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Difficulty Of Learning Italian

Discussion in 'Italian Language' started by Webene, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. Many people have said that French is a lot easier for a native English speaker. Similarly, knowing English helps with other languages such as Latin, due to similar words among other things. How difficult is learning Italian to an English speaker?
    What is your background with learning Italian? I would imagine learning Italian in practice, such as during class, to be completely different to learning by living in Italy and speaking with natives.
  2. I learnt French at school, but I would have found Italian easier than French if I had the choice, more for the pronunciation. Having some knowledge of the words that mean the same for example ' cinq' as five but pronounced differently helps understand the vocabulary, but you end up pronouncing it differently.

    I went to an Italian language school and learnt there, because I knew I needed to live the language and it did help, but it's also having a good vocabulary too when you are learning.
  3. I like to be functional with my language use. Ordering food, getting to places, learning a bit about the business culture, all of the things that I would be able to normally perform. I learned Latin in college, and it was no different in process than when I studied other languages afterwards: read books, watch videos, build vocabulary, re-tell stories, etc.
  4. I had the opportunity to take a class in High School with a native Italian speaker. She held classes in her home, and from the moment we walked through the door, we were only allowed to speak Italian! She taught us songs, showed us Italian films, served authentic food - it was a great experience. So, in a sense I did have a sort of immersive experience.

    When I took Italian, I had already taken 4 semesters of Latin, so I was well prepared for learning root meanings, etc. In general, an understanding of Latin helps with the learning of any of the other Romance languages. However, I will say that I struggled a bit when I took Spanish in college because many of the words sound the same as Italian, simply different spellings. It resulted in quite a few mistakes on written exams!
  5. That sounds like a great experience to learn Italian, or any language, in an immersed environment. How far would you say you progressed in Italian, and how long did you learn for? I have heard from many friends who study languages that it is compulsory to do an exchange program to the country where they speak the language primarily. I guess it is for the same reason as you mentioned, that you are immersed in their culture and you are almost forced to learn and adapt. This would be the only way of learning the subtleties in different languages, and also to expand vocabulary quickly. In terms of Latin, I have heard that it forms the root of many words, thus the study of Latin helps across many languages.
  6. I only learnt French and Latin whilst in school, but they were both surprisingly helpful for when I looked into Italian (because I had went to Italy so many times, but didn't know how to speak Italian bar the stock phrases). I agree that Latin actually forms a part of many Romance languages with all the derivations and stuff.
  7. I spent 6 months in Russia. During those six months I took Russian language lessons at a Russian college. My teacher spoke very little English which I think actually helped. First thing my teacher did was have me learn the Russian alphabet. Once I learned the alphabet I learned how to combine different letters to create the sounds made up by words. While practicing that I learned common words and then common phrases. By common I mean book, table, stool, city, weather, sister, brother.... I think it was a huge advantage learning this while I was in Russia because I was motivated by necessity. I lived there by myself so I didn't have anyone who could translate for me. I also realized that most other languages are harder than english. In english there is 1 way to conjugate a verb, in Russian 4 and in German 6. In many other languages there is masculine, feminine and neuter. So when you order 1 bottle of water you would need to adjust the way you say the word 1. Pretty crazy. I think I would probably have given up if I had not lived there.
  8. As a speaker of French, Italian was easy to learn; speakers of other roman languages can make a similar case. The vocabulary and grammar structures are similar, after all, though you have to adapt to intonation and accents and other details of the language. Italian, as it is, is the language that stayed closest to Latin-- so having knowledge of this would help a great deal. That said, if French would be easy for English speakers, it would more likely be because of the large amount of vocabulary they share. The advantage of Italian is that it is a phonic language, meaning you actually pronounce it the way it is written! Much unlike French *and* English in this way.

    I would also say that a language, no matter which, can become very arduous if you study it wrong. Studying it right, on the opposite side, can bring very positive results; immersion is a way of studying right. You need to love the way you learn something; tedious sessions of learning verb declension will have the potential of turning off many good souls. The best way to practice and to get a feel of the language and of the culture is to get interesting shows, movies, children books or comics, whatever floats your boat. From then on, learning Italian should go easy like a smooth ride down pasta lane.
  9. I've only been trying to learn it for a little while now, I can definitely say that I am not doing very good at all. I struggle a lot with the language but I am really trying to learn, as I not only want to visit there but I have a spouse there as well.
  10. Beg your pardon? You have a spouse already in Italy? Or you just mean you have an Italian spouse?

