Italian Language Facts.

Italian language has a long history and it raises interest among learners due to its natural musicality, romance as well as beauty. Bellow you can find some interesting facts about this foreign language, its status, unique features and characteristics, dialects and more.

  1. Italian has the official language status in 4 countries – Italy, San Marino, Vatican and Switzerland (one of four languages). You can also find quite a lot of speakers of this language in countries like Malta, Croatia, Vatican, Slovenia, Corsica and Nice (France). There are also a lot of speakers in Argentina, where it is even a second most spoken language in the country. Since Italy used to have colonies in Africa, there are still people speaking this language in Libya and Eritrea. Although in recent years the number of Italian speakers in these African countries have declined a lot. If we would look at the statistics, we would find that there are about 64 million people who speak Italian as a first and about 21 million people who learned it as a foreign language. These numbers make Italian 3-rd most spoken language in European Union (EU) and 20-th in the world (as a first language).

  2. Italian language originates from Latin and it belongs to Romance group of Indo-European language family. When compared with other Romance languages, Italian is known to have the most resemblance to Latin. Learners who are familiar with other Romance languages can expect to find vocabulary and grammatical structure similarities in Italian. Even up to 85% of Italian vocabulary can be similar to languages like Spanish and French, which makes learning these foreign languages together significantly easier.

  3. The formal form of Italian is called Standard Italian and is based on Tuscan dialect, which is used for official and educational purposes and all over the media. Other popular dialects are: Sardinian, Sicilian, Friulian, Ventian, Ligurian and etc. Dialects differ to a point that speakers from different regions might find it hard to understand each other. For example, Sicilian dialect is even considered by some linguistics as distinct as a separate language. However, you shouldn’t be worried about this too much because most Italians communicate with foreigners in Standard form. Due to different dialects in the regions, you can easily guess where the person is from. For example, in Tuscany a letter C sounds more like H.

  4. the-divine-comedyA writer Dante Alighieri was one of the first writers to formalize Italian written form in his well-known book The Divine Comedy. His work is considered to be the basis for Italian written form, because quite a lot of grammar and style rules derived from his books. There were some Italian documents that were written significantly earlier (between years 960-963 by Petrarch), however they weren’t so extensive. Both of these mentioned writers were very important in creating a path for standardized Italian. However, it is important to mention that it took quite a lot of time until Italy had its official national language. When Tuscan dialect was selected as national language in 1861, only ~2.5% of Italians were able to communicate in this dialect.

  5. Italian uses Latin alphabet, which consists of a total of 21 letters. There are lower number of letters in alphabet, because j, k, w, x and y are not included. However, these letters can be still found in loan words, where their pronunciation depends on the words they are being used in. In Italian you can expect to find quite a lot of words borrowed from English language. For example, il computer, il marketing and etc. Some of these words are a bit Italianized for instance stoppare, which means stop and cliccare, which means to click on the mouse in English. There are a couple of words that seems similar to English, although they have a different meaning in Italian. For example, pepperoni is quite similar to English pepper; however, it means a variety of sausage. So, don’t confuse these two words while ordering pizza. The other word – una camera is similar to camera in English; however, it actually means room. Due to the fact that almost all words in Italian end with a vowel, Italian is considered to be highly musical. Also, vowels can have diacritic marks (à, è, ì, ò, and ù), which changes pronunciation of words.

  6. italian-language-factsSubject, verb and object is the most common word order that is used in Italian sentence. Adjectives can go either before or after the nouns they modify (they agree in number and gender). Nouns in Italian have number (plural or singular) and they are marked for gender (masculine or feminine). Most European languages add s to show that a noun is plural, however in Italian a final vowel is being changed. While there are exceptions, most masculine nouns in Italian end with o and feminine – a. Articles in this foreign language can be definite and indefinite and they agree with number & gender of a noun. Since the whole Italian grammar is Latin based, you can find quite a lot of similarities with Portuguese, French and other Romance languages.

