If you decide you want to learn how to speak Italian, you will be in good company. More than 60 million people in the world speak Italian, primarily in Italy, parts of Switzerland and the small states of San Marino and the Vatican City within the borders of Italy. The language is also spoken by immigrant and minority groups in a number of countries, such as the USA. Many more people speak Italian as a second language.
The Italian language as we know it dates from the unification of Italy in the 19th century, and is based on the language previously spoken in Florence. Before that time there were many different languages in Italy, which means that even today there are quite marked regional differences in the way the language is spoken. If you decide to learn Italian, you will find that you can make yourself understood anywhere, but you will hear many variations as you travel from North to South.
As both languages are derived from Latin, it is not too difficult for English speakers to learn how to speak Italian. There are some differences in grammar, although some of these, such as putting the adjective after the noun, will be familiar to anyone who has studied French. Some of the vocabulary is similar to that used in English, and many more words are recognisable to those who know French or Spanish.
One difference from English is that almost all words end with a vowel, often an “o”, an “a” or an “i”. When you are learning how to speak Italian, you may find that it sounds quite different from English, with a more rhythmic, musical sound, and a more regular pattern of stress. One big advantage for those to want to learn Italian is that, once you have learnt the rules, you will find it is pronounced exactly as it is written: Unlike English, there are hardly any spelling irregularities at all.
There are many different ways to learn Italian. There may be classes in your local area, at a university or an adult education institute. You might be lucky enough to find a private teacher locally, or you could choose to attend a language school in Italy. Online courses may also be available. An exchange trip to stay with a family in Italy is another possibility and, of course, you can learn a certain amount just by travelling the country and trying to speak Italian to the people you meet.
A very good way of learning how to speak Italian is by using the online products of Babbel.com. This is a multi-media approach to learning Italian, incorporating grammar exercises and voice recognition to improve your pronunciation. There are even apps that you can use so that you can learn to speak Italian with your smartphone while you are on the move. This method allows you to study at your own pace, so that you can learn Italian in a way that suits you. With the online learning system Babbel, both beginners and continuing learners can study Italian. The websites offers besides classical grammar, beginner’s and intermediate courses, also thematic courses around food, travel, business or society in an interactive and fun way. Try out the courses with a free lesson!