improve-italian

Improve Italian Fast: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Language Learners

Got an Italian habit you just can’t kick?

That’s a good thing!

If you’re already hooked on this language (and it’s hard not to be!) you’ve taken your first steps on the path to fluency. But maybe your skills in the language don’t quite match your passion for it yet.

So what do you do?

It’s time to kick your Italian habit into high gear.

In this post, we’ll discuss seven daily language habits that will improve your Italian retention and give your communication skills a major boost.

Before you know it, learning Italian will be a natural part of your day, like your morning pot of coffee or regular email checks.

Let’s take a look at why this is so important.
 


 
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Why Improving Your Italian Should Be a Daily Habit

It Keeps Language Concepts Fresh

Ever had the feeling that every time you begin a study session, it feels like the first time? It’s as if you can’t remember what you learned previously, so you repeat the same basic lessons, vocabulary and grammar rules over and over.

If you’re taking long breaks between Italian study sessions, it’s harder to make information stick. One of the biggest reasons for adopting an Italian habit is that it requires you to practice the language and review concepts every single day, so you won’t forget so easily. It’s a daily opportunity to hammer lessons into your long-term memory, allowing you to continuously move forward in your learning.

Learning Italian is a process of building on the concepts you’ve mastered as you learn new ones. It’s linking what you already know with the things you’ll learn. So you’ve got to practice on a daily basis and get some momentum going.

It Logs the Hours

If you’re good at anything, it’s at least partly because you’ve spent a great deal of time practicing it. Basketball, martial arts, Candy Crush, you name it. It’s the same with acquiring a language. The more you do it, the better you become.

A daily Italian habit will naturally get you more hours learning the language. It may be as simple as learning a new word every morning or watching an Italian flick after work, but the more you engage with the language, the better you’ll be at absorbing pronunciations, recognizing grammatical relationships and sussing out the nuances of the language.

Babies practice their first language the same way. There isn’t a day when they’re not working on linguistic skills, whether it’s babbling, mimicking or attentively looking at lips and listening to adults talk. Then when they’re ready, they blow everybody’s minds when they deliver their first words, first phrases and first grammatically sound sentences.

Follow the example of babies. Log in those hours by making language practice a daily habit.

It’s Highly Immersive

One of the best ways to learn Italian is to visit Italy and immerse yourself in the language. That way, you get exposure to as much Italian content and conversation practice as possible. Unfortunately, that’s really not an option for everybody, considering it requires a serious investment of time and money. But you can mimic that experience with a daily Italian habit.

When you’re in Italy, what do you think you’re there for? You’re essentially putting yourself on a daily dose of the Italian language.

From hearing native speakers go about their day, to talking to one in order to buy ingredients for tomorrow’s breakfast, to watching Italian TV, you’re going to be picking up some Italian because it’s being used all around you, everywhere you go.

No matter where you are in the world, you can imitate this experience by exposing yourself to Italian content on a daily basis. Thanks to the internet, this is quite possible—we’ll cover some great immersive techniques later in this post.

Immersion. It’s one of the most important reasons to make a habit of learning Italian every day.

The 7 Daily Habits That Infinitely Improve Your Italian

1. Write Daily Notes in Italian

Our memories aren’t perfect. That’s why we need to write stuff down.

Have an Italian notebook that you carry around. This is where you’ll write the bits and pieces of Italian information that you encounter daily. Here are some scenarios you might use it for:

  • You’re watching an Italian classic film and you hear an unfamiliar word. Write it down so you can Google it later.
  • You’re watching an Italian grammar lesson on YouTube. Write down any new rules you learn that you would otherwise forget.
  • You’re reading long sections of an Italian textbook. Summarize what you’re learning in your notebook so it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other.
  • You’re unwinding after a long day. Write down a diary entry for the day for some informal Italian practice.

Do this on a daily basis and your notebook will soon contain the most personally interesting and instructive information about the language.

But it’s not just about documenting your Italian learning. The act of writing itself is highly beneficial for language learners. It bolsters the learning process. Researchers have found that there’s just something about the act of writing, the specific strokes creating words on paper, that makes the brain remember more.

With that in mind, you should be writing in your Italian journal as often as possible.

