I want to learn Italian.
November 9, 2004 10:08 PM   Subscribe

After recently getting the opera and pop-era bug and finding that I can sound half-decent singing it, I really want to learn Italian so I don't have to phonetically remember the lyrcis of the likes of "O sole mio". Any resources to help me do this cheap (on the Web preferably)? $100 or less?
posted by madman to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
It's not on the web, but a course at your local community college will likely be well under $100. You'd leave with a very solid foundation for continuing to learn the language the rest of your life. In bocca al lupo!
posted by letitrain at 10:27 PM on November 9, 2004

Response by poster: Here in India, we don't have too many "local community colleges" and especially none that teach Italian. ;)

(Besides, I run a restaurant, which doesn't leave much time to go take formal classes.)
posted by madman at 10:47 PM on November 9, 2004

Maybe you can track down a used set of Pimsleur Italian CDs or tapes? I used part of their French series before a trip several years ago. This was my first real study of the language and it was sufficient to prepare me for simple verbal exchanges as a visitor. The Pimsleur recordings differ from other language aids I've heard but I found their approach to be more effective.
posted by Songdog at 6:12 AM on November 10, 2004

I used to get daily language practice mailings from Parlo until they became a pay site, maybe three or four years ago? Their focus is conversational Spanish, French, and Italian, and looks like they've added English courses now too. I never paid for any of their courses or site access, so I don't know what the quality of it is like now, but their free stuff was very good practice for me (I studied Spanish). They offer one beginner-level course in Italian.

Rosetta Stone is a language learning program I often hear recommended as top-of-the-line - the US State Dept. and the Peace Corps have used it to train their workers. It looks like you can pay to access the lessons online ($49.95) in the language of your choice instead of shelling out a ton for their CDs (they're very expensive). You might want to check that out too.
posted by Melinika at 6:34 AM on November 10, 2004

Sorry, that should be $49.95/month and $89.95/three months for the Rosetta Stone online access.
posted by Melinika at 6:37 AM on November 10, 2004

Sorry, madman - I didn't check your profile to see where you live (/provincial American). In that case, I would second songdog's Pimsleur recommendation. They're over your budget for buying new, but you might find a used copy for much cheaper. Just make sure you are getting the "comprehensive" (30 lessons).

Or, if you can't find a cheap copy, they're also all over usenet, particularly alt.binaries.world-languages, and on bittorrent.
posted by letitrain at 7:50 AM on November 10, 2004

madman, contact me by e-mail and let me check my bookshelves, if I still have some "English for Italians" books around I'll be happy to send them over.
posted by matteo at 9:23 AM on November 10, 2004

The only problem with Pimsleur is that i find the method relies heavily on phonetic recall. I bought the Italian series last year, and there were no written lessons...only the cds. Am I wrong on this?

I also recommend continuing to listen to Italian opera and closely follow the libretto. My Italian noun/verb agreement comprehension became much better from this. There are a bunch of online resources i used as well, but i can't access the links right now. The only one i remember offhand is this.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:09 AM on November 10, 2004

No, you're right naxosaxur; Pimsleur provides only a few minutes of reading in each 30 minute lesson. Their method is very helpful for conversation, but it won't teach you much about how the language is written. My hunch is that for English speakers learning Italian this will not be a big problem, as I don't think of the spelling or pronunciation as being particularly tricky, but this may be naive.

(Incidentally, Pimsleur's limited written material is actually a benefit if you're going to download the lessons, as you won't be missing much.)
posted by Songdog at 12:25 PM on November 16, 2004

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