10 Important Reasons To Learn Italian Language.

Are you still on the fence whether you should learn Italian? Then you came to the right place. In this article we provided a list of some of the most important reasons to study Italian. Some of the reasons are related to career, statistics and culture while other motives are more personal. Read on and maybe by the end of the article you will come up with your own reasons to study Italian.

1. Italian Makes Learning Other Languages Easier.

Italian belongs to Romance group of languages. Hence it shares quite a lot of similarities with languages such as French, Spanish, Romanian and Portuguese. Similarities can be found in vocabulary and grammatical structures. Italian grammar is especially closely related to French.

Some speakers of Italian claim that they are able to get around in Spain or Brazil without too much difficulty. This is not surprising, because many of Portuguese and Spanish words are similar to Italian. Hence learners who have plans to study other Romance languages later, should consider starting with Italian. On the contrary, everyone who is familiar with one of Romance language, will find learning Italian significantly easier task as well.

2. Understand Original Italian Literature and Movies.

Italian Literature

For literature and movie enthusiasts, Italian is one of the best choices for languages learning. This is because Italy is exceptionally rich in movies and literature.

Most Italian books and movies today are translated into English and other languages. Nevertheless reading original book or watching a film without subtitles can be significantly better experience. During translation process some parts of the story can be lost or not expressed fully. Hence learners who have some Italian knowledge should definitely try reading or watching an original piece. While it can be challenging, it can also help you pick up some new words or expressions.

When it comes to literature, Italy is best-known for its classic Divina Commedia, which was written by Dante. Other more modern literature pieces are Le Citta Invisibily (Italo Calvino), Decamerone (Giovanni Boccaccio), Il Gattopardo (Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa) and others.

Like movies more? Not a problem. When it comes to Italian, the list of movies in this language is huge. You can watch all time classics such as La vita e bella, La Dolce Vita, Cinema Paradiso, Vincere and many others.

3. Easy to Learn For English Speakers.

For English speakers Italian is one of the easiest languages to study. This statement is confirmed by Foreign Service Institute, which puts Italian in the 1-st category of language difficulty. Based on FSI, languages in this group are the easiest to study for English speakers. On average it takes up to 600 hours of learning to have general proficiency in this language. Languages in other categories can take even more than 1000 hours to achieve the same level. Hence you will need to dedicate way less time for Italian studying.

The main reason for Italian being easy is that its phonetic. What it means is that it is pronounced the same way as it is written. Also both Italian and English share the same alphabet. Due to this learning how to read in Italian is an easy task for most learners. Italian and English both have Latin roots. As a result you will be able to guess the meaning of many Italian words. All these mentioned features makes Italian a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want to challenge themselves too much.

4. Learn to Pronounce Your Favorite Foods Correctly.

Italian Foods

Did you know that everyone’s loved pasta and pizza originates from Italy? In fact when compared with other countries, Italy has one of the most fascinated kitchens around the world. Italians love for food can be reflected in their language as well. When compared with other languages, Italian has the largest number words to describe foods and restaurants.

Italian chefs are well known for traditional dishes like ravioli, pesto, risotto or carbonara. And who doesn’t like Italian deserts such as tiramisu, cannoli or zeppole? The same could be said about one of the kind traditional Italian coffee and wine.

Many people are obsessed and fascinated by Italian foods, hence they decide to learn Italian. This could be for a reason that they want to order dishes in Italian restaurants with confidence. Others simply want to know the meaning and etymology of their favorite food. Furthermore, Italian language knowledge can be especially needed for anyone who is planning to work as chef in Italy one day.

5. Get The Most from Your Visit in Italy.

Learn Italian for Traveling

One of the most common reasons to learn a foreign language is for traveling purposes. When traveling to Italy, in most cases it is possible to communicate with popular languages like English, German or French. Nevertheless knowing some essential Italian words and phrases can make your stay even more pleasant. As with any country, there are certain situations where local people are not willing to communicate in languages other than their own. When communicating with Italians in Italian, you will have better chances of understanding road directions, getting recommendations about places to visit & eat. Speaking Italian will also show respect for the people and their culture. Hence you can expect people to be nicer and more chatty.

