Ciao a tutti! We're going to be getting extra use out of our "ciao" today. :)
I'm currently studying Italian. I'm nowhere near fluent but I'm having lots of fun learning this beautiful language. It occurred to me that some of you might be fellow Italophiles, planning a trip to Italy, or learning a different language but would like some tips.
One thing I've learned about daily language practice is that you get tired of the same practices and sites over and over. But if you're serious about learning a foreign language, you can't let it kill your buzz.
So how can you spice up your language practice while still expanding your knowledge? Well, do I have a list for you. I've compiled twenty-five different ways for you to study your language. That includes reading, writing, meeting people, cooking, and some other fun activities. While I've included links to the Italian resources, you can use these tips for any language.
Without further ado...fun ways to learn a language!
My family has pretty much become obsessed with this app/website. You can choose from 38 different languages to learn. The focus of this app is quick, daily repetition. (Warning: keeping up a daily streak of language practice can be addicting!) You'll learn new vocab and grammar, fun phrases for conversation, and practice things you've already learned. As you climb up the leaderboard, a cheerful cartoon owl will cheer you on.
There are funny phrases in every language. One of my favorite ones in Italian is "Chi si loda, s'imbroda," which means: "He who praises himself, gets broth on himself." Learning these funny sayings will help you sound like a native and is more interesting than daily grammar practice. Check out these Italian sayings about food.
This has been my favorite online resource for learning Italian. It's not free (although you can test it out with a free trial) but it's definitely worth it. There are tons of online lessons, each themed around something, like going to an Italian opera. The speakers, Maria and Alex, walk you through a conversation, teaching you Italian vocab, grammar, sentence structure, and culture. You then work through several activities, take tests, practice with online flashcards, and more.
One of the best things about this program is the microphone feature. You can speak into the microphone and it will tell you how well you're pronouncing the phrases, what parts of the words you need to emphasize, etc.
You didn't think I could make a language learning list without flashcards, did you? This simple tool is effective and easy to create on just a few note cards.
Reading is a great way to learn more about how to piece together sentences and how natives talk.
I love this book, full of Italian short stories for beginner to intermediate speakers. It'll help you pick up authentic phrases, reinforce vocabulary, and besides, it's just fun.
These classic fairy tales told in Italian are free online. You can read the words on the screen while a narrator reads to you. Just starting out? Don't worry, you can click the translate button to break down each section of the story.
Not learning Italian? These stories can also be read in English, French, German, or Spanish.
I know what you're thinking...Pinterest? The website for saving recipe and clothing ideas?
But Pinterest has actually been helpful for me. There are all these Italian doodles, phrases, and vocab words that people have uploaded online. Simply search "Italian vocabulary" or "Spanish words for food." Check out my Pinterest board full of phrases, words, and cultural tips.
Personally, I love being a pen pal. What's more fun than getting an honest-to-goodness letter in the mail? Believe it or not, you can become pen pals with someone in another country...and learn a language while you're at it.
I have used the website Global Pen Friends to find my current Italian snail mail friend. At first I was a little hesitant, but the website has been completely safe. It matches you with several people based on language, region, gender, and age. You can then get in contact with them through the website and get to know them before revealing personal information. Just remember to stay safe and make sure you really know who you're sending a letter to!
I always look forward to getting these letters now. My pen pal and I decided to both write partially in English and partially in Italian. I've already learned more of the language and about the culture. Besides, we send each other fun things like tea packets and pressed four-leaf clovers!
Write Out Your Morning Routine
Writing out anything in a foreign language really gets your brain going. I feel like it helps you recognize the gaps in your knowledge, as well as get used to stringing sentences together. Write out your morning routine, your night routine, your favorite things to do...anything that gets your language juices flowing.
Write a Journal Entry
Just like I mentioned above, writing anything in a foreign language can be beneficial to your learning. Try keeping a diary in the language you're trying to learn. It will help you lock in words that you'll use everyday.
Start a Language Notebook
Try keeping a notebook full of phrases, words, and language rules. There are so many benefits to this, and it's a great resource to look at whenever you forget how to say something. Unsure of where to start? Read this post on how to keep a language notebook.
