4. Listen to Italian music and podcasts
Since learning a new language is easier when you first master the pronunciation, it’s worth setting aside some time to listen to Italian music and podcasts. Not only will this help you familiarize yourself with the tones and sounds, but it will also give you a bit of an insight into Italian culture and spark your curiosity to learn more.
One study even found that listening and singing along to foreign-language songs can facilitate language learning.
5. Watch Italian movies and TV shows
Watching subtitled Italian movies and TV shows is another way to learn to recognize and repeat novel Italian tones and sounds. Research also shows that watching subtitled media is effective in helping us learn foreign languages.
One study by researchers from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona found that exposing Spanish students of English to an English TV show with Spanish subtitles for just one hour resulted in improved speech perception.
6. Make your learning practical
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with how the Italian language sounds and are ready to begin learning some vocabulary, try to focus on practical phrases that you’ll use in everyday situations. Research shows that context, or in other words, how words relate to the situation they might arise in, is important in language learning.
In this way, we can begin to understand and predict meaning before we actually encounter specific words. For instance, who is involved in a conversation? What’s the theme of a conversation? Where might the conversation be taking place? By linking certain words or phrases you’re learning to specific situations, you’ll be more likely to remember them.
If you need some inspiration for this, check out our free Italian lessons on our learning Italian blog, here. It’s all about practical applications of the Italian language in daily life.
7. Read Italian children’s books
Research shows that visual cues can enhance learning by helping us better retrieve and recall information, even years down the line. With this in mind, another way to remember more of the new Italian vocabulary you’re learning is to use visual cues, such as pictures, to represent the words and phrases you are learning.
Since children’s books are full of illustrations and images as well as simple phrases, they can be useful learning tools for adult language-learners.
8. Follow the Italian news
Wondering how to learn Italian fast? Reading, watching, or listening to Italian news is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the culture while also familiarizing yourself with unfamiliar words and sounds. One benefit of the news is that it’s written in a standardized way or read out in standard dialect, which can make it easier for beginners to follow than a TV show that’s peppered with slang or colloquial language.
While you certainly won’t understand everything right away, you can start by writing down any new words and pausing to look them up. You’ll soon find that you can understand more and more of the news stories you’re reading or listening to.
9. Teach someone a few Italian words
Research shows that teaching others can help you better understand and retain that knowledge yourself. This is known as the learning-by-teaching effect. Although the exact reasons for this are not yet fully understood, it makes sense that teaching would help you organize what you’ve learned in order to explain it to someone else in simpler terms.
Teaching can also help you identify gaps in your knowledge and then work on strengthening these weaker areas. So why not find a friend or family member who would like to learn some Italian and teach them some of the things you’ve learned so far?
10. Read the labels on food products
Since learning is more effective when it’s engaging, one different approach you can take to learning Italian vocabulary is reading the labels on various Italian food products. Doing this will also give you a chance to see familiar words used in different contexts.
For example, you could try to follow some of the cooking instructions or serving suggestions and look up any unfamiliar words as you go along. If you’re not based in Italy, you could still look for Italian supermarkets or online retailers that stock Italian food products.
11. Try cooking more Italian recipes
On a similar note, research has also shown that active learning is more effective than traditional lectures or lessons. So, since food is such a big part of Italian culture, why not make an effort to cook more traditional Italian recipes at home?
It’s a fun way to expose yourself to novel ingredients while also learning new words associated with food and cooking, from “le polpette” and “melanzane” to “al dente” and “alla brace.”
12. Find native speakers to practice with
When learning a new language, studies show that receiving immediate feedback is very important, not least because it helps you correct any mistakes you might be making with pronunciation or word order.
So what can you do to get immediate feedback? One of the easiest ways is to simply find native Italian speakers you can converse with. If you aren’t in Italy and don’t personally know any Italians, you can also look for virtual events and foreign language exchange groups, such as Meetup.
13. Study before bed
Even something as simple as the time of day you choose to study can make a big difference to your learning. Research published in Psychological Science found that while both repeated practice and sleep can improve long-term retention of information, getting a good night’s sleep between two learning sessions is the most effective strategy.
In fact, the researchers found that when participants studied in the evening; went to sleep, and then studied again the next morning, it not only resulted in better long-term retention but also reduced the amount of practice they needed by half.
14. Read out loud
Although reading silently can certainly play a role in your language learning, you’re more likely to remember something when you say it out loud. This has been dubbed the “production effect,” and researchers have found that the dual action of speaking and hearing yourself speak can have a beneficial impact on long-term memory.
