Learning the language


So, language….. Do we speak Italian? Not yet. Well, at least not well. I’ve been working on it for about a year and Heidi has begun recently. One cannot move to Italy without at least a minimum understanding of the language. There is no specific requirement that you have this competency to get your Permesso di Siggiorno, but, you will have to be able to pass a competency test at the A2 level within a specific amount of time. (Its Italy, the amount of time can vary depending on whose office you end up in, but a good assumption is that you should have an A2 certificate by the time you wish to renew you Permesso after the first year. Also, as you will be required to fill out a number of forms available only in Italian, and deal with numerous clerks and bureaucrats, none of which will be particularly eager to show off their mastery of English, it’s best you get cracking. Besides, why would you move to Italy if you did not want to go native? (A2 level is loosely described at being able to function in a simple day to day environment. On a course level it is often called Lower Intermediate.

There are lessons of course, and if you can afford both the time and cost, one would hugely benefit from going to Italy to take one of the 4-6 week intensive courses. Even from my own experience I found that during a ten day stay in Italy, I made more progress in solidifying what I had studied than I would in months on my own.

I use a variety of resources. For my main study I use a program called Rocket Language. Less expensive than Rosetta, and, in my opinion, it will take you further. In addition I use Yabla.com. A membership is $100/yr. They have several thousand short videos in a couple dozen categories. They show subtitles in both Italian and the English translation. You can turn them on and off at your need. You can even slow the audio. In addition I have at least one book devoted to learning grammar. And of course, it should go without saying, watch Italian movies. Netflix and Amazon have a number.

Above all, stay with it, stay with it, stay with it. Repetition is the key. And if at all possible, find someone who speaks Italian that you can practice with. You really don’t want your first and only acid test to be when you are dropped into the deep end of the pool.