How to Learn Italian Fast: 10 Tips for Rapid Language Learning
If you’re looking for the fastest way to learn Italian, you’re in the right place.
We’ll go over tips for boosting your Italian skills in a hurry, plus some common learning methods and how long you’ll need with each to have a comfortable grasp on your new language.
This post will help you prepare to master key language concepts and hold real Italian conversations—which means even more opportunities for speedy advancement of skills.
Let’s not waste any time! Here are 10 tips for learning Italian quickly.
- 1. Start Now and Commit to Daily Italian Practice
- 2. Set Concrete Learning Goals
- 3. Create an Italian Study Plan
- 4. Learn Italian Pronunciation, Especially the Vowels
- 5. Learn Basic Italian Grammar Right Away
- 6. Use Diverse and Interesting Learning Tools
- 7. Study the Most Common Italian Words
- 8. Make Use of Cognates and Synonyms
- 9. Memorize Some Italian Idioms
- 10. Interact with Native Italian Speakers Often
- Methods and Timeframes: How Fast Can You Learn Italian?
1. Start Now and Commit to Daily Italian Practice
There’s no better time than the present to start learning a new language.
If you dream of sharing a gondola with a sexy Venetian while whispering sweet Italian nothings into their ear, take this as a sign—today’s the day to begin your Italian language journey!
I know that you probably have a busy schedule and a lot of commitments, but if you want to see real results, you’re going to have to study regularly.
Don’t wait for Monday to come around for your fresh start, either. Start now! Even a few minutes per day will get you closer to fluency than none at all.
Need an idea for your daily study? Memorize one Italian verb and its endings every day.
Italian is very verb-centric, which means you can’t do much without knowing a lot of verbs. Where English uses a lot of compound and phrasal verbs (get up, get in, get dressed), Italian typically has a different verb for everything (alzarsi, entrare, vestirsi).
Not only that, but Italian verbs change significantly for every person. In English, we’d say “I go, you go, he goes, we go, they go,” but in Italian it’s “io vado, tu vai, lui va, noi andiamo, voi andate, loro vanno.”
I recommend that you get a calendar and write one verb in every day of the month. Each morning, write down the verb and repeat it in its present forms. Try to memorize the verb by the end of the day. At the end of the week, quiz yourself on your new words.
2. Set Concrete Learning Goals
Goals, goals, goals… I bet you’ve heard this word million times. But do you ever take it seriously? Have you actually considered setting goals for your Italian learning? If you haven’t done that, now’s the time.
Setting concrete goals is one the most important ways to stay motivated and feel successful in language learning.
Instead of the big, vague, overwhelming goal of Italian fluency, pick smaller, specific achievements you can progress through. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How much time can you devote daily to Italian learning? Where do you want to be in a week? A month? A year?
- What type of communication is important to you? Do you just want to watch Italian TV shows without subtitles, or do you need to deliver professional presentations?
- Which parts of the language give you the most trouble? Do you struggle with verb conjugations or vowel pronunciations, for instance?
Plan interesting, fun, accessible goals based off your answers. Sit down, open a notebook and write down those goals so you can remind yourself why you’re learning when studying feels difficult!
3. Create an Italian Study Plan
Luckily, there’s no shortage of Italian materials and courses out there. As one of the most studied languages in the world, Italian is in high demand—which makes it that much easier to plan out your studies.
If you want to see results soon and be consistent, create a realistic study plan for yourself. You can:
- Determine a specific time commitment. Decide how many hours per week you want to dedicate to studying Italian. For faster results, try to aim for at least an hour each day, if not more.
- Set up a daily study routine. Pick a time of day that works best for you. It can be before you go to work, during your lunch break, after work—or multiple times a day!
- Stick to your schedule. Try not to skip any learning sessions. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Consistency is the key to learning any language, Italian included.
4. Learn Italian Pronunciation, Especially the Vowels
Now you’re ready to start actually learning the Italian language. And a great place to start any new language is the alphabet.
Make sure you spend enough time at the beginning of your learning journey to master the Italian alphabet and perfect your Italian pronunciation.
As for a pronunciation tip that’ll put you ahead of the curve: Focus on the vowels.
Vowels in English are known for being confusing because they can be pronounced in a variety of ways. Italian vowels, on the other hand, are pretty straightforward. Each letter has only one sound.
Take the verb pretendere (to expect/command). This verb contains the same vowel four times. Native English speakers will likely want to pronounce the word something like pree-ten-dur.
