So you want to learn how to speak Italian like a local. Maybe you’ve just bought a “Casa in Italia” and are planning to move to Italy or perhaps you’re already there but struggling a little. Language-learning books and courses are very useful to have some base in Italian. But are you still not always understood by the Macellaio or your vicino?

Tranquillo!, here are some useful ways to get the language while in Italy from Angela our Italian Teacher. And remember, making mistakes is how you learn so don’t feel ashamed of trying anyway!

1. Dive into the language soup

Listen to the Italian radio, watch the television, listen to adverts on public transport, and read everything in sight.

2. Start lowbrow

Supermarket leaflets, station adverts, books for children and comic strip books are great places to start, as they also have visual prompts. Also magazines often contain interviews which are essentially reported speech, so you are picking up speech patterns.

Watch films in English but with Italian subtitles
Watch films in English but with Italian subtitles

3. Watch shopping channels, news and weather forecasts

Shopping shows use repetition to hammer the point home, so are great for picking up language. Plus, as they are demonstrating the product, you have visual prompts. The news is about specific subjects that you may already be aware of the details of, and the weather forecast again uses a lot of repetitive language and has strong visual aids.

4. Listen to Italian music

Radio Italia FM radio is great as it tends to play Italian songs.

5. Watch films in English, with subtitles in Italian

This is the opposite of what most people do, but in fact the brain takes in information better when it is in a passive state. Listening in your native tongue takes little effort and your brain is able to read the subtitles and make the links between what it sees and hears.

Try following a recipe in Italian
Try following a recipe in Italian

6. Read aloud

This engages another part of the brain and facilitates learning.

7. Try to follow instructions

I began with very simple recipes then subscribed to a monthly cookery magazine. You can do the same with photography, philosophy, or whatever you like.