Selecting Italy as your travel destination is definitely a wise choice. Beautiful landscapes, beaches, fascinating historical sites and tasty food are the main reasons why Italy is so likable among tourists. Based on statistics, it is in the 5-th place as the most visited country in the world by tourist arrivals.

6. Learning Languages is Good for Your Brain.

Learning Benefits for Brain

Understanding different foreign languages requires quite a lot effort from our brain. Hence learning new languages is some sort of exercise for brain. By regularly “exercising” we can expect to get benefits such as sharper mind and increased overall intelligence.

Various scientific studies have confirmed that learning a second language can be beneficial for our brains health. It improves our brains cognitive features such as memory and intelligence. Moreover language learning can help to minimize the risk of getting Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases. Also research indicates that it can have a positive effect on brain’s aging and slow down this process.

7. More Job and Business Opportunities.

More Job Opportunities With Italian

Considering working in Italy or Italian based company? In these cases learning Italian can increase your chances of getting your wanted job. Employees with both Italian and English language knowledge are more valuable and it can help to negotiate higher salary. This can be especially true when your job tittle requires direct contact with Italian consumers or colleagues.

People interested to invest in Italy or open a business there, should also consider learning Italian. Of course, it is possible to hire translator or local business adviser. Nevertheless it can be costly and your success will highly depend on other people. When doing business in a new country it is always a good idea to learn about the people, their culture and traditions. This way you can avoid mistakes and make better business decisions.

8. More Chances of Friendship and Love.

More Friendship Opportunities

When talking about Italians, they are usually described as very friendly, funny and kind individuals. Hence who wouldn’t want to have them as friends or even love partners? Based on statistics, about 30% of Italians are able to speak in English. While it is a large percentage, why take your chances? Learning Italian would give you more possibilities to meet new friends. Not only that, but you would be able to connect at a deeper lever and form closer friendships.

One good way to meet Italian speakers and maybe even future friends is to find language pal. There are many different language learning apps available today that can help you do just that. Most of these apps work in exchange principle. You help others to learn English and in exchange someone will assist you with Italian.

9. Italian is a Language of High Fashion World.

Italian Fashion

One of the first places that comes to mind when thinking about fashion is Milan. Many fashion enthusiasts or people working in this area consider this Italian city as a capital of fashion. It even has fashion week, which takes place twice a year. It was first established more than fifty years ago (1958) and even today it is one of the biggest events in fashion worldwide.

Italy is famous for its highly valued fashion brands such as Versace, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and others. Due to high Italy’s importance in fashion many people who relate their career to fashion should consider learning Italian. Speaking this foreign language will come in handy for models, designers, art directors and others. Having Italian on CV can greatly enhance your chances of getting fashion related jobs worldwide.

10. Italian is Spoken in Multiple Countries.

Most people considering to learn Italian usually associate it only with Italy. Nevertheless, one should know that it has official language status in multiple countries. These include Vatican, San Marino and Switcerland (1 of 4-rth languages).

In addition to that, Italian is a commonly spoken language in some areas of Croatia, Malta and Slovenia. Hence learners who have an interest in one of these mentioned countries, should definitely consider studying Italian.

It also has an official language status in EU (European Union). Consequently learners who are seeking a career in EU institutions can benefit from knowing Italian.

6 Best Apps for Learning Italian Language.

While learning a new language in class or via books is great, using apps can make your studying even more effective and engaging. It happens quite frequently throughout the day that we have a few spare minutes. This can be while you wait for a waiter to bring you lunch or your ride home via puplic transport. So why not use this time for learning a few Italian words? And with nowadays technology it is easier than ever.

With a help of your mobile phone or tablet you can download and use many different Italian learning apps. They can be used by complete beginners or learners who want to improve their current skills. Some apps are meant for learning single Italian words and sentences. Others are more advanced and feature engaging workouts to practice different areas of Italian.

We did some research and app testing. And in this article we provided a list of some of the best apps for learning Italian. They were rated based on offered features, ease of use and engagement.

