Imagine being in a restaurant in small-town Italy.
You’re trying to explain that you want pepperoni meat on your pizza, not bell peppers.
But you can’t find the right words!
This kind of thing happens to language learners all the time.
That’s why vocabulary is so important to learning a new language.
You need it to explain and create the world around you, whether you want to add a certain pizza ingredient or describe the meal that you had to someone later.
Vocabulary is the cornerstone of languages, the most basic set of building blocks to construct your Italian skills.
Including vocabulary exercises in your learning will expand and advance your language capabilities.
Why Should Vocabulary Exercises Be a Priority in Your Italian Practice?
For one, they help improve your reading comprehension. Did you know that to understand what they’re reading, a person has to know around 98% of the words? If you have a small vocabulary, you’re going to have a lot of trouble understanding what you try to read in Italian. Building and maintaining vocabulary will greatly grow your comprehension.
Having a good vocabulary also expands your depth of Italian skills in general. A vast vocabulary improves your ability to communicate and allows you to have more intelligent and complex conversations with Italian speakers. It also improves your processing time if you can understand words without a second thought.
Vocabulary exercises help you practice several skills at once without fully noticing it. While grammar drills may help you learn… well, grammar, vocabulary exercises can also help you learn new grammar by cognitively connecting words you recognize. Grammar without vocabulary won’t get you very far.
It’s important to work on both your passive and active vocabularies, which vocabulary exercises are great for. Are there words that you know you understand, but you aren’t comfortable using yourself? That’s what’s known as passive vocabulary. On the other hand, words that you understand and can also work into a conversation are called active vocabulary.
Italian vocabulary exercises help you build both your active and passive vocabularies. Repeated exposure to a word will make it recognizable enough to become part of your passive vocabulary. If you continue to hear and understand it, it will become ingrained enough for you to use as part of your active vocabulary. Soon you’ll be actively using your vocab knowledge like a pro!
Feast Your Eyes on 6 Italian Vocabulary Exercise Resources
Below are some of our favorite resources for Italian vocabulary exercises!
Mastering your vocabulary is one thing, but putting it into practice can be quite another. This is why IE Languages is an incredibly helpful tool. It’s not enough to know the word. You have to know its pronunciation and its context.
This website has six sections of straightforward Italian lessons to help you build your vocabulary and to help you practice orally and aurally. Each section teaches you new and increasingly difficult vocabulary. You get to hear the words spoken by a native Italian, and you get a pronunciation guide to help you repeat after the recordings.
If you’re looking to expand your vocabulary in a fun, engaging and context-rich way, FluentU is a great option! FluentU is full of authentic Italian content, with videos such as movie trailers, music videos, news and commercials. All videos include interactive captions to make learning easier and more enjoyable. FluentU also includes activities and quizzes to test your growing vocabulary.
Listening to videos, reading the captions and participating in the quizzes familiarizes you with real-world examples of vocabulary that you might not come across in other programs. You can learn the words that Italian native speakers use in their everyday lives. This expands your conversational lexicon while also building on basic Italian vocabulary. FluentU is suitable for every level of learning, whether you’re just beginning, at an intermediate level or beyond.
The best part is that you can use FluentU’s simple and addictive format as a complete language course, as it doesn’t just teach you vocab but also grammar and sentence structure in real-life context. You can use it intermittently throughout the day, or for extended periods of time, and it keeps track of your progress along the way for you.
This website is the jack-of-all-trades of vocabulary exercises. It offers a number of ways to learn new words and build on the ones you know. There are study activities, and play activities. Quizlet’s flashcards work your vocabulary knowledge and also offer pronunciation by native Italian speakers. Flashcards are a great learning tool for languages because they’re simple and repetitive. On Quizlet, there are categories for you to guess the English or Italian translation of the words they show you. You can transform your passive vocabulary with the “Spell” category.
Then there are the games! If you like brain games, they have a fast-paced matching game to keep you on your toes and your vocab on the tip of your tongue. If you prefer arcade games, then you’ll enjoy “Gravity.” This game is a Quizlet twist on the classic space invaders-style game. Asteroids with Italian words on them are falling towards Earth! In order to stop them, you have to type the correct translation into the box. It’s an easy way to work a little excitement into your learning.
If you can’t get enough of learning through games, then Digital Dialects is for you. The main page offers over 15 different categories to choose from. You can practice numbers, animals, colors or even just general vocabulary.
Different categories offer different styles of games, so you’re never stuck playing the same thing over and over. Each category also lets you review the relevant vocabulary before starting, so you’re not going into the games underprepared. The games help you practice recall through repetition and imagery, which helps immensely in building your active vocabulary.
Once you’ve tackled all their primary games, they even have a collection of advanced games for you to move on to!
This easy-to-use website is a perfect online tool for expanding your vocabulary. Its basic layout sorts your activity choices into categories: flashcards, matching games and scatter matching games. While the website itself may look simple, the resources they offer are anything but. Each category has a wide range of vocabulary options for you to study and practice. They even have more complex vocabulary topics, such as medicine, furniture and education.
With a number of ways to learn and a ton of vocabulary, this website is a quick and simple choice. So no matter what learning level you are, Soft Schools is highly beneficial.
This great app offers a number of ways to practice and build your vocabulary. As words are introduced, you’re given an associated image and a native speaker’s pronunciation of the word. As you become more familiar with the words, you have to match them to their translations, or vice versa, then practice writing them.
You’ll learn words, and then you’ll still have to review them from time to time in the speed review, which is a race against the clock to match word and definition or translation.
If you don’t feel like doing the speed review when they suggest it, you can go off track and choose to learn new words, do a regular review or work on other skills. “Listening skills,” which is available through the “pro” version, shows you videos of native Italians speaking the vocabulary you’re currently learning.
Whether you use the free or the pro version of Memrise, it’s an invaluable way to spend anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours building your Italian vocabulary.
Vocabulary is the most basic set of building blocks you need to construct comprehension in a new language.
If you work hard using these resources, you can build your way to complete fluency!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.