But once you know the Italian “e” is always pronounced eh, you’ll be able to pronounce pretendere correctly.
Memorizing the Italian alphabet and paying special attention to the vowels will improve your pronunciation dramatically.
5. Learn Basic Italian Grammar Right Away
While Italian grammar can be quite complex, the trick is to start by learning the simple stuff. Give yourself a strong foundation for your Italian studies while boosting your confidence and motivation.
Start by learning to build simple sentences. Then, focus on the simple tenses, prepositions and pronouns to make quick progress:
- To learn Italian verbs, start with the indicativo (indicative) mood and the present tense, the past simple and the future simple.
- When learning Italian prepositions, stick with le preposizioni semplici (simple prepositions) at the beginning.
- For Italian pronouns, begin with the three most common: subject pronouns, pronomi diretti e indiretti (direct and indirect pronouns).
I also recommend a quick crash course on English grammar (yes, English!).
Italian grammar and English grammar are closely related, as both were influenced by Latin. Having a good understanding of basic English grammar means you’ll be able to draw a lot of parallels between the two.
You can brush up your English grammar here. And once you think you’ve got the basics of Italian grammar down, you can practice with grammar exercises through these resources.
6. Use Diverse and Interesting Learning Tools
The key to learning Italian fast is to be comprehensive, which means finding diverse learning methods.
Your Italian learning tools will depend upon your personal interests, learning style and goals. No matter your preferences, however, you’ll probably benefit from a mix of the following types of study materials:
- Straightforward, textbook-style learning tools. That might mean anything from actual textbooks to online Italian grammar tutorials. Find something practical that explains essential Italian language concepts to you.
- Authentic, entertaining resources. You might listen to Italian learning podcasts, download fun language apps or read Italian magazines. You could subscribe to Italian blogs or watch Italian movies. Think about what naturally holds your attention, and then do it in Italian.
In fact, multimedia materials like movies or TV shows are especially helpful for learning Italian quickly. These types of immersive resources will show you how native speakers really use the language, so you can start sounding like a native yourself.
Of course, as a beginner, a full-length movie or TV series might seem intimidating. If that’s the case, you can try learning more Italian with online immersion platforms, such as FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic Italian videos that native Italian speakers actually watch (like movie clips, music videos and vlogs) and equips them with learning tools. This means you can see the language in use naturally with the support you need to understand what’s happening and expand your vocabulary.
Every video on FluentU has interactive subtitles that let you check the meaning of any word with a click. You can add a word to your flashcard list and come back to it when you want to study. FluentU uses personalized quizzes to reinforce vocabulary from the videos and flashcards.
The FluentU program can be used in your browser and as an iOS or Android app to add some entertainment to your Italian learning tools.
7. Study the Most Common Italian Words
Vocabulary—it’s extremely important, but sometimes it’s just so difficult to remember all those new words, isn’t it?
If you want to expand your vocabulary quickly, learn the most frequently used Italian words. This will make the most efficient use of your time and quickly prepare you to start having Italian conversations.
In fact, 90 percent of the vocabulary used by native Italian speakers in everyday conversation is composed of about 2,000 words. You can find those words in the first section of this Memrise resource, which was based on this article.
Once you’ve learned the words, make sure to practice using them in context. Try to come up with different phrases for each word—that way you’ll not only remember them, but you’ll also learn some extra vocabulary.
Keep a vocabulary notebook in your bag and add new words or phrases whenever you have a little extra time.
8. Make Use of Cognates and Synonyms
Cognates are words that have the same meaning and the same (or very similar) spelling in two different languages.
Italian and English have a lot of cognates, so that’s a great way to get started or boost your Italian vocabulary skills.
For example, most words that end with “-tion” in English are cognates in Italian. The spelling is extremely similar—just change the English ending to -zione (singular) or -zioni (plural) and you’re all set.
Take a look:
- Destinazione (Destination)
- Destinazioni (Destinations)
- Intenzione (Intention)
- Intenzioni (Intentions)
Beyond the multitude of cognates, Italian synonyms are another great way to expand your vocabulary.
The Italian language has more than 260,000 words, including many synonyms that can be harnessed for rapid learning. Instead of learning only one way to express yourself in Italian, you can learn three or four at once. Not bad, right?
Check out this list of common Italian synonyms, and then look up new vocabulary words in an Italian dictionary for a list of other usable words with the same meaning.
