The ultimate guide to learning Italian vocabulary
Italian, Italiano or lingua Italiana is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. It is known as the language of music because of its use in musical terminology and opera; numerous Italian words referring to music have become international terms taken into various languages worldwide. Its influence is also widespread in the arts and in the food and luxury goods markets. Many Italian speakers are native bilinguals of both Italian (either in its standard form or regional varieties) and other regional languages. It is also widely spoken in Luxemburg, Germany, and Belgium, United States, Canada, Venezuela, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. . It has official minority status in western Istria (Croatia and Slovenia). It is the second most widely spoken native language in the European Union with 67 million speakers (15% of the EU population) and it is spoken as a second language by 13.4 million EU citizens (3%). Including Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland, Albania and the United Kingdom) and on other continents, the total number of speakers is approximately 85 million.
Vocabulary is a topic that finds introduction much after you have learnt consonants, vowels and grammar rules.
In order to be able to learn the vocabulary of any language there are a few common steps that each beginner could follow; let's now have a quick look at these:
- Apply the LSRW (Listen, Speak, Read, Write) technique to every study material you get hold of!
- The Italian language contains over 250,000 words. If we include the dialetti (dialects), the total number rises to nearly a million. You should never stop learning new words because there are so many. If you are unsure where to begin, simply select one of the dialects and begin exploring it!
- Try to capture as many new words as possible that are commonly used in day to day conversations.Learn the correct usage of a word. Understand the technicalities/grammar rules which direct how a particular word is to be used in different situations/ context, differently.
- Find reliable resources that can help you learn online or offline. Try SRS (flashcards) apps such as Anki and Memrise. Use the internet to its fullest capability. Use Mnemonics.
- Learn via an immersive technique. Label objects in your home with their respective names in the target language. Whenever you are comfortable, change the language of your devices to be able to see it every day and get pushed to learn as a way to understand
- Read a lot of literature, including children’s books, newspaper, magazines, online blogs, articles, social media posts and much more.
- Watch online movies, videos, YouTube videos, documentaries, talk shows, and soap operas to capture the accent and the way the words are pronounced. Use shadowing technique to assist you in speech and accent. Speak a lot with your pet, a plant or yourself in the mirror.
- Shadow the dialogues you hear to the closest accent, no matter how weird or funny it sounds. Even if you are able to effectively copy only 10% of the pronunciations and accents you hear in the audio clips for videos to begin with, believe me when I say it’s a victory in itself!
- Listen to as many reliable resources as you can find, Italian music, audiobooks, audio resources, stories that you can find, to register the correct pronunciation of the word being used and of course recognize which word is being used in which context and to garner commonly spoken words in day to day life.
- Set attainable short and long term measurable goals to learn new words consciously is the best strategy you could start with!
- Setting attainable goals is also an excellent way to keep yourself motivated while learning a new language.
- Set goals that you truly want to achieve. Be realistic. Do not be overzealous or overambitious and bring yourself to the misery of burnout.
- Study diligently. Dedicate at least 2 hours of learning and 2 hours of practising the Italian language.
- Use the Pomodoro technique to divide the study into smaller achievable chunks.
- If you’re not sure what to do, I following the mentioned recommendations:
- Do not be over-ambitious and try learning complex words until you have a good hang of the language; for a very simple reason. Most of the conversations that are held each day by Italian speakers do not use such complicated words. Instead of day to day conversation utilizes the most simplistic of the words such as milk, dog, pen, paper, phone, etcetera.
- Keep a journal or a diary handy with you, at all times, so as to be able to capture all and any new word(s) or phrases that you come across from online audio or video source that you may be listening or watching while on your way to work or back from work.
- Another very helpful way for you to gather really good vocabulary for yourself, to be able to hold your first conversation with the Italian speaker, would be to consciously look for phrases to add in your vocabulary rather than only the words. Look for relevant phrases that contain the word you learnt. So when you get familiar with the word ‘good’ or ‘morning’, I suggest you add phrases such as Good morning, Good morning to you, Isn’t it such a good morning? or What a good morning it is! in your vocabulary bank. It may also be useful to learn related words in clusters such as the word’s synonyms and or antonyms.
- I also strongly recommend learners of Italian to keep an English Italian Dictionary handy to refer to whenever needed.
- It might also be worth a try to break the words into parts that help you memorize the word when you remove the prefix or suffix from it. With this effort, you would also be able to remember its prefix and suffix and the context in which they were used with the word. Breaking a word also helps a learner understand the conjugations used behind the word.
- One could also use Mnemonics to remember the pronunciation of the Italian word until the time a learner Learns to write in the Italian language. A similar effect in learning is seen when learners use flashcards to eat to their learning such cards would be colour coded for nouns, verbs, adjectives for antonyms and synonyms or anything as they please.
- Reading magazines, newspapers and children’s books in Italian would further enhance your vocabulary, as it introduces you to new words each day. I would also like to add that when you start to learn these words, do try to register and jot down the context in which the particular word was used. This will enable a learner to register the correct usage of the word and remember it henceforth.
- I suggest that as an Italian learner you actively look to gather new words each day from multiple sources.
- You could also improve your vocabulary by playing online word building games for offline games such as scrabble et cetera.
- Try taking casual vocabulary tests to test your vocabulary knowledge and how much you retain of your vocab lists;
- Find yourself a native Italian speaker to be able to practice speaking Italian with you could find one in and around your neighbourhood, if not, there are plenty of websites offering you conversation partners such as Hello Talk, Italki, Tandem etcetera.
- You could use your own methods to remember the Italian words and phrases, in ‘pairs or opposites’ or ‘clusters of the similars’ or if you are a visual learner you could use pictures to remember.
- Last but the most important suggestion: NEVER miss practising, practise whatever you have learnt regularly. Get into the rhythm of practice, correct, repeat! Remember there is no escape from practice and this is the only way you will be able to learn Italian or any other language of your choice.
Italian is, by most measures together with Sardinian, the closest language to Latin, from which it descends via Vulgar Latin. Italian is the national, or de facto national, official language in Italy, Switzerland (Ticino and the Grisons), San Marino, and Vatican CityItalian is a major European language. Italian is the main working language of the Holy See, serving as the lingua franca (common language) in the Roman Catholic hierarchy as well as the official language of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. In modern Italy, people communicate mostly in regional dialects, although standard Italian is the only written language. It is estimated that about half of Italy’s population does not speak standard Italian as a native language. It is one of the official languages of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and one of the working languages of the Council of Europe.
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