Some people ask me: “And.. do you arleady speak Italian?” Well, of course, I speak some Italian. I knew a little bit of Italian before I moved to this country and I had a bigger vocabulary than the average tourist. However, when I moved here I was very much a beginner and I still am, even though progress is noticeable. It is just not that easy.

Before moving to Italy I attended an Italian course in the Netherlands, which I can really recommend and if you are interested in that particular course you can let me know in the comments. At the time of starting that course we were not planning to move to Italy at all, but my boyfriend’s parents do not speak English and I wanted to be able to communicate with them, so I started a beginners course. Meanwhile I also used the application Duolingo on my phone, which I can recommend as well. It’s for free (it’s a true miracle to me) and if your English is good enough you can basically learn any language you like with this app. There are, unfortunately, no grammar explanations, but to increase your vocab and learn in a more playful manner, it’s very useful.

Nevertheless, when I moved to Italy all of this wasn’t enough of course. I had to up my game and I started reading more. First, comics like Topolino (comic books are really helpful at the beginning. Because of the illustrations the unknown words are being – sort of – explained to you) and now books that are both in English and Italian. You first read the English page and then the Italian one, it’s amazing. Newspapers and magazines are also very beneficial. The short stories are much easier to stick to and far less tiring, because learning a new language is tiring.

(Reading is such an important part of learning a new language)

Another helpful tool for me is watching online Italian series with Italian subtitles. One episode is perphaps 50 minutes long and I always divide that in two, because after playing 25 minutes of the show I notice that I’m losing focus and then it becomes a waste of time. Mind you, I do not just watch these shows, I also look up everything that I don’t understand. Which means that 25 minutes actually turn into an hour.

To practice my grammar I use free online websites with different exercises and explanations. The one I’m currently using is the website onlineitalianclub.com. I like this one, because it has a level test, which decides what level you’re at and then you can start with exercises that are developed for that particular level, which is very useful.

(Grammar is not always fun, but helpful at the beginning of your language journey)

But we’re not done after this, because this week I’m going to add another exercise to my “learning regime”, which is writing an Italian e-mail to my boyfriend a couple of times a week and he has let me know that he will reply to my carefully written e-mail by the end of the day. In all honesty, this was his idea and I’m very glad he came up with it.

Last but not least, to improve my speaking skill, I sometimes speak a little bit of Italian with my boyfriend, but we really do not do that enough. We both believe it to be so much more convenient to speak English to each other. However, when I’m going for groceries, or when I speak to an Italian friend who struggles with English sometimes, I get to refine my Italian speaking skill. I have thought about doing an Italian course here to be able to speak more Italian, but besides those being rather expensive and located in a different city, they should also not be highly necessary in my specific case (I should just suck it up and speak more, but that’s exactly the threshold that no new language learner likes to cross). However, when you’re a complete beginner, I truly recommend starting with an Italian course.

In a nutshell; what do I do on a daily basis concerning my Italian studies? I spend approximately 15 minutes on Duolingo, 15 minutes on reading and 15 minutes on grammar exercises. I spend about an hour on watching Italian series (listening is perhaps the most difficult skill, because people speak ridiculously quickly here).
The following exercises are not done on a daily basis, but about three times a week; half an hour of writing and perhaps 20 minutes of speaking (depending on how tired I am).

If you have any tips on what I could do to improve more quickly, let me know in the comments.

From Italy with love,

Merel

*nothing in this post is sponsored.