Learn Italian for beginners? If it sounds too good to be true, it’s actually… not! 

This article has been hand crafted by yours truly to provide you with a structured approach to learning Italian using the SMART method. 

Together, you and I are going to figure out how to learn Italian by fleshing out why you want to learn it in the first place. Then, we’ll see how to set a meaningful start date, the importance of getting organized from the get-go, choosing the right resources (the less the better) and a little bit of special advice I’ve saved for the end of this article.

Why wait? Let’s get started, right now! Forza, andiamo! 

Start With WHY

Before you dive into learning Italian, it's crucial to understand your motivation. Ask yourself why you want to learn Italian. Having a clear "why" can keep you motivated and focused throughout your learning journey. 

Make a list of specific reasons why you want to learn the language. It could be for travel, connecting with family, exploring Italian culture, or even professional reasons. Take 30 minutes (or more, if you need it) to jot down these reasons and create a vision for your language learning journey. A helpful resource for this exercise is my SEE video on YouTube, which provides a structured way to visualize your goals. 

The more detailed your vision is, the stronger your bond will be to the language. Whether you’re ordering gelato in Florence or taking a Venetian gondola ride with Monica Bellucci, figure out what future version of yourself (using the Italian language) would motivate and inspire you to study. 

Decide on a Specific Date

Setting a specific start date for your Italian learning journey is crucial. This date should be meaningful to you, as it will help anchor your commitment. For instance, 

I typically start learning new languages sometime in September, because that’s when school starts for most Europeans. In my case, “back to school” signifies “back to learning languages.” However, I haven’t lived and died by September, because other times I will start a language in January, renewing myself with the New Year.  In fact, in 2024 that’s precisely when I started learning Turkish.  

For you, the date might be different, but it should hold personal significance. Much like a wedding date or a birthday, it should be exciting. 

Choosing a start date adds a sense of urgency and importance to your goal. It transforms a vague intention into a concrete plan. So, take a moment to think about a date that resonates with you and mark it on your calendar.

For example, “On August 13th, I will begin learning Italian online.”  By then, I will have created my Italian learning vision and chosen a resource.   More on that in the next point. 

Get Organized to Get Going

Preparation is key to a successful Italian learning journey, beginner or not. Before you start, get organized by deciding when, where, and how you will actually study. This step helps create a structured learning environment that can significantly boost your productivity, consistency and commitment.

Consider when you'll have dedicated time to learn Italian. Will it be in the morning, during lunch breaks, or in the evening? Choose a consistent time slot that fits your schedule. Next, think about where you'll study. It could be at home, a café, or a library. Having a designated study space can help you focus better.

Personally, I learn most  of my languages first thing in the morning at my favorite cafe.  It’s my happy spot and allows me to get into language learning mode (or in your case, Italian learning mode). 

Finally, decide on how you will study. Will you be learning via online Italian courses, textbooks, in a classroom or a useful app? If you need more guidance on organizing your study plan, check out other articles on this blog that delve into effective study habits and time management for language learners.

There Can Be Only ONE

When it comes to learning Italian for beginners, the paradox of choice can be overwhelming. You can go the paid route or even learn Italian online for free, but you’ll have to make a choice instead of stockpiling a bunch of resources that you’ll never get through.

To avoid this, choose one and only one resource to start with. This could be a comprehensive course like Assimil, an engaging platform like ItalianPod101, or if you’re willing to wait until the end of July, the SMART Language Learning Academy may have a new course just for you . 

Using a single resource allows you to focus your efforts and avoid the confusion that comes with juggling multiple tools. Assimil, for instance, offers a structured approach with a focus on intuitive learning through dialogues and exercises. ItalianPod101 provides audio and video lessons with cultural insights, which can be highly engaging for learners.

By committing to one resource, you streamline your learning process and make steady progress without feeling overwhelmed.

Make Italian Intonation and Pronunciation a Priority

Pronunciation and intonation are critical aspects of learning Italian. From the beginning, focus on getting these right to build a strong foundation. Italian pronunciation is relatively straightforward, but the intonation can be tricky for beginners.

Start by listening to native speakers and mimicking their speech patterns. Pay attention to the rhythm, stress, and melody of the language. You can find plenty of resources online, such as LingQ or the Easy Italian channel on YouTube, and podcasts, that focus on Italian pronunciation and intonation.

Practicing with a language partner or a tutor can also be beneficial. They can provide immediate feedback and help you correct any mistakes early on. The goal is to sound as natural as possible, which will boost your confidence and make communication easier.

Make the Most Out of One Resource

A language resource is just a tool, and like any tool, you need to learn how to use it effectively. Many beginners make the mistake of passively consuming content without actively engaging with it. To truly learn Italian, you need to extract skills, not just knowledge.

For example, if you're using the Assimil course, don't just read the dialogues and do the exercises. Practice speaking the dialogues out loud, mimic the intonation, and use the vocabulary in your own sentences. Similarly, if you're using ItalianPod101, actively participate in the lessons, repeat after the speakers, and take notes.

The more engaged you are, the better your results will be. 

The BDT (Bi-Directional Translation) course emphasizes the importance of active learning. This means engaging with the material, practicing regularly, and testing yourself frequently. The more you interact with the language, the better you'll retain what you learn.

Alla Fine

Learning Italian for beginners doesn't have to be overwhelming. By following the tips I’ve outlined above, you can create a structured and effective learning plan. Start with understanding your motivation, then set a meaningful start date, get organized, choose one resource, focus on pronunciation and intonation, and learn how to use your chosen tool effectively.

Remember, learning a language is a journey, not a destination. 

Stay motivated, practice regularly, and enjoy the process. 

As the Italian proverb goes, "Chi ben comincia è a metà dell'opera" – Well begun is half done or a good start is half the battle. 

Happy language learning, my friends!

Written by Luca Lampariello

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links.

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  • I have been focusing solely on German for the last five months. I am committed to concentrating on German for the rest of July. Whilst German will go into “maintenance mode” I want to concentrate on one of my other languages for the remainder of 2024. My dilemma is – should it be Spanish or Italian? Convince me it should be Italian – I am already leaning in that direction and with what I already know (or have temporarily forgotten!) I am sure I can achieve CEFR B2 by the New Year. Writing this has helped me make a decision – I am 90% sure it will be Italian and I will do the “visioning” exercise in July. The thought of returning to Matteo and Katie on Easy Italian may well tip the balance. Advice on a good course book for somebody who is a rusty CEFR A2 would be welcome. Ciao!

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