I’m often asked about the best way of learning the language especially by people who are moving here full time and starting a new life in the wonderful Piemonte region, and although my Mother is Italian, which of course gave me a huge advantage, I’d like to share some tips with you which I have picked up over years living here.
I think its important to understand that the people here appreciate any effort to speak their native language therefore creating a positive environment in which to learn.
Here in The Langhe region you can sign up for free Italian lessons which take place in Alba, Cortemilia, Bossolasco,Dogliani and most large towns. You take a small test for want of a better word, which allows the school to evaluate your level and place you in the appropriate group. The courses take place between October and June and consist of two three hour lessons twice a week. You can get all the relevant information from the local tourist office.
I really enjoyed the course because they include people of all nationalities and therefore the only way you can communicate is by speaking Italian. It’s also a great way to meet people.
There are also loads of Italian home study courses which I duly purchased and I must say helped me a great deal. I’ve used Michel Thomas and Linguaphone which I must say are both excellent. My favorite however is Rosetta Stone which is an interactive course for your PC which is based around image association instead of direct translation. There are three levels and each lesson includes a section on vocabulary, reading,writing,grammar etc all of which are presented in a fun and enjoyable way. Its not cheap but I think worth every penny.
Learning a language is like learning to play a musical instrument… You have to practice. Get out and meet the locals and try to use what you have learnt. Visit local bars, shops, join the local gym, in other words immerse yourself in the local environment and your ears will start to tune into the language.
Finally give yourself realistic goals, it takes a while to master any new language but the time and effort are well worth it. The most enjoyable part about living in Italy is mixing with the locals and living the life style, learning the language allows you to do this.