5 learning hacks to study Italian smarter
Our time is precious. Learning Italian effectively is not an option. It is just the best way to become fluent in Italian with ease and in a short time.
The following five hacks are the core of my learning/teaching approach as a lifelong learner and teacher in my Italian lessons. Embrace them in your Italian study time, and you will see durable and significant progress learning and speaking Italian as a foreign language.
1. Prioritize your learning
Nobody is too busy; it is just a matter of priorities.
Mastering Italian means covering all areas of Italian language learning, for instance:
- Learning Italian vocabulary
- Practicing Italian conversation
- Practicing Italian listening
- Italian writing
- Italian Grammar
Let’s be honest. You can’t tackle all these areas at once.
Maybe, these days, you want to improve your Italian listening. What do you do if you don’t live in Italy? Most of all, how do you do it effectively?
The best way to improve your Italian listening is by giving priority to it for a certain period, saying two or three months.
It means that you will be focusing just on Italian listening comprehension for that time without spreading yourself too thin on the other learning areas.
I promise you that this approach will work.
Learning a little bit of everything at the same time can be counterproductive and can slow down your overall learning progress.
By focusing on one area, you will see a considerable improvement in that area you want to expand on.
2. Create an Italian immersion at home
Immerse yourself in a network of people who learn Italian or are Italy aficionados. If you have already traveled to Italy, you surely have realized how full-immersion does its job.
When not in Italy, try to recreate the same feeling in your country.
How do you do it?
- Surround yourself with all things Italian: books, food, magazines.
- Join or start an Italian Language Meet-up in your city.
- Become a member of the Italian Institutes of Culture (you can find the in the major cities worldwide)
- Work with a professional Italian teacher online (it has never been easier)
- Find an Italian language exchange partner on the apps Tandem or HelloTalk or through the numerous groups for Italian learners on Facebook.
A language is a social tool. Get out of your comfort zone and play with the Language. You don’t need to travel often to Italy to be immersed in the Language. You can do it at home.
Having an Italian network will be vital to track your progress, motivate you when you feel unmotivated, and support you in your Italy related decisions.
3. Plan spaced repetition sessions
Spaced repetition is a language learning technique that incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent review of previously learned material to exploit the psychological spacing effect.
Do you know that our mind forgets 50 % of what we read after two weeks and 80-90% in one month? Sad but true! Okay, there are also people with a photographic memory, but you are just like me in the vast majority of cases. You forget, and this is normal.
To avoid “forgetting” and make the most out of your learning time, make sure you plan a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly review of what you have been learning.
A few ideas for organizing a spaced-repetition habit
- Plan your review session at weekends or in the middle of the week to review the Italian vocabulary you have been learning.
- If you read a book or watch a movie in Italian, make a summary of it and discuss it with your tutor.
- Use it or lose. Try to incorporate in conversation or in writing the new words or Italian phrases you have learned.
- create the habit of learning Italian
4. Have fun with the language
Make sure you are having fun on the way—the secret to continuing to learn and achieve fluency in Italian to have fun while doing it.
How do you do it?
You have the keys. You know what you like more. Nobody can better tell you that your inner self. The rule of thumb is to merge Italian with your favorite hobbies.
Do you like cooking? Join an Italian cooking course in Italy or your country.
Are you an environmentalist? Follow the instagram feed of an Italian environmentalist and learn Italian through her posts.
The time you spend with Italian must be fun and give you the idea that you are using your precious time effectively.
A language is a tool for you to use to achieve or learn something else.
The final destination is not your Italian proficiency, but what will you use your Italian language skills for.
5. Set an attractive goal
Whenever we kick start a new project, we are usually full of energy and good ideas. However, we all know that soon or less, we begin to slow down.
Why is this happening?
When things get more challenging, we are more likely to quit. It is easier to grasp the basics, but it is less easy to achieve full Italian fluency in the long term.
Is there any recipe against losing motivation when it comes to learning a language? Yes, make sure your goal is brilliant.
Your learning goal must be sexy for you to learn Italian fast and fuel your motivation.
If your goal is to speak in Italian just okay or you don’t have any specific reason for learning it, well, there is a good chance you will lose motivation at some point in your Italian language learning journey. You are not motivated enough to go the extra mile to achieve your goal of speaking Italian like a pro.
If your learning goal is meaningful for you, learning Italian will be way easier.
A typical idea attractive goal can be
- a trip to Italy
- a cooking course in Italy
- earning your Italian dual citizenship (for eligible people, of course!)
- find a job in Italy
- fill up your bookshelves with Italian novels and being able to read them
- you name it!
Be clear about your learning goal. Why do you want to learn Italian? How will your life benefit from it? The bigger, and the clearer, your goal is, the more excited you become to achieve it.
Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish, so get ready to embrace the next steps.