No one studies the Italian language to be mediocre at it.
None of us have ever embarked on a language-learning journey by saying, “I want to be so-so in Italian. You know, just okay at it.”
We all want to do well.
We dream of schmoozing while admiring the art in the Uffici Gallery, writing blog posts about how much the Tower really leans in Pisa or reading a menu in a trattoria in Umbra.
So, you say you want to be fluent?
Well, if you want to chat like a local in Rome or blend with residents on the Amalfi coast, you need to be able to converse in Italian.
Not like a beginning learner, either: You’ll need to converse fluently.
And the best way to gain conversational fluency is through conversation practice!
Why Italian Conversation Practice Is Important for Learners
We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect. And it’s true: Practicing Italian speaking will get you close to that sought-after goal of perfection.
And, equally important, it’ll give you confidence in yourself and your language skills. Let’s face it: Acing any endeavor requires confidence, and learning Italian is no different.
You need to be comfortable with lots of vocabulary and understand basic grammar rules. You should be familiar with the nuances, idioms and cadence of the language.
Comfort and confidence both come with practice. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it and the less intimidating all these language issues become.
Conversation practice can improve communications skills by helping to nail down vocabulary (we need all those beautiful Italian words to speak, right?) and solidifying grammar usage. Parts of speech begin to fall into place when they’re used regularly. Conjugating verbs becomes second nature with practice.
Practicing your conversation skills also powers up all your other Italian language skills. Even reading, provided you incorporate some of the written word into your conversations! Reading aloud and then discussing what you’ve read with someone is a super way to do that. Book club, anyone?
So schedule conversation practice into your Italian language program the same way you schedule vocabulary drills, learning grammar rules, fun reading time and thoughtful listening practice.
Get Some Italian Conversation Practice with 8 Chatty Choices
If you’re not quite ready to dive into conversation practice with a real human being, you can start slow and gain some confidence on your own with FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Simply fire up any of the authentic videos on the program and practice your speaking skills by speaking along with the video.
Interactive subtitles ensure you can keep up, while video-infused flashcards and adaptive quizzes make it easier to grasp any new vocabulary you come across. Try it with a free FluentU trial!
Online Italian Conversation Practice
Taking your conversations online gives both speakers the mobility we all crave—chat anytime, anywhere!
When you choose an online conversation partner, try to find someone who shares your interests or lives in a region that you want to hear about. You could talk sports, get travel tips or fashion advice—there’s no rule about what partners converse about, so look for a partner who you have something in common with.
Potential conversation partners on these sites have profiles. These profiles indicate their native language, any additional languages they speak and other pertinent information. Peruse the profiles to choose the ideal conversational partner!
This program is the a go-to spot for Italian conversation. They have thousands of native-speaking teachers in many languages who are available to either teach a language or help a learner build their skills.
The process is simple. Choose a teacher, schedule a lesson and then the fun begins!
Practicing here means one-on-one learning with a qualified teacher. Any conversational skills you gain will be completely on point!
This resource is a personalized and effective method for gaining confidence in chatting like an Italian!
A bonus with italki is their language exchange program. This enables learners to find other others like them who want to practice their language skills. In return for teaching you Italian, you can teach your partner English (or any other language you know well enough).
Just browse the profiles, choose a partner and begin conversing!
Finding an online conversational exchange partner is a snap with WeSpeke.
The partners on WeSpeke are native Italian speakers, so authentic pronunciation will be modeled during every exchange!
Practice partners are located all over the world and there’s a focus on matching people who share interests and learning goals.
Practice takes place using text, audio or video, which means that there’s a conversational method to suit nearly everyone.
Learners also get access to a handy WeSpeke notebook that compiles and saves content from partner chats. Expressions, new vocabulary and other essentials are stored in the notebook and are ready for review or use at any time.
Check out an example of a video chat to get a sense of what using this program is like.
Tandem is a conversational speaking app that allows learners to locate native Italian speakers from any region of the country.
This language and cultural exchange tool brings authentic Italian to learners whenever they’ve got a spare minute. With over three million users on the app, there’s always someone to chat with, without the need to schedule a chat session.
Tandem stresses that there are different dialects of Italian spoken in various parts of the country. So if you’re looking to go to a particular place and want to perfect your skills—or even pick up some slangy expressions—connect with a speaker from that area!
