The Fourth Secret of Learning Italian
Secret no. 4 follows on from Secret no. 3 It’s simply expressed: If you want to develop a good understanding of a foreign language, YOU NEED TO READ A LOT. Here are some reasons why:
-Reading is free, or cheap
-There is a limitless supply of texts available
-Texts in Italian are full of vocabulary and grammar in a context which will help you to learn both
-You can get them free or cheap on the internet
– Reading is motivating, interesting, and can enhance your life
-Reading is a “natural” way to learn
-Reading can “simulate” the experience of “being there”. In fact, if you read enough, you may as well be there!
Honestly, if you do nothing else, you should read! It must be the cheapest, most practical, and most effective way to “grow the Italian in your head”.
Personally, I learnt Italian almost exclusively by reading (which explains my horrible accent!). I was working as an English teacher in Italy and therefore duty-bound to interact with my clients in English. But I knew from experience how isolating this can be in the long term, and was determined to learn to read Italian so I would not be “trapped” in the world of ex-patriate English speakers. I vowed never to buy an English book or newspaper while l lived in Italy, and (with some exceptions) I have more or less stuck to my decision. The result? Without studying the langauge formally, I reached advanced level and became confident with texts of every type!
“But that’s because you live there!”, you say. Ah, but my students of English live in Italy too, and I give them the same advice I’m giving you. Get some of the language you want to learn into your daily life, and soon you’ll find you are improving naturally. You really DON’T need to live there.
Here’s a list of things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your Italian:
1. Lock your grammar book in a drawer for a week. Find other ways to study.
2. Find websites in Italian which interest you (shopping, travel, news, etc.) and spend 10-15 minutes a day on them.
3. Set your “homepage” to your favourite Italian-language website, that way reading it will become a habit!
4. Buy a simplified book with audio CDs. Search for “graded readers” at www.italianbookshop.co.uk
We recommend: listen and read first (quickly), re-read at your leisure, listen again in your car or on the bus (as many times as you wish). Then share the book with your friends who are learning Italian!
Read more: Secret no. 5