Where can I learn to speak Italian outside of school?
Italian, Italiano or lingua Italiana is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. 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 City. 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.
Let's now see how you can gain Italian language knowledge out of school!
There are plenty of resources (which, in my opinion, are better than school classes) that you can use to improve upon your knowledge of Italian:
One-to-one Italian classes at a local language school. Whilst these can be costly, I found these to be the most effective way of learning the basics of Italian as you have a dedicated teacher.
Learn a language for free using online apps such as Duolingo, Babbel, Memrise, Anki, Multibhashi etc These apps are very convenient, as you can study from them whenever you wish and use it whenever you have spare time. The apps also keep you glued to the subject byways of interesting quizzes.
Going the immersion way!
Alternatively, you could choose to spend some time in France or a francophone country! This is highly recommended once you have an idea of the basics of a language. You may feel out of your depth at first, but it is a really good way of rapidly improving your Italian.
Sign up for exchange programs
Find an external company who can help you find an Italian host family to stay with during the holidays.
Explore multiple resources
Surveys and reviews have shown that most people learn a new language through consistent usage of the language in any manner around them. It could be in the form of reading comic books, playing video games, reading storybooks, listening to podcasts, listening to Spotify playlist, listening to audiobooks, watching movies and so on and so forth. It’s an entertaining way of learning not only about the language but also their culture.
Curate a list of movies for yourself with a little google research. Listen to Italian movies with English subtitles and English movies with Italian subtitles, so you could learn it both ways and get a hang of the actual spoken language. Watch your favourite Italian television shows with English subtitles and vice-versa!
Find conversation partners for yourself through language exchange programs online – they will keep you motivated by challenging you every day even when you are not motivated. There are plenty of language exchange programs that you can enrol online in the event you don’t have an Italian native speaker around you in your neighbourhood or community. To be able to master your spoken language you could explore language exchange programs such as Conversation Exchange, HelloTalk, Meetup, Italki or social platforms such as Quora, Lang-8, Facebook groups, WhatsApp chat and man more. These exchange programs offer you helpful features such as texting, voice notes, calls in addition to finding you a native Italian speaker to hold conversations with!
Alternatively, seek competitive partners
Sparring partners are people who want to learn your native language and speak the language I want to master.
YouTube is your good friend.
I personally recommend exploring a number of available channels, including but not limited to: Learn Italian with Alexa etcetera.
Borrow books from a nearby library written in Italian (even children’s books to start with) or meant for learning the language?
Read short stories/children stories in Italian.
Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia and is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. 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.
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