Prep for Jure Sanguinis -> Help me find a great Italian textbook
May 27, 2013 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Preparing for Jure Sanguinis and trying to brush up on my non-existent Italian. I haven't had much luck with various websites and apps (FSI is an exception), can't afford Rosetta Stone, and can't leave work long enough for an immersion course. I've found that I do well with language textbooks in that I get a better sense of the grammar and they allow for rote memorization of words and phrases. With that in mind, can anyone recommend a good textbook (or system, or correspondence course) for learning Italian at home? Thank you.
posted by NYC-BB to Education (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by BenPens at 4:04 AM on May 28, 2013

So, not entirely a recommendation, but an evaluation of Teach Yourself Italian, which I bought earlier this year. It's a new edition which came out pretty recently. It's not bad exactly, but is let down by a fair sprinkling of typos. Also, it has this well-intentioned "we're teaching you how to learn!" angle to it which doesn't really work for me. This might be really good if you've never studied any foreign language before, but I find it just bogs things down and makes it harder to find the grammatical meat. But there are plenty of dialogues and a couple of accompanying CDs, so if you like rote memorization that aspect might appeal.

The other book I have is an ancient out-of-print one called Italian For You, which is refreshingly old-fashioned. Lots of verb tables and the like: good for reference but I wouldn't want it as a sole resource. From my researches on the net it seems that the Dover Essential Italian Grammar is well regarded for grammar reference, but I don't have it myself.

Usually for languages my default choice would be the Routledge Colloquial series, but I went for the Teach Yourself because the Italian Colloquial didn't seem to be getting many good reviews.

Although it's perhaps not entirely pertinent to your question (if you're focused on books), these are the non-book resources which are working fairly well for me: a combination of Michel Thomas, Duolingo, Anki (with both downloaded and self-assembled decks), reading as much simple Italian as I have time to (mainly fairy tales and magazine articles), and talking to as many Italians as possible. The conversation practice is really important. Assuming you're not actually in Italy, this blog post on finding conversation partners will probably be useful.

If rote memorization of phrases is what works for you, I'd seriously consider starting with a phrasebook (I don't know any to recommend, sorry) and a grammar (the Dover, say). Use Anki to memorize the phrases and pick their structure apart using the grammar. Once I would have scorned such a top-down approach but it's quicker than the bottom-up "start with the fundamentals" system.
posted by pont at 9:32 AM on May 28, 2013

Response by poster: Was not aware of Duolingo, and now my wife can't stop using it. Thank you!
posted by NYC-BB at 8:31 AM on June 2, 2013

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