Read this next: The 4 Best Italian Appetizers
Listening to podcasts is a fun thing to do while driving or getting ready, and these language learning podcasts will help you learn to speak like a native. I've been listening to the Italian podcast Quattro Stagioni lately. Check out list of 5 Podcasts For Learning Italian.
Listening to music is just plain fun and surprisingly helpful. Create playlists full of Italian songs, listen to them while doing activities, and try to understand the lyrics. Click here to learn more about using Spotify for language learning.
That's right: you can use movies to learn Italian! I love La Vita É Bella and Disney films. You're going to want to watch these movies several times and write down phrases and inflections to really get the most out of it. Learn more about watching a movie in a foreign language and learning Italian through films.
YouTube is one of my favorite Italian resources and feels a lot more fun than flipping through flashcards all the time. Here are a few of my favorite Italian YouTubers:
Kylie Flavell is an Australian expat stationed in Italy. She's fluent in Italian and her love for the country is shown in beautiful filmwork. She shares recipes, interviews Italians, teaches Italian lessons, and more. Here are two of my favorite Italian lessons from her.
The channel Easy Italian features a couple (one a native Italian, one who learned the language later and now speaks fluently) dedicated to teaching others the language. They speak in colloquial Italian with English subtitles as they teach you the language: sometimes focusing on a specific phrase or interviewing Italians on the streets.
Looking for something a little more fun? Adriana Spink definitely brings that to the table. She's an Italian hair and beauty YouTuber. Her focus isn't to teach you Italian, so she might speak a little faster than the others on this list. However, she's great if you're wanting to pick up native phrases. Don't understand everything? That's completely fine. Just focus on the hairstyles and pick up words as you go along.
Everyone loves Italian food...so why not learn Italian while you're at it? Look up recipes in that language and try to follow along. Or you can watch videos like these, with instructions in Italian and English.
Learn About a Holiday
Do a little research on how people living in Italy celebrate certain holidays, what they eat on a normal day, etc. You'll learn more about the culture and the people who live there. Bonus points if you write out a report in the language you're learning!
Read this next: Must-See Sights in Naples, Italy
Talk to Yourself
I know it sounds a little crazy, but talking to yourself can be beneficial if you don't have a language learning partner. Just talk out loud about what you're about to do, what you think about a topic...anything really. Learning the accent and the flow of the language will get easier.
If you're learning a language, the purpose is most likely so that you can speak to other people. So try it! Talking with a native speaker is best. If you don't know one, there are several resources online where you can meet up, chat online, or call people who speak that language.
If you know someone else who's trying to learn the same language you are, you can meet up with them too. Be intentional with speaking that language and try to help one another out.
Talk to Your Pet
Can't find a language buddy? That's okay. Just chat to your favorite pet, or even to a picture on the wall. It might be a little easier for you than talking to yourself, and you'll get the feel of speaking out loud without the pressure of carrying on a conversation.
Record Yourself Talking
While you may feel weird chatting to a microphone at first, recording yourself speaking a foreign language can be super helpful. You'll be able to try out new phrases you're learning, track your progress, and listen to your pronunciation.
Write a Grocery List
Next time you're about to head to the store, write out your grocery list in a different language. It'll enforce your vocab, and experiencing it in real life will help those words stick in your head.
Change Your Phone Settings
Change your phone settings to the language you want to learn, or even just a specific app. Right now, my Spotify default language is Italian and it's helped me think more in Italian and pick up a few new phrases. Just make sure you know how to change the settings back if you're stuck in a pickle!
Ready to chat in real life? Use Duolingo Events to find other Italian speakers around the world to meet in person. It's a great way to chat with people even if you don't live by other native speakers, and there's less pressure because everyone's in the same boat. As always, just remember to stay safe, meet in a public place, and always let someone know where you're going.
An easy way to infuse language learning into your everyday life is to follow Italian speakers on social media. You'll get a short burst of language learning, as well as picking up natural phrases.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know in the comments if you'd like to see more language learning content. Do you speak Italian? What language are you trying to learn? Ciao, Zoe.