So the next time you’re skimming Italian text or trying to make sense of a new recipe you found, try reading it out loud instead.
15. Keep handwritten notes
Do you take notes during your study sessions? Or maybe you like to write down unfamiliar Italian words you come across throughout the day so you can look them up later.
Research shows that when taking notes, using a pen and paper rather than your phone or a laptop will not only help you remember more but could also deepen your understanding of the material. Why? Since taking notes by hand is slower than typing, it forces the brain to engage more with what you’re writing, and this fosters retention and comprehension.
16. Test yourself
Another way to speed up your learning of Italian is to test yourself frequently. Research shows that testing can help you assess what you’ve learned, retain new information and apply it to new contexts.
Bear in mind that testing doesn’t always mean taking an official exam or quiz. It can also come in the form of asking yourself questions about the material you just studied and formulating your own answers to assess how well you understood it.
17. Build on existing knowledge
If you already have some knowledge of the Italian language, you can use this as a foundation to build on and connect to the new information you encounter. This is known as “associative learning,” and researchers have found that it can help with memory storage and retrieval.
For example, if you know you’re going to be learning about introductions, you could spend some time writing down everything you already know about this topic, even if it’s just a simple phrase like “Ciao, mi chiamo...” Connecting the new information you learn to this existing knowledge will make it easier for your brain to store and retrieve it later.
18. Use your hands
Italians are famous for using hand gestures to express everything from frustration or displeasure to delight. Interestingly, research shows that certain arm gestures or hand movements can help us learn new vocabulary and even grasp new concepts better. So if you’d like to speed up the process of learning Italian, it might be worth spending some time familiarizing yourself with the many hand gestures which are a vital part of communication in Italy.
19. Study in different environments
If you always have your Italian lessons in the same place, at your desk or the kitchen table, for example, you may want to start alternating between different locations for better results.
Cognitive scientists have found that varying your study environment can help you better retain new information. This is because our subconscious mind makes associations with the information it’s receiving and the background sensations it has at the time.
By ensuring that the brain makes multiple associations with the same information, it will be easier to remember it regardless of the environment you later find yourself in.
20. Mix up different topics
While most of us have become accustomed to studying one topic or skill in each learning session, research shows that it can actually be more effective to vary the types of materials we focus on in each session. This is known as ‘interleaved practice.’
For example, rather than focusing solely on vocabulary or verb conjugation, you’d mix up your materials by first learning some new words and then making your own sentences with them and practicing your pronunciation.
21. Create your own flashcards
Using flashcards for language learning is not only a great way to memorize new words but can also enhance your learning by making it more engaging. Creating your own set of flashcards to learn Italian quickly will also enable you to focus on the topics you’re most interested in, whether it’s movies and entertainment or sports and fitness.
If making your own flashcards seems like it would require too much effort, you can use a flashcard app to speed up the process. This approach also means you can take your flashcards with you and practice on the go.
22. Get some physical activity
Regular physical activity is good for more than just your muscles and cardiovascular system; research shows that regular exercise may improve cognitive function.
High-intensity exercise, in particular, such as sprints or HIIT workouts, has been shown to boost memory, which is good news if you’re trying to expand your Italian vocabulary.
23. Embrace your mistakes
Making mistakes is a big part of learning something new, and research shows that learning is actually optimized when we fail some of the time. According to researchers from the University of Arizona, the ‘sweet spot’ for learning is when a failure occurs roughly 15% of the time. Why?
When something is too difficult, we’re likely to give up entirely, whereas if it’s too easy, we simply won’t learn anything new. For this reason, it’s best to gradually increase the difficulty level of your Italian lessons so that you still find them challenging but not so difficult that you end up making wild guesses rather than leaning on your existing knowledge.
24. Commit to daily practice
Finally, the most important thing you can do to learn Italian fast is to commit to practicing it daily, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes before you go to bed or when you wake up.
One way to make sure your Italian lessons happen every single day is to make language learning a part of your daily routine. Start by evaluating your weekend and weekday routines and looking for gaps where you might fit short language learning sessions, such as during your daily commute or lunch break. Eventually, practicing your Italian will feel as natural as any other daily habit, such as brushing your teeth or answering your emails.
If you’re wondering what the best methods are on how to learn Italian fast, check out The Berlitz Method. Our method is based on immersive language learning, which is proven to be the fastest and most effective way to learn a new language. Fill in the form below to discover more information.