Add your synonyms and cognates to your Italian vocabulary notebook and try to use them in context throughout each day.
9. Memorize Some Italian Idioms
Idioms aren’t commonly taught until you reach more advanced language levels, despite the fact that they’re one of the most fun parts of learning a new language!
The truth is that you can start learning Italian idioms right away. In fact, doing so will help your Italian improve faster.
That’s because memorizing fun phrases like in bocca al lupo (break a leg/good luck) or una mela al giorno toglie il medico di torno (an apple a day keeps the doctor away) helps you internalize Italian grammar structures.
If you learn some Italian idioms, you’ll realize as you continue your studies that you’ve already been using some of the grammar you’re starting to see in your book or course.
Even better, this means you’ll understand the real-world application of Italian idioms and how to use them like a native speaker.
10. Interact with Native Italian Speakers Often
If you really want to learn Italian fast, then you have to expose yourself to the language as much as possible. The fastest way to do this is to move to Italy and totally immerse yourself in the language and culture.
Of course, that’s not possible for most language students—and you certainly don’t have to do it to learn Italian quickly!
The key is to interact with native Italian speakers as much as possible.
For starters, attend meetings or events in Italian. There are Italian communities all over the world—you can find one near you by searching the National Italian American Foundation affiliates, this list of Italian American organizations or Italian Meetup groups in your area.
Events held by organizations like those will teach you a lot about Italian language and culture, provide you with opportunities to meet native speakers and other learners and practice your language skills live and in person.
Before going to events, look up some Italian vocabulary related to the place or activity. You’ll then be able to understand the native speakers better, and you’ll feel more confident in your own Italian abilities so you can chime in to the discussions yourself.
You can also join classes that are taught in Italian. Of course, you’ll benefit from Italian language courses, but those can be pricey, and you’re not likely to meet native Italian speakers there.
Instead, look for other types of classes taught in Italian. Great examples are cooking classes, exercise classes or book clubs. Again, Meetup groups and the Italian organizations noted above are great resources for this. You may also want to check out activities hosted by a local university to find groups like these.
Methods and Timeframes: How Fast Can You Learn Italian?
To get to a solid high-intermediate to advanced level, where you feel comfortable holding normal conversations and doing everyday tasks in Italian, learning times can range from a few months to several years.
Here’s how common language learning methods compare.
How fast: three months
This is the most intense option for learning Italian, but it has the best and quickest results.
Total immersion typically means moving to Italy. For instance, you can take part in immersive language learning programs in Italy where you’ll probably need to study a minimum of four hours per day.
It’s not easy or cheap, but if you work hard, you’re guaranteed to learn Italian to a comfortable level very quickly.
Intensive Group Course
How fast: one year
Taking an intensive group course at home is the next best thing to immersion.
This type of study usually requires about six hours of lessons per week, plus homework. It forces you to make Italian part of your everyday life, which is the most essential factor for learning Italian quickly.
An intensive group course will connect you with trained educators who can help you notice and quickly overcome language obstacles.
Standard Group Course
How fast: four years
Taking a non-intensive group course is one of the more affordable and least time-consuming ways to study Italian seriously. This type of language learning usually includes about three hours in the classroom each week, as well as homework.
This is an ideal option for people who need to focus on work or other responsibilities, but as you can see, it will probably take significantly more time to build your Italian to a higher level.
How fast: depends
In reality, you could learn much faster with individual lessons. It really depends on how many hours you do each week.
With one 90-minute lesson per week, you could likely learn Italian to a decently high level in about four years. A higher weekly time commitment would mean faster learning.
This method is more expensive, but it’s great for people with busy schedules who want one-on-one Italian lessons.
How fast: depends
There are a large number of online Italian courses and they come in all shapes and sizes.
You’ll find many high-quality courses aimed at beginning Italian students, like this one from Online Italian Club. These can be relaxed and convenient, but are less conducive to speedy learning.
Online programs that offer multiple levels will be beneficial for those interested in learning Italian quickly, like the Online Italian Club above, or the Italian courses offered through Wellesley College.
How fast: depends
Many people succeed at learning Italian through self-study methods, but how long that takes depends completely on you.
This is usually the cheapest way to learn, but it can also be extremely challenging without support and motivation from a teacher or classmates.
If you choose this method, remember to stay positive and use lots of high-quality resources!
Ready to take your Italian to the next level? Start putting these tips into practice and be consistent.
You’ll become a master of Italian in no time!