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How to start learning Italian (video)

| 21 comments | Category: learning languages, particular languages, video

Italian: a funny 3-minute introduction


(video in English)


I’d like to introduce you all to my big hobby after languages; making videos. I combined the two on my multilingual site with several videos about my travels and other subjects, in 7 languages. This has really helped me to practise my languages as I travel. But instead of just making the videos about different random topics in several languages, I am now starting on a long-term project of making videos about languages as I learn them or travel to the country where they are spoken.

Today I will share the first one of these with you! This is a short video (less than 3 minutes long) I made about how to start learning Italian while I was passing through Rome again this year. There’s only so much you can say in 3 minutes, so it’s mostly a light-hearted video that obviously can’t be so detailed and is not to be taken seriously! Most of all, it was a good excuse for me to dress and act silly around Rome! You can watch it embedded through Youtube above in English, or through Dotsub below in Italian with English subtitles. [Note that these may not be viewable in feed readers / for email subscribers, so you might have to click through to my site]. You can also watch it in Esperanto, French, Spanish and Portuguese on Irishpolyglot.com .

Useful links

I will be expanding on particular points relevant to Italian in several posts on this site in future (words similar to English etc.), but for the moment I can definitely share some links with you that may be useful! If you know of others, then please do share them in the comments below. Note that some of these have equivalents in other major languages (Yahoo Answers, Blog search etc.), so these links aren’t necessarily only relevant to Italian learners!!

http://www.wordreference.com Great free online dictionary with an excellent, active and helpful forum for asking for translations of particular terms

http://it.answers.yahoo.com and http://answers.yahoo.com Another forum, the famous Yahoo Answers, but in Italian! If you have intermediate Italian, then ask a question (in Italian) about the language in the Società e Culture –> Lingue section. A huge amount of natives are only too eager to help. This is great for getting extremely quick answers for questions or having small text reviewed, for free. Note that the answerers are non-linguists (and sometimes mostly teenagers) so you should wait until you have several answers to be 100% sure. For beginners in Italian, use the second link for the same site in English and post your question in the Society and Culture –> Languages section. When writing in English, usually the wordreference forum is much better; non-natives would be answering in the English version of the Yahoo Answers site, and once again there are a lot of teenagers with time to kill there…

http://italian.about.com Interesting blog for beginner to intermediate learners. Includes regularly updated articles and free resources for learning the language.

http://www.transparent.com/italian/ Another blogger with a good chance of doing really well in the Top 100 Language Blogs, with excellent frequent tips about the language with lots of examples.

http://www.marinajonica.org/ A blog entirely in Italian written by an Italian (and good friend of mine) about Montegiordano in the beautiful Calabria region in the south of Italy. Italians blog too, so if you do a search for a topic that interests you (technology, music, etc.), but in Italian, then you can practise by reading modern content written by natives regularly. http://blogsearch.google.it is a good search tool for finding such blogs.

http://www.irishpolyglot.com/it It’s only fair that I should get to promote my own site too! Watch any of my videos in English first, and once you know what it’s about, watch its equivalent in Italian and see how much you can understand. I am far from a perfect speaker, and still have an accent (as you can hear in the Dotsub video embedded above), but I have a native proofread any dialogue before recording so you know that at least what I am saying is correct! As I mentioned in the video, twitter is a good way of practising each day with an Italian status update. Feel free to follow my regularly updated Italian twitter! It is not proofread, so I can’t guarantee that there are no occasional mistakes. ;)

The Internet is full of sites in Italian; anything you can find in English (news, sports, blogs etc.), you can almost certainly find it in Italian!! A quick search on Google will give you a list of radio stations and even some live streaming video that you can watch/listen to. If you feel like sharing a site about learning Italian, or one in Italian, do so in the comments!

I hope you liked my video!! Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments. If you enjoyed it, why not share it with others through Stumbleupon, facebook or twitter by clicking the options below? ;)

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  • http://www.nerdynomad.com/ Kirsty

    Great job on the video, and having it released on Matador is even better. I can’t believe how much the site has exploded since I last checked it. Well, actually I can believe it. Very cool, good work. Keep the great content and videos coming and I think we can all expect some pretty big things in the future.