2. Listen to Italian Content While Doing Mundane Chores

Every day, we have little tasks that really don’t require that much focused attention—like waiting in line at the ATM, being stuck in heavy traffic, doing the dishes or standing on a commuter train.

Instead of just listening to music tracks and beats on your phone, you can utilize these little bits of time for learning Italian.

Listen to Italian music instead. There are language lessons to be picked up from listening to songs in the target language. They not only attune your brain to the cadences of the Italian language, they can provide melodic context to words and phrases, making them easier to digest.

Or if you’d like to improve your listening comprehension while also enjoying a good story, you can download an audiobook in Italian to your iPhone or other portable player.

And it’s not all just about listening. If you have free use of your hands and can view what’s on your phone, you can work with flashcard apps like Anki and SuperMemo to beef up your vocabulary.

Stick to these habits, and before you know it, you’ll have made drastic improvements in your Italian. And it didn’t even cost you any additional time.

3. Change the Language Settings of Your Gadgets to Italian

I’m guessing that you’re using your smartphone, laptop and other gadgets on a daily basis. One of the quickest ways to have regular language immersion (without even trying) is to change the language settings of your gadgets to Italian.

In order to do this, you’ll need to open your device’s settings, go to the language section and pick Italiano (Italian) from the list. Now, at first, you’ll feel a sudden urge to undo what you’ve just done and go back to English. Resist this urge.

The beauty of this trick is that it gradually teaches you to think in the target language. As you use your device and apps, you’ll recognize words like completato (completed), notifiche (notifications) and annulla (cancel). You’ll ultimately be able to navigate your smartphone like any native speaker.

And while you’re at it, why not change the language settings of your social media accounts into Italian? Imagine: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all in Italian. Here’s how to do it:

  • For Twitter, click the profile icon located on the upper right corner of your screen. Choose “Settings” from the menu. You’ll then be shown your account settings. Find the “Language” section and click on the drop down menu.

Choose “Italiano.” After picking the language, you need to scroll down in order to save the change. A prompt will then ask you to provide your password. Type your password and click “Save Changes” and you now have Twitter in Italian.

  • For Facebook, click on the triangle on the upper right corner of your screen. Choose “Settings.” Then click on “Language” from the panel that appears on the left side of your screen. From “What language do you want to use Facebook in,” click “Edit.”  Choose “Italiano” from the given options. Click “Save Changes” and you’re good to go.
  • For Instagram, tap the personal profile icon located on the lower right corner of your screen. Then tap the gear icon found on the upper right corner. Slide down and find the “Language” menu and pick “Italiano.” Instagram will need to restart in order to institute the change.

Now you’re getting into the groove of native speakers. Plus, you’re already spending hours on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram anyway—might as well learn Italian while you’re at it!

4. Punctuate the Beginning and End of Your Day with an Italian Review

How you start and end your day will play a big role in how quickly you acquire Italian. Consistency is key here.

You now have a notebook full of personally relevant Italian lessons and information, right? Because you adopted that first habit of writing notes down daily. We started off our list on that one because it’s that important. But it’s just an initial step.

You have to be intimately acquainted with what you’ve written. There’s no use having a notebook filled with some of the most important language learning information if you’re not going to make the most out of it.

Open each day by reviewing what you wrote in your journal the day before. Do this before your day heats up—before your schedule becomes hectic. Close your day with another session, especially focusing on the content written that day. This twice-a-day habit will keep concepts fresh, averting memory lapses.

To really get the most out of this habit, you’ll want your daily reviews to include some focused, active learning. Here are some exercises to get you started:

  • Make flashcards out of the vocabulary you’ve written in your journal. Review these flashcards every evening before you go to sleep.
  • Read your journal entries aloud. This will add speaking and pronunciation practice to your reading and writing.
  • Return to old notes. Add more annotations, create clearer summaries or sharpen insights based on what you’ve since learned.

But hey, don’t just limit the review to your own notebook.

You can also work with the torrent of Italian materials available online. For example, you can stretch those mental muscles with Quiz Tree’s Italian interactive vocabulary quizzes. You can take these tests as often as you like and can even print out the quizzes for easy reference.