This site is gaining new members all the time, so if you don’t see one who shares your conversation and language goals, check back in a few days. Chances are, there will be new profiles, and maybe one of them is your ideal conversation partner!
Each profile clearly states what languages the learner speaks and what method of conversation is preferable. Conversation Exchange has their own partner chat program, so if you’d rather not use Skype, this is an option.
Many members request to be pen-pals in addition to online conversation. So, if you’re looking for a chance to practice your Italian writing, this might be a good option for you.
My Language Exchange
Online Language Exchange is a super spot to find an Italian conversation partner!
There are many language learners from across Italy who are eager to share their language skills with others. This means you’ll be exposed to native speakers so pronunciation should be authentic—and perfectly suited as a model for your own speech.
As the name implies, the focus here is on language exchange: your partner helps you with your Italian and you help your partner gain English skills. What’s not to love?
Although there’s a free member option, some portions of this site require members to sign up and either pay a fee or earn benefits. Sound confusing? It’s not; the options open to free members and paid are all laid out so it’s clear to see what areas are accessible to everyone and what features require members to pay a small monthly fee.
InterPals is a global community whose purpose is to match up language practice partners, new friends, travel buddies or cultural exchange learners.
There are profiles from practically everywhere in the world, so meeting someone to practice a language with won’t be difficult.
The great news for Italian language learners is that there are tons of profiles showcasing learners in Italy. They’re native speakers eager for language exchange!
This site requires learners to sign up and create a profile. Once you’re signed in, you’re free to browse the profiles and find a conversation partner who’ll help hone your skills.
Be aware that some members use this as a dating service, but it’s also a great way to meet new people and practice your Italian skills.
In-person Italian Conversation Practice
Face-to-face conversations can’t be beat, can they? They really are the ideal way to conduct conversation practice.
Speakers can gauge some clues from facial expressions and body language if they don’t completely understand what’s being said. This makes discerning meanings simpler which builds confidence. And as we know, confidence is a key component of comfortable conversation!
Here are two resources for adding in-person conversations to your Italian language program.
Use this service to find a language tutor near you.
To find a tutor in your area, simply put your location into the search engine. Browse the list of nearby tutors. Hire one and start speaking!
Honestly, it’s that easy.
There’s no minimum time or lesson commitment, so you’re free to take as few or as many lessons as you’d like.
The only drawback is that the service is currently only available in a number of locations worldwide, but they have plans to expand more in the coming years, so keep an eye on this one if it isn’t available in your location yet.
Meetup puts like-minded people in contact with each other. No matter what your interests are, there are probably others who share them on this site!
Language learning is a focal point on this site. At the top right of the homepage, there’s a section targeted at language and culture. If you click onto it, then submit your location information on the next page, you’ll find a listing of all the Italian conversation or language meetings in your area.
Join a meetup group and head to the next meeting they host to find lots of local conversation partners!
Even More Local Options!
Want even more ways to find a local Italian conversational partner? Here are some ideas!
- Colleges and universities are super places to find conversation partners. Contact the language studies office of your local institution and ask what kind of Italian social groups they have.
- Libraries are also excellent spots to find an Italian language partner. Even small-town libraries have bulletin boards that list activities, events and people looking for all kinds of situations.
If you don’t find an ad for a language partner, tack a note to the board asking for an Italian conversation partner, yourself. You might find someone just like you who’s hoping to practice speaking!
- Craigslist isn’t just for car sales, job listings and apartment rentals. Nearly every city’s site has an “activities” section. That’s where you’re likely to find a local language partner.
Again, if there are no listing for conversation partners, consider placing the ad yourself. The goal is to find someone to speak with, so spread the word!
- Italian cultural groups like to celebrate and share all things Italian—including the language! Most big cities have cultural groups and most of those groups can hook people up with conversation partners.
But don’t assume that only big cities like Seattle, New York and Los Angeles host cultural groups. Look close to home, even if you’re in a small town. The group you find may be a few towns away but it could be well worth the drive to practice your conversational skills!
There’s no doubt about it. The best way to gain Italian conversation skills is to practice.
Then, practice some more.
Luckily, conversation partners are everywhere!
Make honing this skill a priority of your language program.
You’ll have lots of great experiences, maybe make some new friends and be fully prepared to chat like a local on your next visit to The Boot!
Good luck—and have fun!