    Ciao!
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..Wondering About Wanderstruck.com =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      Thanks Kirsty!! Yeah, my feed reader subscribers are steadily rising :) Lots of people are writing to me directly and the site is getting several hundreds of hits a day! Looks like a website idea and summer project that I came up with in a single morning turned out to be a good move :P
      On the other hand, the comments have stopped dead recently. A wee bit confusing; I got 30+ comments on posts when I had less than 100 subscribers :P It’s interesting in this world of blogging!!! As always, your words of wisdom will be appreciated :)
      All the best!

      • http://www.facebook.com/mikaila.watson Mikaila Watson

        Hey! I’m going to Italy in February and am staying the full 90 days I am allowed to…all to learn italian as best I can!! How do you think I can best learn and get pretty fluent in Italian while there? I know the best way to learn a language is to surround yourself with it. This site is awesome! Thank you!!

  • http://www.nerdynomad.com Kirsty

    Great job on the video, and having it released on Matador is even better. I can’t believe how much the site has exploded since I last checked it. Well, actually I can believe it. Very cool, good work. Keep the great content and videos coming and I think we can all expect some pretty big things in the future.

    Ciao!
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..Wondering About Wanderstruck.com =-.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      Thanks Kirsty!! Yeah, my feed reader subscribers are steadily rising :) Lots of people are writing to me directly and the site is getting several hundreds of hits a day! Looks like a website idea and summer project that I came up with in a single morning turned out to be a good move :P
      On the other hand, the comments have stopped dead recently. A wee bit confusing; I got 30+ comments on posts when I had less than 100 subscribers :P It’s interesting in this world of blogging!!! As always, your words of wisdom will be appreciated :)
      All the best!

  • Anna Larson

    You remind me a bit of another guy I read about. He apparently learnt Italian up to the point of being able to hold a conversation in it in about 3 weeks. He can only speak 6 languages though, not 7 like you.

    You used to be able to find something on his website about it, but it’s gone now. In case they put it back up, it used to be viewable at http://www.paulnoblelanguages.com

    Interesting stuff.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ benny

      “Only” 6 languages :P
      Personally, I go for quality rather than just quantity ;) I’ll be talking about this more in other posts.

  • Anna Larson

    You remind me a bit of another guy I read about. He apparently learnt Italian up to the point of being able to hold a conversation in it in about 3 weeks. He can only speak 6 languages though, not 7 like you.

    You used to be able to find something on his website about it, but it’s gone now. In case they put it back up, it used to be viewable at http://www.paulnoblelanguages.com

    Interesting stuff.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com benny

      “Only” 6 languages :P
      Personally, I go for quality rather than just quantity ;) I’ll be talking about this more in other posts.

  • Arianna

    Hey Benny
    I really like your blog and found some of the tips you gave on how to learn languages more quickly very interesting indeed. I speak English, French, and i'm now studying Mandarin and Portuguese. Little steps to become a polyglot!
    However i can't say I entirely appreciated the video you posted here, on learning italian. See, i am Italian and right now i'm in a university in France, in an international campus and students come from all over the world. Well, even being an “élite” school people seem to think of italians as a bunch of funny people that use hands instead of words -.-” It's really FRUSTRATING. In your video, the hand gestures are correct, but you use them way too much!! Isn't part of the language learning process and of travelling, trying to avoid and dismantel cliches as much as possible?
    I know it was probably meant to be ironic and i'm not making a big deal out of it, but i'd really love it if one day i could watch a video on Italy without those silly hand gestures :D
    Bisous
    Arianna

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Hi Arianna!

    You're right that the video is a silly and a regurgitation of certainstereotypes, but the character I was playing was a foreigner trying to be Italian (I don't think Italians go around with English-Italian dictionaries much in Rome) ;)

    However, a lot of things I did in the video are absolutely typical of Italians in my experience, like drinking espressos in one super quick gulp ;) I also didn't shave for a few days, something that seems to be the norm among men in many parts of Italy compared to other places I've lived in. I way overdid the hand gestures, but you have to admit that they are partially true!

