I Provinciali - bring Italian news, food, rural life, the arts and culture to life and expose listeners to a wide range of dialects, local lingo and diverse Italian influences. These are great to listen to alongside a structured learning methodology.
Cultural immersion Find ways to enjoy the culture. Book a holiday to the Lakes, or find a local Italian group to meet other Italians and practise your conversation over a Prosecco! Visit authentic Italian restaurants and delight the waiting staff by practising your Italian vocabulary, read Italian books and newspapers and learn more about the country's fascinating regions, history, art and cuisine. The more you can bring your Italian experience and passion to life, the more you will feel excited about fast-tracking your own language skills!
Speak Italian with Babbel
If you want a method that combines the best of all of these options when learning how to speak Italian, then Babbel, our app, might be for you. Our language-learning app may have a simple interface, but it is the result of intensive academic development. The language methodology uses the finest time-tested teaching approaches, combined with modern tech and a vast database of Italian words and phrases.
- Bite-size lessons built around real-world situations
- Voice-recognition technology for instant learner feedback
- High-quality French courses devised by 150 language experts
- Authentic French accents allow you to speak and be understood everywhere
Because lessons are delivered via your smartphone, you can log on whenever you have a few minutes to spare and immerse yourself in the immediacy of spoken Italian. This modern and highly effective approach to learning a language means that you will be chatting away in Italian in no time at all, and you can choose lessons that are tailored to your interests and focus topics. With a responsive interface and a success rate that has seen 5 million users worldwide learn languages, Babbel is the way to go.