Italian is a beautiful language to learn and luckily in the heart of Perugia you’ll hear it a lot. Unlike touristy cities like Venice and Florence, where doctors and baristas alike are trained in fluent English, Italian still dominates most day to day conversations in Perugia. Chances are good you’ve encountered a shopkeeper who knows little English or ordered the wrong ticket because you didn’t understand a word on a ticket machine. While you might be to survive Rome without once saying “Ciao”, you’ll at least need some basic phrases to get by in Perugia. Luckily, most schools realize this, and that’s why Umbria offers the opportunity to take Italian as a class or even enroll full time at Universita per Stranieri, where only Italian is taught.
While these classes are useful and have helped students come to understand the finer details behind Italian, such as the grammar, there are some things that can’t be learned in a classroom setting. There is only so much that tenses can help with it comes to real-life Italian. Traditional classes don’t account for things like slang, accents, and dialect. You might be an A+ student in your Italian class, but struggle to order a cappuccino in the morning.
Luckily, there are ways you can improve your Italian outside of class. And I’m not just talking about studying or buying some grammar books. Some of the best ways to practice can be creative and fun. More importantly, they can actually be useful and will help you actually learn.
Tandems are a great way to meet new people from all of the world, munch on some delicious snacks, and more importantly, practice your Italian! Tandems allow people to help others learn their language, well they can practice their target language with a native speaker. It’s a great way to find someone to practice Italian with, plus you’ll (hopefully) be helping them with their English too. Tandems are offered all over Perugia, so finding one isn’t hard. The Umbria Institute offers a couple themselves, and Pintirucchio’s Kitchen offers one every Tuesday night.
Venture away from the fountain and try to find some nooks and crannies in the city. Not only will you likely find some cool streets and cafes, but you’ll also find shopkeepers who only speak Italian. This is a great way to practice your Italian. Hit up some smaller cafes or shops and order in Italian. If the worker seems nice, try striking up a conversation with them. It’s a great way to put your classwork to real use and also learn how the language works in day to day life.
Conversation partners are very similar to Tandems because they focus on a learning exchange where a native speaker helps a person speak their target language and vice versa. The key difference is that a conversation partner is more personal. You don’t switch around with a conversation partner often, and it’s a one on one thing. You usually set it up yourself with the person rather than go to an event. You can set up meetings over coffee or walk together in the city while practicing Italian. It’s a great way to connect with a local in a more personal way.
Sometimes simple basic common words can be easily forgotten. That means throwing together even a basic sentence could be difficult. A good way to help you remember commonly used words is to create flashcards of the 1,000 most common Italian words and study them. It’s a good way to see what words are being used daily, and also helps you forget basic words less.
A good way to make language learning fun is to watch movies and TV in Italian! This is a fun way to practice your Italian and can even teach you some new phrases and words. You can easily change the language of a show or movie on streaming sites like Netflix. For Netflix, just go to audio, and then change it to Italian. Just make sure to also add Italian subs, so it’s easy to follow along with.