So you want to know how to speak Italian. You’re in good company! Millions of people around the world embark on the journey to learn Italian all the time. There are many reasons why learning how to speak Italian is a worthwhile endeavor. Not only do you get to know the many people and places of the Italian-speaking world, but you also get to build your mental muscles by learning a new skill.
There are a couple things you’ll need to know if you want to know how to speak Italian. Of course, learning how to speak Italian takes time, effort, practice and patience. But don’t worry! With the right tools and teachers, you’ll soon know how to speak Italian with confidence.
How To Speak Italian: What You’ll Learn
Learning how to speak Italian means getting to know all the components of the Italian language: pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, among others. Each is essential in its own way to mastering Italian! Keep reading to learn more.
How To Speak Italian: Spelling And Pronouncing Italian Words
One of the most important things to do when you want to know how to speak Italian is to learn about Italian pronunciation. After all, you can’t actually speak the language if you don’t know how to speak Italian out loud!
Luckily for those learning how to speak Italian, each letter of the Italian alphabet typically has one and only one pronunciation. This makes Italian spelling much more uniform than that of English, which can be inconsistent and totally nonsensical sometimes. (Think about how a non-English speaker might struggle with words like “cough,” “colonel” and “knight.”) That makes it easy to know how to say a Italian word aloud just by looking at it.
There are a few spelling rules that require a little extra practice, however, like how certain letters change sounds when combined with other particular letters. For example, the letters c and g before a, o, or u sounds like the hard “c” and “g” sounds in the English “cat” and “gate,” respectively, but they sound like the “ch” and “j” sounds in English when before e or i in words like voce (“voice”) and cibo (“food”) or in gesso (“chalk”) or pagina (“page”).
Another sound that’s quite unfamiliar to native English speakers is the gn in words like gnocchi (a type of dough dumpling) or agnello (“lamb”), which sounds like the “ny” in words like “canyon.” These are some of the several pronunciation rules, among others, that you’ll need to get to know as you learn Italian.
For the most part, though, Italian pronunciation isn’t all too tricky. With enough practice and patience, you’ll master it with ease!
How To Speak Italian: Vocabulary In Italian
Learning a new language means you’ve got to get really familiar with the words that make up that language. If you want to know how to speak Italian, you’re of course going to have to get familiar with Italian vocabulary. After all, you can’t actually use a new language without knowing the words, expressions and phrases that make up that language! The more Italian vocabulary you know, the more you’re able to talk about everything in your world — from what you do for work to your hobbies to your favorite colors and foods to the weather outside and everything in between. Plus, if you know authentic Italian phrases, you'll sound just like a native speaker.
The most effective way to remember Italian vocabulary and phrases is to focus on the words and expressions that interest you the most instead of wasting time on vocabulary you find boring or will never actually use. You can tailor your Italian vocabulary to your careers, hobbies, passions and everyday experiences and fill in the gaps where you want more words. This could include Italian for business or the medical profession. Or perhaps you like talking about sports, the entertainment industry or politics. You can create your own specialized Italian vocabulary depending on what’s important to you in your learning journey.
How To Speak Italian: Grammar In Italian
Learning the grammar of any foreign language can be tricky, especially if it’s very different from the grammar of the language or languages you already speak. Naturally, if you want to know how to speak Italian, you’re going to have to get to know Italian grammar. Luckily, many parts of Italian grammar are easy to understand once you get a grasp on them.
There are, however, some elements of Italian grammar that are known to be more difficult for learners than others are — especially those elements that are more unfamiliar to native English speakers, like complex verb conjugations or gendered nouns, tricky concepts many Italian learners have trouble mastering.
You might struggle with some aspects of Italian grammar and breeze through others. A lot of what you’ll find easy depends on the language or languages you already speak and how similar they are to Italian. And you can’t forget that everyone learns differently, so the parts of Italian grammar that give you trouble might be a piece of cake for someone else, and vice versa.
How To Speak Italian: The Best Methods For Learning Italian
If you want to know how to speak Italian, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices out there for how to get started. But it’s important to remember that there’s no right answer. Each method for learning how to speak Italian has its own advantages and limitations, so you should choose the methods that work best for you!
- Classroom learning and tutoring — You’ll get more regular, personalized feedback from an instructor and be able to practice speaking, but it can take a regular commitment of time and often money, and you might not be able to work at your own pace.
- Immersion learning — You’ll be challenged and required to adapt more quickly to a new language and culture, but the investment is quite extreme and requires money, time and the willingness to overcome major adversity.
- Software and apps — You can work at your own pace and choose content that works for you, but you don’t get as much practice in conversations with actual speakers, and you won’t get individualized interaction with native speakers.
- Italian-language media — Through Italian books, movies, TV shows and podcasts, you get to hear and read the Italian language as it’s used by native speakers in real situations (and often for free), but you don’t get to practice speaking or learn the underlying rules and nuances of the language.
Of course, the best way to learn Italian is finding the right mix of all these elements that work well for you. And there’s no wrong answer! Part of learning how to speak Italian is figuring out which methods fit your schedule, budget, and learning style.
Find out more about the best ways to learn how to speak Italian.
How To Speak Italian With Babbel
If you want to know how to speak Italian like a real italofono, Babbel has you covered.
Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality Italian learning journey that’s educational, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Babbel’s Italian lessons are designed to strengthen your skills in the four areas of language learning — reading, writing, speaking and listening — and make sure the content you’re learning is committed to your long-term memory. Helpful tips along the way help you reinforce what you’re learning by making connections in new ways.
Lessons introduce new words and expressions in stages, focusing on vocabulary that applies in conversations with actual native speakers — not nonsensical or impractical words that you’ll never use. And almost every lesson features a simulated real-life dialogue to help you put what you’re learning about Italian grammar into context in the sorts of conversations you’d be having with native speakers.
If you want to know how to speak Italian with confidence, what are you waiting for? Try a Babbel Italian lesson today!