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DTMark

Learning Italian

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Started this about a year ago. Have tried various approaches but watching lots of Italian TV, some of which is superb, and using the Michel Thomas language course seem the most effective approaches.

With that, rather than the usual approach of learning stock phrases like "Can you tell me how to get to the train station?" the method works by building and expanding your vocabulary in quite a natural way and you do get a constant sense of progression.

I did French at school, and Italian has a base of words common to both French and English, so that was helpful, and the stuff we've been watching - apart from being really good TV - is very rewarding when you reach the point where you glance at the subtitles to confirm what you thought rather than having to always read them.

The project came about because I like Italy, the music, fashion, cars, food, and also built a website for an Italian DJ who I now have as a sort of "pen pal" and may go to visit in the next year or so, we've had some invites to events, but have always been busy so far.

It's like unlocking some kind of secret code, what was just gibberish becomes intelligible, but even without that, it has led us to explore TV and films that we wouldn't even have bothered with before, indeed to actively seek out Italian things to watch.

My Italian is still in its infancy, I'll need to put a lot more hours into it, over quite a time span, to become even vaguely fluent beyond the basic stock phrases like getting to the station, it has, to be honest, little to no practical value so really does fall into the "hobby" category but I've found it surprisingly rewarding and addictive.

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I'm in a similar journey with French. I mostly just listen to audio. I walk to work and back, and go for a wander most lunch times, so get about 2 hours a day of listening time.  I've been through the Michel Thomas Basic, Language Builder, and Advanced courses multiple times. Got about half way through Duolingo (I'll finish it eventually, but i cant get the time to do it, and keep letting it slide, and then have to catch up), started Rosetta Stone but got out of the habit of doing it (i get it free through work, but to access it need to log into various work accounts which I find tedious and unattractive when I'm not in work!)

This is a fun blog post on learning all 8 romance languages 

http://lingwall.org/wp/?p=10

I downloaded the FSI course he talks about for French and have listened through the "FAST" course, which was quite good approached that way as a supplement to Michel Thomas (you're supposed to work through it with a book). 

Edited by SpectrumFX

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Indulge me.. what have you found most challenging?

Because I can't use Italian on a daily basis, I don't get practice with the pronunciation. Will be fun when we go over there.

One tiny tip I picked up with Italian came quite late. Pronounce everything.

OK it's not strictly accurate, but - a, e, i, o, u = ah, eh, ee, oh, ooh

Grazie = g-razee-eh with the leading edge of the "r" pronounced hard in a way that we do not do in English. Almost like a new word or restart.

It's always the rolling guttural "r" that I struggle with in French.

I do correspond with that Italian DJ and she doesn't speak much English. So given my interest we've agreed to always speak Italian.

I have stacks of email in my "Sent Items" all in Italian which is fun to review. I've got to the point where I can tap out the email in Italian now fairly intuitively and then use Google Translate to sanity-check it. And sometimes giggle at how wrong it is because it is crap at context.

Once you get the old-world-English running order of the sentences you find you can intuitively flick what you want to say around relatively easily. Indeed it makes English seem quite odd at times.

For example: why do we say "I don't think it will work" instead of "I think it won't work"? Things like that. Teaches you as much about your own language as the one you're learning.

English is so flexible it leads to gibberish. We should probably say e.g. "I shall do it tomorrow".

What we actually say: "I am doing it tomorrow".

am = present, (do)ing implies present, then "tomorrow".

Have you watched "Spiral" (title = "Engrenages" in French which I think actually means something like "gears") - worth seeing. Decent crime drama.

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My main challenge (other then simply being fucking useless with languages) is simply building up the confidence to use it, knowing that I will fail, but that I need to do it anyway. My fear is not that they will not understand me (that's the easy but), it's me not understanding what comes back. A native speaker can literally come at you with anything. The reality is that most people will make allowances and try to help you out, but I'm not an outgoing person, and am not an easy and natural communicator.

