The Best Ways To Learn Italian At Home For Cheap

How is your quarantine coming along? Are you getting bored with Netflix yet? This might be the perfect time to learn a new language. We have endless free time and most of us are looking for something to occupy our minds. Plenty of us are out of work and can’t spend the money on expensive lessons, but if you are interested in learning Italian I have some great options for you.

Capri June 2018 Glam Italia Tour

When I started learning Italian I couldn’t afford to take classes. I was a single parent, working 7 days per week to keep a roof over our heads and there wasn’t any spare money, let alone spare money to spend on myself to take classes. Also I didn’t have time to commute across town to physically go to classes. But I really, really wanted to learn the language, so I had to get creative.

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3 Ways To Learn Italian While We Are On Quarantine.

If you are planning a trip to Italy at some time in the future you might enjoy using some of this down time to learn some Italian. Now that I’m no longer flying to Italy next month I decided to use this time to improve my language skills, so this weekend I pulled out my Italian text books and am committing to spending a half hour per day learning Italian. (No matter how good you are at a language there is always room for improvement)

Marina Grande, Capri

1. Listen

When I started learning Italian there really weren’t podcasts like there are now. I did manage to find a couple of lightweight, fun podcast-like audio programs on iTunes that I would listen to on my commute. There are some great podcasts to help you learn Italian available now. Although they aren’t enough by themselves they are still really helpful!

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 At home I played Radio Italia on my computer while I was working or writing my blog posts. Listening to easy voices talking about music and ordering coffee (rather than politics or anything heavy) got me used to the sing-song sounds of the language and the rhythms of conversation. Most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about, but as I started learning the language it started making sense.

2. Use Books

The cheapest way for me to start really learning the language was to buy some inexpensive workbooks and see A) if I could do it and B) if I was really interested in pursuing it or if it was just a phase I was going through.

Barron's Italian Now! Text book
Italian Now! is a great place to start

I bought three Italian text books that became the backbone of me learning the language. Italian Now, Italian Verb Drills and Italian Grammar Drills. These were fantastic. I would always have one of them with me and work away on it during downtime on photoshoots, at my son’s music lessons, or anytime I had a free moment. The books are full of exercises and have a marking key in the back of the book, so you can check on your progress each day.

Nanni Tate Italian Verb Drills
Italian Verb Drills is the best book I’ve found for learning and practicing Italian verbs

I advise starting with Italian Now and Italian Verb Drills.  Italian Now is a good all round beginner book and gives you some structure to follow.

Italian Verb Drills in my opinion is an essential book for anyone learning the language. Italian is a very verb driven language, so it is important to learn the main verbs and how to conjugate them. The exercises in this book are very repetitive but you’ll find that in no time your brain just automatically conjugates the verbs without you even thinking about it.

Italian Grammar Drills is also really helpful and is full of exercises to do to get you in the habit of using good grammar. In my opinion as a traveler it doesn’t really matter if your grammar isn’t so good. No one is expecting you to speak grammatically perfect Italian on your vacation. If you have a decent understanding of verbs and know some vocabulary you will do just fine, but if you can start learning grammar from the beginning it will become automatic and is so much easier than trying to add it in later.


Multi Media

Once I realized that I was going to see this learning Italian thing through and not give up after a couple of weeks, I saved up and bought Rosetta Stone Italian. Initially I just bought the first level, but later bought the entire set.

Rosetta Stone Italian Level 1-5
Rosetta Stone Italian

I’ve done languages my whole life and I really think this is the best system I have ever seen or used. Rosetta makes your brain learn the language the same way a baby or a child learns. Most language programs have you learning by translation, memorizing vocabulary and translating from your language into the new language. This is a really difficult way of learning as you are perpetually translating, so in real life situations you are a couple of seconds behind as your brain moves words from English over to Italian.

Rosetta Stone screenshot

Instead of translating, Rosetta teaches your brain to recognize pictures and identify them in the new language. You see a picture of a house and your brain immediately says Casa rather than house = casa. In each learning block they teach you visually then give you an audio section where you keep repeating the words in that lesson until your pronunciation is correct. Then it takes you into reading and writing the words and phrases.

It’s the same way you learn your own language growing up. You go at your own pace, so there’s no pressure, and the program keeps giving you tests along the way so everything stays current in your brain.

It’s easy to see why international businesses and government agencies like the CIA use Rosetta Stone to teach their people languages. I’m a huge fan!

Rosetta Stone teaches lots of different languages, so if you want to learn French or German or Spanish or any other language during this quarantine break, you really can take your pick.

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