1. Duolingo

Duolingo Free AppIn general Duolingo is completely free language learning app. Nevertheless you would need to spend 9.99 USD to use this app without ads. The other benefit of paid Duolingo membership is that you can use it for studying Italian offline. Although these mentioned benefits are not important for most learners, hence they choose to use free Duolingo version.

One of the first things you will need to do when starting with Duolingo is to set a time goal for learning Italian. This could be 10, 20 or 30 minutes daily, its all up to you. Even though its just five or ten minutes daily, but still by being persistent you will be able to progress in small steps.

Duolingo app teaches Italian through small tasks and exercises. During these workouts you will be asked to translate into Italian, pair English words with Italian, repeat a phrase into your microphone and more. The intent of these exercises is to improve users Italian writing, speaking, reading and listening competences.

This app also does a great job at motivating Italian learners. Just like in a game, all your actions in the program will gain you experience points. You can even set your daily points target. These points show up in the leaderboard as well, hence you can compete with other learners.

As a stand alone studying tool, Duolingo might be not sufficient to advance a lot in Italian. Although it is definitely worthwhile to consider adding it into your learning resource mix.

Duolingo for iOS

Duolingo for Android

2. Memrise

Memrise AppOne possible description of Memrise would be to say that its a set flashcards. Hence the best use of this app is to build Italian vocabulary. To make learning vocabulary more efficient for its users, Memrise uses so called mnemonics. They are basically cues that are meant to help you recover a memory.

Flashcards in Memrise doesn’t simply contain words and their translations. Within different flashcards you will need select answer from multiple choices, comprehend what a native Italian speaker is saying, type in translation and more. Your comprehension of words will be tested later on in review parts. These reviews doesn’t test your Italian knowledge just randomly. By using spaced repetition method, in the beginning they review new vocabulary more frequently and later on it shows up less often.

One quite unique aspect of Memrise app is that quite a lot studying content here is created by users themselves. Of course there is studying material made by Memrise staff as well. All this makes Memrise content unique and interesting. You can expect to deepen your Italian knowledge covering various topics such as business, food, grammar and even slang. Hence it is not just words & phrases, you can learn some Italian grammar as well.

Memrise app is completely free. Although there is also an option to buy pro membership for 4.9 USD monthly. Paid membership can be preferred by learners who want to get access to more learning modules. Out of six modules only three can be accessed for free.

Memrise for iOS

Memrise for Android

3. Learn Italian Words Free

App for Learning Italian WordsThe name of this app pretty much describes its main purpose. Its is aimed at teaching users Italian vocabulary. After downloading and installing this app, you will select your current Italian level. Also you will provide the number of minutes you are planning spend using the app daily. Each lesson in this app will teach you approximately 15 new Italian words. They cover topics such as travel and business or they can be useful in general everyday conversations. After completing a lesson you will be able to test your knowledge in various workouts.

One unique feature of Learn Italian Words Free app is that it has a separate section for learning informal Italian words (slang). Learning some Italian slang can definitely come in handy for communicating with native speakers. So if you are living or traveling to Italy, this section of the app can be very useful.

For Android.

4. Busuu

Bussu App for ItalianLike most Italian learning apps, Busuu includes various short lessons. They cover various topics for different level students. Beginner lessons cover topics like food, family and free time. Once lessons advances, you can expect learn vocabulary related to politics, economics, life and etc. This learning app is quite well-structured. In your dashboard you can always see what activities you already completed, whats next and etc.

One quite unique feature of Busuu is that it gives possibility to interact with Italian speakers. By using this app, users can write something in Italian and later on it is being corrected by a native speaker. Additionally you can communicate directly with other Italian pen pals around the world. Busuu is used by many users, hence it doesn’t take long for this social feature to work. Of course, in order for this feature to work, you will have to give feedback on someone else speaking or writing (in your native language).

With Busuu app you can select both free and paid memberships. With free account you will get access only to one language and its lessons. Hence learners who are planning to learn more languages, will need to upgrade their membership. Some additional features of Premium account are extra quizzes and exercises on Italian grammar. Also you will have possibility to download lessons and use them later for studying offline.

