There are lots of reasons why you might want to learn Italian. If you enjoy Italian holidays, you may be frustrated at being unable to make conversation with the people you meet, or you might feel braver going to small, lesser known towns and villages if you are confident that you will be able to ask for what you want. Or you might be looking to boost your career by adding the Italian language to your CV so that you can cope with foreign business trips or help to entertain overseas visitors. Of course, there are many other reasons for learning Italian, from listening to opera in its original language to dating an Italian!
Once you have decided to learn Italian, there are lots of options available. Many people choose to sign up for an Italian language class at a university, adult education institute or private college. This has the advantage of regular practice and working in a group, but you cannot always go at your own pace. Also, you cannot always guarantee that there will be a class at the right level near to your home.
Learning Italian through private tuition from a native speaker is an alternative, although this can be expensive and you may not be able to find a teacher in your area. You could also spend a week or two at a language school in Italy. This would result in significant excellent exposure to the language, especially if you want to learn Italian in a short space of time but, again, it is an expensive choice and it might not fit in with your schedule.
If you want the maximum flexibility, it is likely that you will look for a way of studying the Italian language on your own. There are lots of self-study books, CDs and DVDs on the market which will teach you the basics of grammar and conversation. There are also apps available for the iPhone or iPad. Learning Italian this way has the advantage of being relatively cheap and very flexible; you can listen to the recordings in the car, on the train or even while out jogging! The main disadvantage of this method is that it is not interactive, and there is no one to correct you if you make a mistake.
One method of learning Italian that you might like to consider is the innovative approach used by Babbel. Babbel offers a friendly, economic, online learning service and uses a mixture of techniques to help you to acquire the Italian language. It is fully flexible, allowing you to learn at your own pace, and includes exercises for reading, writing, listening and speaking. Because it is online, you can enter your answers to questions (or use voice recognition technology if you have a microphone), and get instant feedback. The site is very user friendly, being ad-free and easy to use. It is fun too, with lessons based on real life situations such as conversations about food and drink. If you want to learn Italian, it is definitely worth trying Babbel.com.