It’s nice to eat sweet and yummy things, but it’s important to eat your veggies, too.
The same goes for your Italian learning.
But you’ll never get a full Italian meal without your vegetables: Italian language exercises.
You might have a love-hate relationship with drills and exercises.
You know you need to get through a lot of them to reach your goals, but they’re just not as delicious as the more fun ways to learn.
So before we get to the good stuff, indulge me as we briefly look into what might be causing your negative mindset, and see how you can adroitly sidestep the negativity and move on with your learning!
Because, honestly, vegetables can be yummy too.
3 Reasons You Might Be Avoiding Italian Exercises (and the Secrets to Overcoming Them)
1. You Think You’re Not Ready
You actually have nothing against drills and exercises, and you think they’re important. But the things is… you’re just not sure if you’re ready for them.
So you rationalize.
Truth is, you’re just afraid. You think you’ll get most of the questions wrong, and it’ll be a blow to your ego. Besides, you always compare them to the drills and exercises that you had in class (which were brutal).
Here’s the secret:
You’re afraid of making mistakes, and that’s the real mistake.
Mistakes are a crucial part of learning a new language and you should be ready to make a whole lot of them.
No fluent speaker was ever born with a complete understanding of his native tongue.
It’s time to think of exercises and drills in a whole new light. Think of them as a guide that points you to the concepts that need further studying time.
Let’s say you get three out of 10 answers right in a vocabulary exercises about Italian colors. It makes you think, “I need to study colors.” So you spend some time on the topic.
You take the exercise again, and you get seven out of 10 this time. You’re getting a little warmer, but you still say, “I’d better focus on the three that I got wrong.” So you have at it again.
Then you take the drill again and this time you ace it.
And then you say, “Oooh, this multiple choice quiz about Italian animals is so tempting.”
So where’s the ego-bruising in this kind of mindset? It’s nowhere to be found.
Don’t get discouraged and always keep moving forward!
2. You Don’t Have the Time
You’re just way too busy to be doing Italian language drills.
Maybe you’re a full time student, a full time office worker or a full time parent to a cute baby who leaks on both ends. And, in the greater scheme of things, who has the time to match translations, re-arrange words or fill in the blanks, right?
Yes, you have that time.
And you don’t even need to give anything up to make room for Italian exercises. Because honestly, you can do it all.
Here’s the secret:
You’re grossly overestimating the time it takes to do some exercises.
How many minutes does it really take to answer ten questions? Seriously.
If you don’t believe me, time yourself. Do an exercise and see how much time you spent with it.
You’ll realize that it takes less time than writing a strongly worded YouTube comment.
When you realize how little time is actually required, you’ll be more encouraged to do exercises on a regular basis.
3. You Don’t Think They Really Help
They sound so old-school, right? And do they really, actually help?
You’re looking for something more… cutting edge and modern, something your grandfather didn’t have access too.
I mean, you’re using FluentU to study Italian, a super-interactive learning experience! It doesn’t get more exciting that that.
And if you’re not on FluentU yet, you’re missing out on some excellent authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—rolled up into personalized lessons. Awesome!
But multiple choice questions and fill in the blanks? They all sound so… passé.
Here’s the secret:
If you only use exercises after you’ve mastered a topic then they really are useless.
The trick is to be a little uncomfortable when taking these exercises.
You wouldn’t take a math quiz that asks what 2+2 is, would you?
Good Italian exercises exist to stretch you a bit and the mistakes you make become a part of the learning process. For example, you’ll never forget that red is “rosso” in Italian because you once got it wrong on a drill.
There’s a reason schools have been using them for ages! Exercises and drills are very useful as tools for testing and improving your skills.
And with that, we now turn to the good stuff and look into the places online where you can get these drills and exercises, so you can take them as often as you want.
5 Online Resources for Italian Exercises
If you’re like me and love free stuff, then you’ll absolutely adore the Online Italian Club. Here you’ll find awesome articles, audios and exercises for learners of different sizes and persuasions.