Busuu for iOS

Busuu for Android

5. Italki

Italki App

Italki is completely different learning app when compared to others reviewed in this article. This app gives users possibility to practice their Italian speaking skills. This is done by booking live conversations with native speakers or tutors. The list of potential language partners or teachers is quite huge. Hence you will be able to book lessons at a time convenient for you.

There is no set price for using Italki for learning Italian. Community features and finding exchange partner is free in this app. You can ask others to correct your Italian writing or simply get answers to your questions.

Learners who need more professional help, can select professional teachers as well. Each teacher has their own schedule and prices. You can expect to pay between 5 – 25 USD per hour. There are reviews of each teacher provided by users of Italki to make selection easier for you. With so many choices for teachers, you will definitely be able to find a tutor suitable for your type of learning and budget.

Italki for iOS

Italki for Android

6. Mondly

Mondly Learning AppThe main purpose of Mondly app is to teach users Italian phrases and words. It does that through interactive activities like graphics and games. Mondly can be adapted for most Italian learners, because you can select what vocabulary topics to learn and activities to do.

Some features in Mondly app are useful for boosting motivation to study Italian. As you will be using the app, you could follow your learning progress easily. Also activities in Mondly are based on points system. Hence you will be motivated to collect more and compete with other Italian learners using this app.

One great benefit for iOS users is that it is possible to use Mondly not only on their phone or iPad, but also on iWatch. Hence users can have even more flexibility to study.

It wouldn’t be fair to categorize Mondly app as free. It is true that you can install this app for free.  Nevertheless it gives access to studying content only for 7 trial days. Once the trial is over, you will need to pay for this in order to continue using it. It is usually the case with most apps, but with Mondly  free content is especially limited.

Mondly for iOS

Mondly for Android

With so many choices for apps you might be wondering which one or how many to choose for Italian learning. There is no simple answer to this. As they are all free to install, the advice is quite simple. Try to get as many as possible or as many your phone can handle. After trying and seeing what works for you and what’s not, add them to your learning routine. Maybe it will be even worthwhile to consider paid memberships for some of them.

How to learn Italian Language Faster

10 Tips to Learn Italian Fast.

Learning any language takes time and effort and Italian is no exception. But, if you genuinely want to learn Italian, then the rewards from accomplishing your goal will be well worth it. Here are some tips to help you in Learning the Italian Language Faster.

1. Select The Right Italian Studying Resources.

Before jumping into various possible methods of studying Italian, first think how you learn best. If you’re a visual learner, then you need to find a method that uses visual aids to help you remember. If you’re better at listening, then find a method that uses audible studying material.

2. Concentrate On The Most Important Things For You.

Learning isn’t about being perfect. Hence don’t try to learn everything and things that are useless for you. You should begin with important things such as common Italian phrases. Alternatively, you can start with topics or areas of Italian language that seem to be the most interesting for you.

Learning things that matter to you will boost your enthusiasm and motivation. Hence you will be able to improve your new language skills more effectively and quicker.

3. Learn Essential Vocabulary.

Learn Essential Italian VocabularyMany people who want to start learning foreign languages think that they will need to learn huge lists of words. This can be quite discouraging thought and for some people it can result in lack of wish to begin studying at all.

While its true that there is no way around learning Italian vocabulary, you actually need to know only a few hundred to communicate effectively. It is quite common for languages to use common words. Hence by learning essential Italian vocabulary first, you will be able to comprehend and speak in your target language significantly faster. The numbers varies slightly for separate languages; however in most cases it is sufficient to know 250 words to comprehend half of written material.

4. Learn Cognates.

Even though English and Italian belong to different language branches, they still share a lot of similarities. In fact it is estimated that almost 30% origin of English words comes from French language (Romance language as well as Italian). Hence English speakers can identify many Italian words that are either spelled the same or sound similar.

Learning these cognates first can greatly expand your Italian vocabulary. And the best part is that you will be able to recall them easier due to similarities. For instance English words that end with -al- usually have -ale- ending in Italian (Final – Finale, Natural – Naturale and etc.).

