Thursday, April 12, 2007


Learning Italian

It looks I'll be traveling to Rome in a few weeks, so I'd like to quickly learn a little Italian. Does anyone have any suggestions for good training programs/materials?

I've found some free Italian lessons on the BBC web site. I've learned my first ten words!

[UPDATE: The trip has been cancelled. I'm still trying to pick up Italian, but my heart isn't really in it anymore.]

You want what I call 'survival italian'. You want to exchange greetings, order off a menu, order drinks in a bar, understand numbers (so you can make a vague guess at how many Euros to fork over), and ask someone if they speak English.

Many books will cover these areas well. I recommend getting some tapes, because the 'phonetic spelling' in most books sucks and listening to tapes is a good way to memorize phrases.

Unless you're planning to move there (like some people I know) you probably don't need much more. Hell, even if you're planning on moving there, you don't need much more, just as long as you stay in big cities or touristed areas (English is pretty much the world's defacto second language)

But that being said, saying "Bon Jur-no" instead of "Howdy" is a fairly painless way to make a cab driver/bar tender/waitress/hotel staff think you're not just another american businessman.
Italian the Easy Way by Marcel Danesi is a good textbook I used in a continuing ed Italian class.
To learn the numbers in Italian:

1 to 10


11 to 20
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