A few years back I was in Paris buying tickets for the Metro. I went up to the window and asked the guy (in English) if he spoke English. "Non" he says "Parlez français".  So i did the whole thing in French. We finish up and he said to me in perfect English "That wasn't so hard now, was it?" xD

I'll look out for that TV series. I'm always looking for things I can watch in French. 

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Here you go:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B0015083Q2/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used

Got to be worth a couple of quid as a punt? It's on Amazon Prime as well from the looks of it.

Agree on your points. Italians seem to speak about 50% faster than most people can listen. FFS, slow down. Lentamente, per favore. Non ho capito.

It will help if I can get where one word ends and the next starts especially with all the vowel sounds.

Nice tale about the Metro. It sounds like you are far from "fucking useless at languages" ;)

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1 hour ago, DTMark said:

Here you go:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B0015083Q2/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used

Got to be worth a couple of quid as a punt? It's on Amazon Prime as well from the looks of it.

Agree on your points. Italians seem to speak about 50% faster than most people can listen. FFS, slow down. Lentamente, per favore. Non ho capito.

It will help if I can get where one word ends and the next starts especially with all the vowel sounds.

Nice tale about the Metro. It sounds like you are far from "fucking useless at languages" ;)

Cheers. I've ordered the DVD, you can't not really at that prices xD

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On ‎21‎/‎04‎/‎2017 at 03:02, SpectrumFX said:

Cheers. I've ordered the DVD, you can't not really at that prices xD

Enjoy.. you may come away with the impression that the French justice system is just a little corrupt and out of control ;)

If you do enjoy, PM me your address (if you dare) and I'll pop S2 and S3 in the post to you.

 

On ‎21‎/‎04‎/‎2017 at 08:35, sleepwello'nights said:

Have a look at Futurelearn.com. I'm working through an Italian course on that. Another good resource is Kings College London Language Resources.

 

I shall indeed. I also have a Rocket Italian subscription I'm working through. Presenters are likeable, but structure is the rigid "situational" approach and I think I could probably work out how to order the-pizza-with-the-mozzarella in a more abstract way. I have learned from it, though - multiple sources aid understanding.

I often get frustrated by the regional dialects and accents on Italian TV and music can be tricky but now and again there's one that's nice and clear that you can get off-the-bat and it's quite rewarding. Love this guy:

The one it plays into after, Musica di Merda, was my #2 track of last year just behind another Italian one and the lyrics are much harder to get but it's so wonderful.

Edit: it doesn't play on when embedded. This is the one. If you can get most of the lyrics to this straight away you're ahead of me.

"My television is in the hands of idiots" - LOL

If you know what "kittesenkula" is (near the end, guy holds it up on a card) do tell.

Edited by DTMark

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On ‎06‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 04:48, MrPin said:

I don't think it's that.

There is no translation for it that I can find.

However I have a feeling it's something like "draw the line here". But it's only a guess.

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On ‎21‎/‎04‎/‎2017 at 08:35, sleepwello'nights said:

Have a look at Futurelearn.com. I'm working through an Italian course on that. Another good resource is Kings College London Language Resources.

 

Come è il tuo Italiano?

I think I need to find an online tutor to practice with. The nearest tutors to here for face-to-face lessons are about 20 miles away.

I can pick up the accent from TV and music (which is how I started with this), and I thnk I am able to take an English phrase and convert it into Italian (given still limited vocabulary), but I have absolutely no feedback to indicate whether I have it right or not. The multiple variants of "the" and "of the", and tense, are the main struggles.

The closest I can get is having my partner tap sentences into Google Translate, tell me what they are, and then say how close I am to what that says it ought to be. But then Google Translate isn't very good with Italian.

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Have had first online lesson with an Italian tutor (via verbalplanet.com, over Skype). A nice guy from Verona who is really enthusiastic and professional and whose English and Italian accents sound perfect.

I've booked two more lessons for later in the week.. repetition is the key, hoping I'll learn more rapidly.

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Have had three lessons now. Andrea, my tutor, is really good; if you ask "How do I say.." he'll tap it in on the keyboard and send it so you have a record to refer back to.