Their materials keenly follow the standards set forth by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Whether you’re A1 level (an absolute beginner) or C2 level (someone highly proficient in the language), you’ll find content specifically suited to your level at this resource.
Not sure what level you are in Italian? No worries! You can take a test to determine your level and know exactly where you are in your Italian language learning journey.
The Online Italian Club contains ladderized practice materials that cover grammar (with a separate section for verbs), vocabulary, conversations, and listening comprehension. You also get transcripts of all the dialogues so you can confidently follow along.
The exercises only get a little more difficult as you progress, so you really don’t get overwhelmed. It’s like the perfect hug: not too soft, not too tight.
For those wanting to get a solid footing on Italian grammar, you’ll find plenty of exercises to hone your conjugating chops here.
This wonderful piece of work is courtesy of Cristina Mazzoni, Director of Italian Studies at the University of Vermont.
Grammar is divided into 13 sections with topics like prepositions, verbs and adjectives getting their fair share of attention. Before the exercises, you’ll get a quick, no-nonsense, condensed explanation of the rules for the said grammar topic.
You’ll find a link to exercises at the bottom of each page. The drills usually require you to fill in the blanks. With a click of a button, you’ll know which items you got right and which ones require more work.
The 14th section covers vocabulary. It’s perfect for language learners who want to add more words and phrases to their Italian treasure chest.
One World Italiano is your one-stop-shop for Italian lessons online.
It’s the online component of The One World Language Centre, an Italian language school based in Cagliari, Sardinia. If you can’t come to their brick and mortar school, you can still learn from Anne Rita, Julia and company through the resources they have provided online.
There’s an “Italian Course 1” for beginners and “Italian Course 2” for intermediate students. The courses will take you through the grammar, vocabulary, listening and reading components of the language.
Of course, the site is brimming with exercises and drills that test and sharpen your language skills. It has tons of exercises that deal with verb tenses alone!
You’ll find reordering, matching, gap-fill and multiple choice exercises. And, they constantly update their site so you’ll always have fresh material to sink your teeth into.
Check them out now. Realize that, no matter your score, you’ll live.
University of Victoria’s Department of Hispanic & Italian Studies is one of those institutions that puts their course materials online. Their students can then independently learn from home (or anywhere else, for that matter).
Luckily for Italian language learners, these materials don’t hide behind a paywall and can be accessed anytime, anywhere—by anyone.
The exercises you’ll find here are specifically designed to accompany a class called “Italian 100.” If you want a workout on basic Italian topics like days of the week, numbers, greetings, this is a fun way to do it.
You’ll get to do exercises like crossword puzzles, basic arithmetic (for Italian numbers), even translate English questions into their Italian interrogative forms. Want to learn how to tell time? There’s a cool drill were you’ll be shown a clock face and you’ll have to type the time shown.
Don’t worry. The exercises have the “Hint” or “Show Answer” buttons to help you along. And if you want to start all over again, just hit your browser’s “Refresh” button and everything will be good as new.
Just like the previous one, this is another one of those nondescript sites that was created a couple of years back. It’ll get obvious as soon as you see the interface.
But don’t let the outdated look put you off: this online resource contains a couple of gems to boost your Italian.
You could say that the site is an early example of “crowd-sourcing” because the tests and exercises contained here are made by users. There’s a “test builder” that takes you through the process of creating your own tests that other users can then take.
The site curates the exercises according to test type. For example, tests that cover “adjectives” are grouped together.
You can take the tests on the site (and you won’t experience a shortage of them) but there’s an even better way to improve your language skills: by creating the exercises yourself.
Making your own test gets you on a different kind of mindset. It doesn’t just get you thinking about answering the questions correctly, it gets you thinking of the grammar rules themselves, or the nuances inherent in them.
You’ll pick up more insights making the tests than just answering them, so I highly recommend you creating some for others. It’ll take more time and require more effort on your part, but that’s exactly why you’ll gain more from the experience.
That said, I wish you the best of luck in your Italian language journey. Learning a new language is such a wonderful challenge, and these exercises will take you one step closer to the ultimate goal: fluency!
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