    Having a partner speaking the target language is often seen as the best way to learn it. For me, it was more or less working -- my partner was so used talking to me in English that it was hard to make the switch! However, listening to him is great practice when he talks to others, and I understand him talking better than any other.
  11. LOL, that is a good question Joie, I also understand that Dez has a spouse there, but that sounds too strange... :D

    Either cases, I think that the main difficulty to learn Italian is to practice it, we need to study real hard, but if we are already in Italy our job is made easier, if we aren't the situation is more complicated, it requires more effort. It's a beautiful language though!
  12. People have different opinions related to this language and perspectives vary from one country to another. You may find people who think that Italian is not worth it due to the number of countries that speak it as the native language (Italy, San Marino and some areas of Switzerland) and people who are in love with the language just because of the accent, sound, culture and many other reasons.Pronunciation is clear with every vowel distinctly enunciated and thesing-song intonation makes sounds easier to identify. Vocabulary is similar to other languages of Latin origin.
  13. I'm English (maybe that's obvious?) And I've had no trouble picking up Spanish, French and German. Not fluently but enough to get by and at least make an effort. With Italian though I've always been a little wary. It seems pretty difficult to !earn. I'm going to try obviously but I think I might struggle a bit? And if I do struggle then I think I would rather not carry on !earning because as with any language, sometimes it can be frowned upon and taken as a bit of an insult of your getting it all wrong! Please, just stop trying and speak English instead! Lol
  14. What a beautiful language. :D But alas, I struggle a bit to learn it. Given, I am a complete beginner with my Italian studies so I can hide behind that excuse for the next week and then no more. I'm also not gifted with languages, can speak only two, but considering that I'm part Italian, heck, I feel I must at least know the language. :)
  15. I think learning any language is a subjective matter for each and every one of us.

    First of all, there are indeed some languages that are similar, and some that are so different!
    I think Italian is very similar to the Spanish language, to the french language and, odly enough, with the Romanian language (odd, because Romania is in a totally different part of Europe!)

    However, seeing how many immigrants are already living in Italy, I can honestly say I can divide them in 2 groups: those who were able to learn Italian and those who were not.
    At first I thought that the people who came here as immigrants and didn't know the language were "new". I assumed they came here just recently and are still trying to learn. But I was wrong! There are many immigrants who have been living in Italy for years and still can't speak Italian. And there are others who were able to easily learn the language in just a few months or so (maybe they learned some Italian in school or they studied it on their own).

    So, all in all, learning a new language is a subjective matter. For some it's easier, for some it's close to impossible :)
  16. I don't believe there is such a thing as impossible in what concerns learning languages, but at the same time I do feel that being in the country has to be a huge advantage. If we are not, at least we should try to speak with natives, that will help a lot.
  17. There are several factors to consider with learning a new language, ability, dedication, commitment, attitude and opportunity are the main ones. Obviously some people are more naturally gifted when it comes to picking up a new language than others, some people will work harder at it and some will have a ''why should i bother attitude.''

    In the UK we have many immigrants who speak English fluently, but we have a small minority that cannot speak a word of English and have no intention of doing so. I used to work with quite a few Italians and i was impressed with how quickly they learned English. Most of them were multi lingual and it seemed that it was Generally French and Spanish that they could also speak. I expect it is true what Rosie says about French and Spanish being very similar to Italian based on that.
  18. I find it quite hard learning Italian and I am an English speaker, my mother said it was the easiest of the languages she ever learned but she attributes that to spending so much time there, I think it is very hard and perseverance is the key but good luck!
  19. I like how you described the attributes of learning with the inclusion of ability, dedication, commitment, attitude and opportunity. We all differ in all of these aspects. I think, sometimes, we forget that just because we have one of these aspects to help us, everyone else does too. Especially when it comes to ability. Take me, for example, I may have the dedication, commitment, attitude, and opportunity but without the ability to grasp the pronunciation a certain syllable, it is going to take me ten times longer.
  20. My grandmother has lived in Romania for as long as I know and I've recently asked her how easy other Latin languages would be for her to learn at her age. She immediately told me how easy would italian be in comparation with other Latin languages, as romanian is quite identical with italian, in form of words and their endings. I currently have no idea if the grammar is the same though...

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