Learning Italian in lockdown: How to boost your language skills during Covid-19
Is language learning through immersion still possible during a pandemic? Despite social distancing and reduced opportunities to practise ‘la bella lingua’, there are still ways to take your Italian to the next level.
Published: 5 February 2021 13:16 CET
Learning Italian may be especially hard during Covid.19. But there there are still immersive ways to practice. Photo: AFP
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My wife and I are highly considering retirement in Italy. I’ve made more than a dozen trips to various regions over the years for stays of between 2-6 weeks. I finally decided to knuckle down and try to learn the language. I’ve tried several apps – like Duolingo and even started an in person class well before the pandemic. None helped. I was hopelessly lost pretty quickly. I recently started using Pimsleur Premium and its going much better. There are 150 lessons in total. I’m on #8. The app says you should be able to do each session in 1 day for 30 minutes. I find myself having to do each lesson in 15 minute increments and then a full review one more time – so about 2 lessons a week. But so far, so good. I find the vocab really sticking in my head now and my hesitation for coming up with the appropriate words is better than I would have expected. I still need to train my ear more and learn to speak at a normal pace, but I think those will come in time. My goal is to keep this up for the 5.5 years we have remaining until I can retire – with hopefully some trips in between when we are past COVID.
I recommend https://academy.italymadeeasy.com/
I’ve been a student for a couple of years after trying to learn Italian for many years previously. It’s the best course I’ve come across and if you can’t afford to pay for a full course, they also produce a lot of free content.
I’m really happy with Italki. If you go to their site there are dozens of short videos of the teachers introducing themselves. Choose one that seems nice, and do a trial short conversation. I was super nervous at first because conversation is my greatest weakness and my vocabulary has big gaps. But I’m finding my weekly Skype chats with my teacher super helpful, inspiring and confidence building. I love her gentle corrections and her helpfulness in finding the words I need. She types the words she’s introduced in the chat box in Skype so I can review them later. I’m glad I didn’t wait. Another useful online resource is reverso.net. It’s like an online dictionary, but it is based on artificial intelligence, and you can search for phrases, not just words. So for example, if you type in “se è il caso” you’ll see lots of examples of how that phrase has been translated in various contexts. Sometimes the artificial intelligence system gets it wrong and the translations it chooses are off, but I find the benefits of seeing a myriad of examples of usage outweigh this.