A great resource for daily practice with authentic content is FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons, as you can see here:

FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday Italian by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.

Tap on any word to instantly see an image, in-context definition, example sentences and other videos in which the word is used.

Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.

Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

FluentU will even keep track of all the Italian words you’ve learned to recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know.

Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!

The best part? You can try FluentU for free with a 15-day trial.

Start using Fluent on the website, or better yet, download the app from the iTunes or Google Play store for iOS and Android devices.

You can also try out the Italian online games from Digital Dialects. You can learn anything from numbers, to greetings, to food vocabulary, while hearing a native speaker enunciate the words. They also have visually arresting graphics that’ll make learning seem like play.

Whatever you do, begin and end with something in Italian. It’s the best way to punctuate your day.

5. Learn One Bit of Italian Culture Every Day

Isolated language study day in and day out soon becomes a chore. You’ve got to make the language come alive. You’ve got to contextualize the vocabulary you’re learning so it’s not all just some words to memorize.

One of the best ways to do that is by cozying up with Italian culture. It’s really a wide-ranging and far-reaching topic and there’s almost no limit to what you can find out about it. For example, you can learn about Italian food. You can absorb just as much Italian vocabulary by studying up on different Italian recipes, cooking preparations and techniques as you could from a textbook.

Plus, there’s no shortage of native speakers who are proud of their culture and can showcase it for you to appreciate. Check out this awesome playlist of Italian vlogs to start discovering some. You might even appreciate the language even more because of this. If you let them, they’ll take you on an adventure bigger than you initially imagined.

You can also take free language and culture courses such as this one on edX.

Widen your Italian horizons and you’ll never run out of interesting things to learn.

6. Subscribe to Italian Multimedia Content

Today’s internet is every language learner’s dream. Never have people been so blessed with so much multimedia content to choose from. All you need to do is pick resources that resonate with you.

With YouTube alone, you have great picks, from language lessons and grammar insights, to food and travel vlogs that will satisfy your Italian fix. For example, subscribe to ItalianPod101 and access hundreds of language lessons that teach you a wide range of subjects including Italian phrases, greetings and manners. Their videos are professionally produced and come with helpful pictures and graphics.

Or you can check out the YouTube series Learn Italian with Me, where the host, Luana, mixes language, travel and culture into an intoxicating concoction that’s bound to make your day.

Imagine what this constant supply of content can do for your linguistic efforts! Treat these resources as food to nourish you daily and your mind will be full to the brim with language learning.

7. Talk Aloud in Italian

We close this list with another very important aspect of the language journey: that of actually speaking the target language. You can’t ever learn to speak Italian if you never speak Italian. Speak broken, grammatically incorrect and confused Italian, if need be. But at least speak.

Don’t be like many language learners who only break into talking when they think they have sufficient knowledge of the language.

Talk. Let yourself vividly feel how the words roll off your tongue. Let your very own two ears hear your version of the Italian language, as it goes up and down different registers. Try to do this on a daily basis, multiple times a day, in short bursts.

Here are some opportunities you can take for speaking in Italian every day:

  • Use language exchange platforms to find native speakers to have conversations with. For example, you can go to My Language Exchange and find an Italian who’s interested in teaching you his or her mother tongue.

Check out italki and Conversation Exchange for more native speakers. (They’ll teach you Italian if you help them with English—thus the name “language exchange.”)

  • Hire an Italian tutor. For an online tutor, Verbling is the first place to look. You’ll get to search through hundreds upon hundreds of qualified language tutors with a huge range of experience. You might find a native Italian speaker looking to get into the tutoring game with little experience, thus offering wonderfully low prices to get started, or you might find a trained and certified tutor with many years of experience.
  • Talk when prompted. If the audiobook you’re listening to says, “Repeat after me. . .” then repeat. Verbalize. Roll those “Rs.”
  • Heck, if you don’t find anybody to listen, talk to yourself. Lock the door of your bedroom and talk aloud to yourself. Walk around, stay in bed, sit on a chair, but talk!

 

The same goes for the six other daily habits mentioned here. They’ll lead you to triumphs and breakthroughs you never thought possible. Do them and the linguistic rewards will be priceless.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.

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