Ciao tutti! Buon giorno! Benvenuti a Italy Project 365. Ho una domanda per te: parli Italiano?
If you’re not quite sure what I just said above and you’re thinking about moving to Italy, then you might be asking yourself, “Do I need to learn Italian first?”.
Buona domanda (good question). I get this question a lot and surprisingly enough it’s not such a simple question to answer because it depends on so many factors.
There are two sides of the coin for me. I think it’s always a good idea to try to learn as much Italian as you can before coming to live in Italy. If you can get the basic vocbulary and key phrases then you’ll have a lot better chance of navigating Italy on your own and entering Italian conversations when you’re here (which will in turn, provide more learning opporunities).
On the other side of the coin, you’re going to probably learn the bulk of your Italian while you’re here in Italy. That’s half the fun, right? When I first moved to Italy, I had some basic Italian under my belt. I had taken 4 years of Italian as a secondary study at college. While I knew a good portion of the grammar and had the basic vocabulary down, my speaking and listening skills (in essence my conversation skills) were m-e-r-d-a (s-h-i-t).
I remember trying ask a question to an employee at the post office. I was so excited to finally stutter out a poorly pronunced question in Italian, only to be sorely disappointed when he had to ask me to repeat myself 5 times and I had to ask the employee to repeat himself 5 times before we understood the gist of what the other one was saying. How could 4 years of learning Italian at university fail me so miserably? Because they were courses based on grammar, writing, and reading with very little speaking and listening practice. They were interesting and I loved them and I loved my crazy Milano Professor, but they didn’t teach me conversational Italian, at least not enough to speak in Italy.
So when I got to Italy I decided to take an intensive language course and tried to speak as much Italian as I could on the street and with new friends that I had made. Within 1 year, I was speaking rather fluently, a skill that I don’t think I could have acquired studying Italian outside of Italy.
So, let’s recap: “Do I need to learn Italian before moving to Italy?”
Yes, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can but don’t stress. Even if you know little to no Italian before coming, don’t sweat it. You’ll learn a lot on the way.
One thing I should mention is that in order to become fluent in a language, you really need to apply yourself. It won’t happen overnight. It won’t even happen over three or four months. You need two things: time and practice.
While I can’t make time pass any quicker, I can help you with the practice part. Here are a few Italian language resources I highly recommend, some of which I used to help me learn Italian and some of which I still use just to brush up on some grammar (because being an English teacher made me an absolute grammar nerd – I <3 the congiuntivo!)
Some other fun Italian Language Resources:
Movin’ to Italy FAQ is weekly blog series. Every Friday, I post common questions from readers about movin’ to Italy. All answers are based on my personal experiences and knowledge.