    Most Italians I've shown the video to have found it absolutely hilarious to see how ridiculous I look in overdoing it ;) I hardly think that overdoing the hand gestures is as offensive as say if I tried to repeat the Mario brothers image of an Italian. I genuinely think parts of the video are indeed authentic, and I worked hard to present myself as Italian as possible based on my experience living there, but exaggeration is needed for humour.

    This is a theme in other videos I've made; I just made one about Ireland where I'm dressed up like a leprechaun, thus satisfying all the American stereotypes. I don't like stereotypes (and you'll notice that I've just written a post about getting over stereotypes about Parisians), but as long as they aren't offensive and are funny, more people will watch the video and actually pay attention to the message in the voice-over :)

    It's important to remember that the point of the video isn't the silly representation of Italians, but to promote the Italian language and introduce people to it. The video has been up for a very long time and you are the first Italian that has voiced not appreciating it.

    I personally wouldn't care much about what they think of me in an élite school if I were you. Travel is indeed about embracing other cultures and avoiding clichés, but it's also about not taking things too seriously for some of us ;) The video includes a style of humour that has been appreciated by a lot of Italians I've shown it to.

    Frankly, to find a video about Italy without hand gestures, you will have to either use a foreigner who doesn't want to emulate Italians, or use an Italian in a straightjacket ;)

    Biz

  • Arianna

    that was a quick reply!

    again, I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, i just couldn't help it, i had to say i didn't like the whole overdoing hand gestures lol
    but yes, overall it's a good video and you did show things that are typical of Italians, such as the espresso thing ;)

    I do care of what they think of Italians in an élite school, because it shows that even in a place where supposedly cultivated, open-minded people go to, clichès are deeply rooted and hard to eliminate. Most of the times i find them funny; some other times i would like to remind people that my country isn't just about pizza, spaghetti, mafia and mustached men that speak really loudly and move their hands every 2 seconds! (—> like in Family guy when Peter tries to speak italian LOL…)

    Nevertheless, it's a pretty good video and i very much appreciate the fact that you've been learning italian! it's not that easy to find :)
    Good luck with your missions! And i apologize if i sounded too “harsh” in my previous comment
    ciao
    Ari

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    No worries ;) If I ever visit one of those élite schools, I may just make a video making fun of THEM, that will bring their ego down a notch ;)

  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ GlobalButterfly

    Haha, you remind me so much of my very Italian father in this video! Love the sunnies!!! :)

  • Philip Leo Kraus

    Happy Birthday, Bennie! It's been 6 years since Rome and I see you are getting more in love with life every day… it's been good for you, certainly! God bless you, see you out and about.

  • Mily

    buen vídeo:) me gustaría aprender irlandés e italiano y es la primera vez que entro al sitio,me parece muy bueno en verdad…
    thak you for all the translations, love it!

  • Lizzie Hall

    I fully enjoyed your video, as I am, learning Italian! I love your blog, and I’m so excited that I found it.  I am actually going to Italy to live with a host family (Families) this summer for only a Month. Is there much you can achieve in a month instead of three? 

    Grazie!
    -Lizi

  • Cazaca

    hey it’s suprising you are learning italian. I have met many british people who
    are just disgusted with italians though i still cannot understand why so…

    Btw,have you ever thought of make an audio or video italian language course? with your experience and techniques you could do a perfect one :)

    anyway, thanks so much for your articles, videos, etc! i am learning to learn :)

  • Benny Maiorana

    stupendo! l’italiano è una lingua notoriamente difficile da imparare, e parlare senza accento straniero è praticamente impossibile per un anglofono, (una mia amica è qui da trent’anni e lo si sente ancora).
    lo shot di caffè è totalmente azzeccato, e la gestualità a 0:25 sembra la mia quando mi chiedo “dove cazzo è” la persona che sto aspettando!

  • Eric

    Perché non studio italiano? Io sto studiare italiano ora. Mi piace esso. Ti piace italiano? (I wrote this for Italian practice, but I didn’t know what else to put here.)

  • Liam Rowe

    I see you haven’t done a lot in the way of Italian recently, at least not since your meet-ups with Susana, which is a shame as you have an amazing story of how you learnt Italian in the hostel. Spero che tu possa trovare un po ‘di tempo per caricare alcuni video italiani. :)