Ideas on learning conversational Italian quickly?
January 1, 2007 9:17 PM   Subscribe

I am heading to Italy in March, What is the best way to learn some conversational Italian quickly?

I already heave Michel Thomas's Cd's for Italian and like them however im wondering if you should be looking at other things like flash cards, cheat sheets, Rosetta Stone?

Any ideas would be appreciated

posted by OzMoges to Travel & Transportation around Italy (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't used Rosetta Stone myself, but I've heard good things about it from a friend who is trying to learn Japanese using the software.
posted by perpetualstroll at 10:15 PM on January 1, 2007

Best answer: There are plenty of options at plenty of prices.

I have used Rosetta Stone for Spanish and, it is very good but very structured too. It may take you a while to get your head around structuring sentences etc - they drill you on vocabulary first.

Another thing you might want to look at is Learn Italian Pod. I think it is a subscription base which is much cheaper than Rosetta and, you will get conversational lessons downloadable to your MP3 player to listen to while on the move (or burn to a CD and listen to in the car etc). I haven't used this but was considering it before I took up Spanish instead.

Other people I know have had success watching a lot of films in that language and trying to pick up phrases used in conversation based on the subtitles.

Maybe look at your local language school or college for an introductory Italina conversational class. Getting used to speaking a foreign language is often best done when you are talking with other people rather than repeating recorded phrases over and over.

It all depends on your price point, your urgency and what you want to achieve - perhaps if it is for simple phrases to use in Italy in March, look at the Learn Italian Pod, it might be a winner.

Have a good trip.
posted by moocheen at 11:49 PM on January 1, 2007

In preparing for my trip to Italy and Croatia this summer, I found the Pimsleur's Essential Italian quite useful. It is quite conversational from the start, and easy to follow, especially having had some Spanish in high school.

On the downside, it is quite expensive. I think around $140 for the "Level One" (thirty half-hour lessons). Also, it really only works if you repeat it out loud.
posted by chota at 12:31 AM on January 2, 2007

Have a look at the BBC website - their languages section has a Learn Italian Online course that might be helpful to you. I haven't tried it myself, but it looks quite comprehensive, with sections on grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary etc. I've had a brief play with the French one, which had listening and speaking tests, so asssuming the Italian one is the same if I were you I'd conentrate on the speaking and listening more so than the reading and writing, especially as you're looking for conversational Italian. Good luck!
posted by schmoo at 5:27 AM on January 2, 2007

Have you thought about an adult education class? Books and CDs are helpful, but often don't produce results as solid as actually speaking with another person. Adult ed courses are generally evening classes, only once or twice a week, reasonably priced, and often employ native speakers with excellent English skills. I took one last year before my trip and *loved* it, and was so pleased at the amount I was able to put into use when I was in Italy.

Have a great trip!!
posted by AthenaPolias at 7:21 AM on January 2, 2007

If you're going in March, that's not much time to really learn a language. I don't know how much you want to communicate but I'd definitely bring a little English/Italian dictionary with you and I hate to admit this, but I've found the little Rick Steves phrase books pretty helpful when traveling too. Plimseurs sounds good, but I haven't tried them. I have tried downloading language audiobooks from to my ipod to listen while traveling, but found that without a book to really look at the spelling of a word or phrase while I listen I have a hard time grasping it enough to confidently use it.

I'm currently learning Arabic and have the Rosetta Stone for it. Moochean is right, they start out really drilling you on vocabulary (cat, dog, boy, girl, etc.) more than on specific phrases you'll need as a traveler. It's more of an immersion thing, you get four choices of images or phrases to match up & they slowly get progressively more complex. You start out by totally guessing, but then through repetition you begin to recognize what's correct. It takes time to sink in, though. If you want to learn how a language really is broken down or how to correctly pronunciate, I wouldn't say RS is great for that. It's expensive & best used as an extra tool to help you with long term study, I think. I can definitely recognize Arabic words a little better, but I don't feel like I could ever go out and comfortably speak Arabic just from what I've learned on RS. The class I'm taking is definitely better for that.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:52 AM on January 2, 2007

Oh, and if do you decide that you want to take a beginning language class... usually they run for around 10 weeks, so you should probably seriously think of enrolling soon if you still can.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:56 AM on January 2, 2007

This was posted just today on

I can't vouch for the quality of any of them, but when I looked up "learn italian" in iTunes, there were five results (all free).
posted by greggrappone at 1:17 PM on January 3, 2007

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