Conversation blends together speaking and listening skills.
Tuning up your Italian listening skills is as vital as training your pronunciation and speaking.
If you are keen on improving your Italian listening skills, my N.1 advice is PRIORITIZING it for some time.
If you want to make dramatic progress in a specific language area (e.g. conversation, writing or listening) the best way to go is focusing on that one area for a couple of months. You avoid, like this, to spread yourself too thin on different tasks.
So, to take your Italian listening skills to the next level, it would help more devoting a couple of months or more to listen to quality Italian listening resources.
There are many tools out there, but this is a comprehensive list of my favorite tools. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments if you have any.
Top tools to improve your Italian listening skills
You can Improve your Italian listening skills dramatically by active listening. Listening to Italian songs can be an enjoyable pastime, but you don’t internalize the new combinations of words until you listen to it actively.
How can you do it?
Go to www.lyricstraining.com
How does it work?
- You pick an Italian song
- You set your level of Italian (beginner, intermediate or advanced)
- As you watch the music video that you have chosen, the lyrics are presented below
You can listen to the song and read the lyrics. Nice…and boring. The most fun and productive approach is to fill the gaps with the missing words in the lyrics. This is a killer method, that other than helping you to reinforce your Italian grammar and learn new expressions will help you to better your ability to recognize sounds.
Using Italian Podcasts is the best way to get acquainted with the real language and catapult you towards Italian fluency.
How to use a Podcast a learning tool for beginners
If you don’t have yet a level allowing you to catch an entire conversation, I recommend you to use yabla.com or ItalianPod101, where you can find plenty of beginner dialogues with transcription and translation, grammar explanations and the option to slow down the pace of the audio.
An excellent free audio source is also alma.tv where you can find plenty of instructive video about Italian language and culture with subtitles.
How to use a Podcast a learning tool for intermediate students
At this level, I recommend using any free source you can find on YouTube (e.g., Easy Italian) or the Podcast News In Slow Italian or Coffee Break Italian (they have both a paying and free membership), the European News Channel in Italian Euronews.com
How to use a Podcast a learning tool for advanced students
- Browse iTunes and pick a Podcast of a topic of your interest, in Italian.
- Listen to an episode at least three times. You will understand more and more as you listen to the episodes repeatedly.
- Start a Google Doc where you write down new Italian words or combinations of words.
- Talk about the episode with your Italian tutor or coach by using the new words and expressions.
Use Ted talks in Italian (you can find my talks of this genre on YouTube), to get inspired and train your Italian at the same time. The videos often include subtitles.
Intermediate and advanced students may also use the Italian TV at raiplay.com or watch Italian movies (check a comprehensive list of the best Italian movies ever here).
Be consistent. Don’t make a salad of all the possible resources. It will be counterproductive. Choose one or two listening sources that pick your interest. Work with them until you are comfortable listening and understanding that type of source.
The questions of the questions: shall I watch a movie with or without? If I listen passively to a video or podcast and I don’t get most of it, will it work?
I am afraid; it won’t.
The language acquisition theory of the comprehensible input
As a language coach, and even before an avid language learner myself, I support the language acquisition theories of Professor Krashen (University of California).
According to his theory, to acquire a language naturally and not consciously, the input must be comprehensible.
Comprehensible input is that the listener can understand it despite not understanding all the words and structures in it. So, it would help if you listened to something a little above your level. If you don’t have an adequate level, watching any Italian audio source without understanding most of it (say 70%), won’t help you to learn the language naturally.
Instead, it would help your natural language acquisition, listening to an audio source that is a little bit above your level.
This way, you will understand the “missing parts” from the contest.
Your native language
Boosting your listening skills will also depend on your native language. If your native language is Spanish, it means that you might be able to pick many sentences out of Italian TV without even without knowing a lot of the language because the words are transparent (they have the same Latin root). If your native language is German, it might take awhile before you can watch a movie, as most words are entirely different.