Oh, and you will. He certainly "pushes you", but in the right way, and can adapt well to what you need at that time. I'm trying to keep to 3 to 4 lessons per week, 45 minutes each.

Until these lessons I had never had the experience of actually speaking the language out loud and interacting with an actual Italian. It is a bit odd being back in a formal learning environment again, but it doesn't seem that way. Does make you think "on your feet" as it were. Highly recommended.

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If you struggle with the speed of a language, a good tip is to listen to a podcast of your choice and slow it down to x0.8.  I assume most podcast apps have this facility? Podcast republic does.

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On ‎30‎/‎09‎/‎2017 at 14:12, BigV said:

If you struggle with the speed of a language, a good tip is to listen to a podcast of your choice and slow it down to x0.8.  I assume most podcast apps have this facility? Podcast republic does.

Good idea. Audible does have some Italian language stuff, like some of the Montalbano stories. I might well give that a try.

What's quite creepy is that seemingly impenetrable things begin to make sense. Like opera. "Nessun Dorma".

Because it's delivered so slowly, and uses mostly simple (in a few cases "extrapolatable" - I might have invented that word) vocabulary, it's like some sort of secret code has been unlocked. Suddenly the thing comes to life. I was told that I'd need to be 50 before I'd have any interest in opera.

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You'll probably find you can more or less read Spanish when you've got so far with Italian. Thats what I've found in reverse. Listening is different though! 

Portuguese too maybe. It's very strange, written Portuguese is quite like Spanish, but really sounds absolutely nothing like it. 

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Spanish and Italian seem very similar. I think Spanish might be the easier one of the two, I say this only because the pronunciation is that little bit flatter and easier to adapt to whereas trying to pronounce Italian has your tongue flicking around all over the place until you learn where it needs to be at the end of one word to have a chance of getting the start of the next word right.
 
It really matters whether you deliver an "e" or an "i" sound, for example and those sounds are very different from the English equivalents. It won't work if you try to deliver Italian as if it were English just with different words. I guess the same is true of Spanish but it sounds more "tersely" delivered and easier to get the mouth to replicate. But maybe that's why it prevailed over Italian as a world language. It's not so "fussy"? But it's more useful to know. The world's second most widely spoken language.
 
I can understand a fair bit of Spanish now where I could not before. I couldn't write it. Though I do notice that there's a particular quirk of both that that Spanish seem to have resolved a bit better - how to signify that a sentence is a question.
 
In English we usually start the sentence with "Do.." or "Will..". We change the running order of the words and/or the syntax. "You want it?" becomes "Do you want it?" - no mistaking that.
 
In Italian, the question is the same as the statement, but spoken with an upward inflection. So when you read it, you only know it's a question because there's a question mark at the end. But you have to get there. The Spanish seem to resolve this by putting one at the start of the written sentence too. Is that right, I wonder..
 
From what I've learned, the Italian language is relatively new. By which I mean a common sense of a formalised official language.
 
Indeed I was discussing this with my tutor yesterday - we have got to the stage where I can just about manage to do the entire 45 minutes in Italian rarely having to pause and ask "How do you say..?" , "What is the word for..?" or "What does that mean?"
 
But then that's not because I've achieved great mastery. It's because the tutor knows what level I am at and restricts his use of vocabulary to suit. My "official" language level is B2 (on some kind of universally agreed scale apparently). A bit above beginner.
 
I'm back to two lessons a week. In tomorrow's lesson we're going to cover tense, something I've struggled with.

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I did learn a bit of Italian, when I worked for Pirelli. The lessons were free and after work on a Wednesday. I was surprised only about 8 people took advantage of this free education.

Edited by MrPin

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When you learn a new language you learn plenty about your own language too.

This song is very much me - pop euphoria. Though I love the Darwin-esque imagery in the video and the 80s throwback sounds, so familiar these days.

Now I know that pappagalli = parrots. WTF is "pachidermi"?

I put into Google Translate. In English, "pachiderms".

WTF are "pachiderms"?

Apparently: large mammals with thick skin like elephants.

OK, I've learned something new today.

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