Author: Inês Carvalho
I started learning Italian two years ago (a short course of about 20 hours), but I had never been really able to say more than a couple of sentences. However, it was my New Year’s decision to reach B1 level in Italian in 2017, and at the beginning of April I decided to spend Easter in Rome. So about ten days before travelling, I started to learn Italian. First, I used a YouTube channel that I found really useful (One World Italiano) and I must have carefully watched about 15 lessons before going to Italy. I took some notes, but not too many.
When I got back, I decided that I would return to Italy for an extended period in August, and I continued watching videos on YouTube. This time I found Alberto from Learn Italian with Italiano Automatico. He emanates a very positive vibe, but at first I wasn’t quite buying into his theory that you can learn a language practically only by listening to the same text repeatedly, without studying any grammar. I had serious doubts about it, but I liked his videos, so I kept on watching and listening to them. I was so tired at the time, that I was too lazy for studying grammar at the end of a working day, but it was quite pleasant to listen/watch his videos at least 30 minutes every day, while cleaning, eating, or right before going to bed. I didn’t follow Alberto’s advice of listening to the same audio file several times, because I liked his videos so much, that I was curious to watch the next one. He talks about interesting and varied topics and, on top of that, he is a solar, positive and inspiring person. He practically never talks about grammar, but he does explain some typical Italian expressions (“porco cane”, “essere fuori come un balcone” or “oca giuliva” :-D).
At the end of May I found someone who I could practise Italian with (my dear Valentina!), and although I make a lot of mistakes and still have so much to learn, I was impressed that I could actually say a lot in Italian! I think that it’s quite interesting that, to some extent, I could use verb tenses that I had never formally learnt. By listening to Alberto using them naturally in his videos, I was able to develop a feel for them.
In the meanwhile, I’ve started to learn grammar, although I don’t do any grammar exercises. I go to the website One World Italiano, and they have a lot of information on grammar. I copy the rules to a notebook, and sometimes I have a look at them, especially when I feel that I’m failing to correctly use a certain structure. Besides, now that I’m aware of grammar, I pay so much more attention to linguistic structures when someone is speaking Italian! It has improved the learning process for me.
To conclude, I had never thought that simply listening could have such an impact on fluency. Still, I think that learning some grammar can be quite useful for a lot of people. I think that a good amount of listening coupled with some grammar-awareness may be the ideal approach for me.
Here is my list of resources: (not so many!)
– Alberto Italiano Automatico (he also has a podcast!)
– ItalyGuides.it on YouTube (since I’ll be travelling in Italy in the summer, I get to know more about what I’ll be visiting while improving my Italian at the same time. I found it a couple of hours ago, so I’m not sure how good the channel is linguisic purposes)
– A nice Italian with whom I can practise the language on a weekly basis (Valentinaaaa <3).