Many thanks to our regular writer (and online Italian teacher), Francesca Colombo, who has saved me a job today by emailing me her pronunciation tips:
I had a look at the last articles you wrote about the pronunciation (haven’t read them thoroughly, though).
These are a few tips for the English speakers that I generally use with my students (mainly British people) in case you want to share them:
-Stress the double consonants. I mean really STRESS that sound. You can count up to 3 while pronouncing the double, if you wish, or pretend there are 6/7 of them. Think of “Mattone” as “Matttttone” and read “passato” like this: “passssato”
-Break the words in a robotic way and each and every vowel should last the same amount of time, except for the vowel with the accent. Stress that one a little bit more. Just a little bit, though! So, our “mattone” becomes “mattoone”, and “passato” becomes “passaato”.
-Words with several vowels in a row can easily be mispronounced so take your time to pronounce each and every vowel that is actually there. “Miei”, for instance. If you can’t cope with all those vowels… Just chop the word like a carrot: “mi–e–i”. “Suoi” goes like “su–o–i”, “cuoio” wuold be “cu–o–io”.
-Another thing that English speakers tend to do is to let the final vowel last A LOT and almost link it to the next word. But we don’t do that. Try to chop the word like a carrot (again) and interrupt immediately the last vowel. When English people say “bella” to my Italian ears sounds like “bellaaaaaw”. Try to let the last vowel out for as short as possible. Close your lips straight after saying it, if this helps to shorten the sound.
-For advanced students only: listen to Italians trying (struggling, probably) to speak English. Spot the difficulties they have when it comes to pronuncing long vowels and any other sound that doesn’t belong to our “toolbox” or range of sounds. Try to repeat the words they mispronounce and you’ll get a better idea of which sounds we’re used to.
Anyways, this is a bit like playing music: in order to learn how to play a fast sequence, you have to slow down and practise that stuff a lot (alone or with your teacher) which typically makes your neighbours’ day. But obviously you can also learn a lot by going to your best mate’s garage, improvising and listening to other musicians, by trying to imitate them…
So, I guess the key is to not get obsessed with having the “ultimate pronunciation” or knowing your scales perfectly but try to take advantage of some moments instead (when you read some written passage, mainly) to keep en eye on the pronunciation. And don’t think in English, while doing that: it would have a negative influence on the way you pronounce!
Doesn’t she write well in English? Brava Fra! And thanks for lightening my load.
Don’t forget this week’s new, and very seasonal, ‘easy Italian reader’ ebook, ‘Giallo a Capodanno‘ (‘Mystery at New Year’). The level is upper-intermediate/advanced, and for the first seven days it costs just £5.99!
It’s New Year 1970 and Martina’s all dressed up for the party, determined to enjoy it! But her roommate, Alida would rather read detective thrillers than pretend to have fun with just six fellow students. Though who knows? Perhaps something interesting will happen?
Check out the free sample chapter (.pdf) to get an idea of the level, length and format of this ebook, and so decide whether it will be manageable at your current level in Italian. This one isn’t suitable for beginners or for anyone with shaky reading skills – verify that for yourself by clicking the above link and reading/listening to the first eighth of the story.
If it’s too hard, or too easy, select something more appropriate from our Catalog page instead. There you’ll find all of our ebook easy Italian readers, from the lowest level to the highest.
Don’t want to spend any money this close to Christmas? No worries! Go browse the club website for something free to study (there’s lots of choice), and/or read and listen to our latest bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news.