Buona notte e sogni d’oro! (Good night and golden dreams!)
Those words can be heard all across Italy when nighttime comes around and sleepy little ones are tucked into bed, when lovers part with un bacio (a kiss), when couples married for decades settle in for the night.
It’s a very beautiful expression. But it makes me wonder: Can dreams really be golden?
Sleep is important to your body and mind, but can it also be good for your language skills?
Now I’ve got you thinking, and you’re not even asleep! (I hope you’re not, anyway!)
Maybe you’ve heard of sleep learning, or maybe you stumbled onto this article with absolutely no knowledge of it.
Either way, now you need to know: Is it really possible to learn Italian in your sleep?
È possibile! (It’s possible!)
Sleep learning is still being studied. Researchers across the globe are looking into the possibility of turning those golden dreams into increased knowledge.
If it’s even remotely possible to learn while sleeping—and maybe snoring!—it’s worth looking into, isn’t it?
So let’s run down the ins and outs of sleep learning and check out some resources for learning la bellissima lingua italiana (the beautiful Italian language) while we’re snoozing!
The Science Behind Learning Italian in Your Sleep
Some research indicates that language learning during sleep is possible due to a technique called verbal cueing. The idea is to reintroduce words that the subject was exposed to when he or she was awake.
The hope is that hearing vocabulary while you sleep will aid language retention during waking hours.
One study focused on a group of native German speakers who were learning Dutch. When the learners were sleeping, scientists played back Dutch words that the learners had already studied. Some results were startling: Researchers observed a nearly 10% increase in vocabulary retention using this method!
This study has been looked into by many, with the majority agreeing that subliminal reinforcement of newly-learned vocabulary helps you remember the words when you’re awake.
So, at least to some extent, sleep learning actually works!
But can you learn completely new vocabulary like this?
There are hints at the possibility: The Weizmann Institute of Science conducted a study that indicates that people can learn new information while they’re sleeping. Their test was related to olfactory and auditory cues (smells and sounds), not verbal ones, but the idea that people learn anything during dream time is intriguing!
Still, none of the research directly supports the idea that you can learn a new language completely from scratch.
So the takeaway on the basics of sleep learning? It probably won’t teach you Italian skills that you don’t know yet, but it can reinforce information you’re already studying—especially vocabulary.
If you’re considering sleep learning as an addition to your Italian program, focus on vocabulary. Loads of audio materials featuring vocabulary drills is the way to go!
Fortunately, there are plenty of vocabulary-heavy resources to choose from, some made specifically for learning in your sleep. Let’s check some out!
Learn Italian While You Sleep with 6 Dreamy Resources
Since studies have shown that sleep learning is ideal for reviewing existing material (and not learning new material), I recommend that you do an initial run-through of these resources during waking hours. This way, the vocabulary is already somewhat familiar to you when your head hits the pillow.
When choosing your own resources to use, seek out ones that focus on vocabulary, feature clear pronunciation and repeat words (and their definitions) more than once.
Some of the resources below are made specifically for sleep learning. Others have elements that make them suitable for the learning method. Enojoy one or try them all. Sweet dreams!
Yes, YouTube is filled with music videos, clips of cats doing crazy stunts and vine compilations. But it’s also an awesome place for finding videos to use in Italian sleep learning! Below are some of the best:
- Sleep Learning uses binaural beats in its Italian phrase sleep video. Binaural beats are presented as different tones heard in each ear. Their effectiveness, like sleep learning, is still being researched.
This video presents Italian without showing any written accompaniment. That makes sense, since users are supposed to be listening while they’re sleeping and not watching the screen!
- ItalianPod 101’s “Learn Italian in 8 Hours” teaches beginner vocabulary and basic phrases in your sleep, and also uses bunaural beats. You can request a PDF of the phrases included, for review beforehand.
If you’re sleeping, you’ll miss the gorgeous airplane wing cloud scene that the phrases are presented with, but hopefully, you’ll be filing away some of those important phrases!
- Eko Languages presents 125 basic phrases in their video “Learn Italian While You Sleep.” Their choice of phrases covers just about everything a beginning level learner would want to know!
- Learn Italian with Italiano Automatico (Automatic Italian) has a series of videos that teach Italian slowly. That is, the videos are short in duration and everything is spoken at a slow rate so that listeners can absorb the material being presented.
They’re made to be repeated and it’s suggested that a playlist of the videos be made and used for optimal learning.
And if you love learning with YouTube when you’re asleep, you’ll love studying with FluentU when you’re awake.
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!
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the app from iTunes or the Google Play store.
Sleep Learning’s “Learn Italian While You Sleep” is a CD meant to be played during sleep time. It teaches 850 important Italian words to learners.
Why 850? Sleep Learning’s research shows that in any language most speakers only use about 850 words daily.
The material indicates that this can have learners speaking Italian in only 30 days.
This audiobook stresses Italian vocabulary by presenting 101 of the most frequently used words and phrases.
That makes it an excellent resource to help gain (and retain) a solid core vocabulary.
The program uses native speakers so pronunciation is authentic!
Audio Novo is a program that stresses learning Italian quickly and easily through 30-minute lessons.
It’s suited for sleep learning because the recording repeats vocabulary at regular intervals, something the studies on sleep learning cite as being beneficial to the process.
Additionally, the program uses native Italian speakers, so modeling pronunciation after the authentic content is a win!
VocabuLearn Power Italian is an audio CD program that takes learners from beginning level vocabulary up through advanced words and phrases.
I have actually used this CD and it proved very helpful. Although I must admit, I didn’t use it during sleeping hours. I played it in the car and it definitely had a positive impact on vocabulary retention!
The Living Language method of learning Italian consists of three books, online resources and nine audio CDs.
The CDs are so vocabulary-heavy they’re perfectly suited to sleep learning. They’re filled with essential vocabulary lists that are introduced from basic level to more advanced.
Additionally, the vocabulary lists are frequently repeated for optimal retention!
So, what about those Italian golden dreams? The ones that involve Italian language learners waking with a great big Italian skill set and beautiful Italian words spilling from between their lips?
I hate to burst your bubble but they’re probably not realistic. Research is ongoing but at this point, it doesn’t look like that’s what happens with sleep learning.
But reinforcing vocabulary that’s already been learned isn’t a bad thing at all—and that seems definitely doable!
Who knows? Maybe your Italian language dreams will turn your Italian skills golden!
Tutto è possibile! (Anything’s possible!)
Buona fortuna! E buona notte! (Good luck! And good night!)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.