5. Set Realistic Learning Goals.

Learning GoalsOne of our biggest mistakes when learning anything new is lack of concrete goals. People tend to set goals that are not very specific (for example: I will learn Italian in 2 or 3 years and etc.). Hence there is less accountability to yourself and you can postpone studying for tomorrow, next week or even next month.

Instead of this, it is always a better idea to set smaller and more concrete goals. For instance your goal could be I will learn 50 new Italian words this week and etc. This way your goals will be smarter and will require you to take action beginning today and each day.

6. Begin With The Most Simple Grammar.

On overall Italian language has quite difficult grammar. Hence to learn it properly it is necessary to dedicate a lot of time and effort. If you want to speed up your learning, it is a good idea to start with the most basic grammar concepts. This way you will be more motivated and prepared for more complex grammar parts later. Learning difficult parts of grammar in the beginning is risky as you can encounter problems and loose your overall motivation for studying.

Most Italian studying resources recommend starting with Indicative Mood. It can be used with the past simple, the present tense and also future simple tenses. When it comes to pronouns it is best to begin with direct and indirect pronouns. And for prepositions, it is a good idea to avoid the ones that are used with definite articles. Learning only simple prepositions will be enough in most cases to carry simple conversation with Italian speaker.

7. Read As Much As You Can.

When beginning learning a new language, you need to start with simple stuff. One perfect solution is to find children’s books written in Italian. Because you are still a child when it comes to speaking your new language, these books will help you develop in small steps. As your skills grow, move on to newspapers or magazines. This also has an added benefit of keeping you up to date on current affairs, and it gives you a better understanding of the culture.

There are hundreds of interesting Italian websites and blogs as well. Look for some sites that are related to your interests and start reading them. It’s one of the best ways to improve your Italian vocabulary. You can improve even your reading and writing skills as you can leave comments in most blogs.

8. Try to Listen to Italian as Much as Possible.

Watch Italian MoviesIn the age of technology, it isn’t that difficult to find an audio in Italian. You can improve your Italian comprehension skills by listening to the radio or songs with Italian subtitles. There are plenty of free options for available that on sites like YouTube. You can improve your Italian pronunciation by repeating words in them. With a help of a dictionary you can also learn the meaning of each word so the song would become more meaningful to you.

Watching movies is another great way to get your ears used to the Italian language. You can improve your listening skills, learn something about the culture and learn new words and useful phrases. You can find many ideas for Italian movies by searching sites like IMBD and YouTube. A few good examples could be The Unknown Women, I’m Not Scared, La Nostra Vita, Malena and many more. By using YouTube site you can find videos like The Smurfs, Rocky and others that were dubbed in Italian. Also, many movies produced in Italy have the original Italian tracks on the DVD. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one possible example.

9. Travel to Italy or Make Italian Friends.

The best way to learn how to speak in a new language quickly is to interact with native speakers. You will be able to hear how Italian is spoken with a proper accent, which can’t be replicated by any book. That’s why you should travel to Italy or make Italian friends (and speak with them online or face to face).

If that’s not an option, you can also try finding a language partner to practice your Italian skills. There are websites and apps available that can help you find learning partners. Studying this way is a win-win situation for both parts: help someone learn English (or something else) in exchange for Italian.

Speaking Italian out load is crucial part of learning this language. You need to do that daily, because it can help to boost your confidence. In case you don’t have a friend or partner to communicate with, at least practice speaking skills out load. With sufficient practice your conversational ability will increase over time. Hence you will be able to speak with other Italian speakers confidently.

10. Learn Through Different Learning Tools.

Many beginner learners tend to register for Italian classes or hire a professional tutor. If you have a budget for this, no one can argue that it’s a bad choice. However if you want to learn Italian faster, its always a good idea to implement different learning tools in your studying schedule. In addition to your main studying activity, find supplementing online course, mobile apps, flashcards or books. So whenever you have a spare minute, you can use it to learn something new. With so many options for studying, you can make your learning fun, dynamic and effective.

Keep in mind that if you want to learn Italian quickly, you must find a time to practice daily. Setting aside an hour or two daily is crucial for your success! Good luck and have fun in the process!