Instructional materials for Italian
February 21, 2005 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Instructional materials for Italian My new favorite bits of culture -- Calvino, Antonioni, and Fellini -- are making me want to learn Italian. Now, I've studied French for a while, I've had a year of Portuguese, and I'm a linguistics major, so I don't need (much) hand-holding. I.e., I'm looking for (a) textbook(s) with the usual exercises, gradual introduction of vocab, and short readings, all without trying to make the explainations "easier" and therefore less straightforward and complete.
posted by Utilitaritron to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not trying to be snarky, but I'm not sure why you're asking this. You're in a college, right? They have a bookstore, right? Go to the bookstore, find Italian in the language section, and look through the available textbooks. You can also do this at a large Barnes & Noble or other well-stocked bookstore (I presume there are such in Minneapolis). Find the one that most appeals to you and buy it. As a linguistics major who's studied other languages, you must be aware that no one method is "right" for everyone; some people need/want more grammar upfront, others do better with lots of conversations and exercises, picking up grammar painlessly as they go. Someone here could say "get X, it's a great book," and you'd send off for it and realize you didn't like it and weren't going to enjoy working through it.

That having been said, Italian Language Today might be what you're looking for.
posted by languagehat at 7:52 AM on February 21, 2005

If your interest is for conversational purposes, I suppose the generic are Ciao and Prego! these however,are just beginner to intermediate standard college texts. I learned most of my street Italian from speaking with my mother around the house. I suggest finding a conversational group and take with you one of the two mentioned above. This way you can start to memorize by reading answers from the phrases given and writeing down the difficult points from the discussion.

However, my best advice is just to go to Italy. The language is not hard and you can pick it up so much easier from the eager natives themselves. You would learn it 10x faster then any other way. They love any interest from foreigners and will gladly guide a street-side lesson. It may be harder to travel but you would get the full experience.
posted by Viomeda at 9:40 AM on February 21, 2005

Of course Viomedia is right, the best thing would be to go to Italy. That may not be at all practical for you, though. The larger point is that it's a good idea to get as much conversation as possible after you get your bearings with the language.

I studied Italian in school (and eventually decided to major in it) and my first textbook was Italiano in diretta. I was in a similar situation, having studied French for some time, and I found Italian was not too difficult for me. Who knows, this textbook and the others mentioned above may be too basic for you.

Anyway, auguri on your decision to study a really interesting language.
posted by lackutrol at 11:42 AM on February 21, 2005

I found BBC Italian Grammar extremely helpful. There is only as much vocab in it as is needed to clearly illustrate how the language works and it doesn't include any longer readings or even any exercises but I found myself wanting to spend more time with it than the conventional textbooks I tried.
posted by teleskiving at 12:15 PM on February 21, 2005

If you can find a copy of Duff's Italian for Beginners, or possibly Italian for Adults, you will be delighted. It had me speaking to Italians in complete sentences in 2 weeks.

As soon as you master the declensions, conjugations and basic grammar, pick up a copy of Manzon's I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed). A landmark of Italian history, it was more than the first modern Italian novel - it actually helped define and unify the language that is now modern Italian, when all around was dialects.

You could do worse, also, than to get one of those editions of Dante's Inferno with the English on one side and the Italian on the other. Although the Italian is archaic, it's certainly some of the most famous verse around in any language, and it is quite beautiful and elegant.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2005

Response by poster: I've already been to the library and the bookstore, and together there were at least ten feet of teach-yourself-Italian-type books. I just wanted suggestions, which I now have, before I wade through the selection. Thanks!
posted by Utilitaritron at 7:00 PM on February 21, 2005

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