Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

4 Interesting Ways to Practise Your Italian in Italy

Posted on March 17th, 2014by Melanie
In Italian, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

Practising what you’ve learned during your language lessons doesn’t need to be mundane or learned by rote. So when you’re visiting the exciting country of Italy, there are numerous ways you can test your language skills. Here are four suggestions to help you get started:

1.       Count and Climb the Spanish Steps   

untitled (2)While you’re out and about sightseeing, what better time to practise your Italian language skills? Numbers are always useful to know so, if you happen to be visiting Rome, how about visiting the Spanish Steps…all 136 of them, and count them on the climb upwards. The Spanish Steps (Scalinata) is the widest staircase in Europe and you can climb it from the base in Piazza di Spagna to reach the top at Piazza Trinita dei Monti where the impressive Trinita dei Monti church stands. Now you’ve used up all those calories, it’s time to reward yourself with some delicious food…!

2.       Eat Your Way Through An Authentic Italian Cookery Class

images0N1E0182You could practise saying fruit and vegetables in Italian by going to a local market, or you could learn meals by ordering them at a restaurant. But why not make things a bit more interesting? There are many cookery classes throughout Italy where you can learn how to cook authentic Italian dishes. Known for its pizza and pasta dishes, why not try a basic class in cooking some tasty pizza or pasta recipes for a more unusual and hands-on way to get genuine practice at speaking Italian.

3.       Enjoy an Italian Ice Cream

untitledYou’ve cooked some dinner, now have some dessert with some of Italy’s infamous gelato. You can practise saying the flavours as well as the multitude of colours that these delicious ice creams are available in. Most gelaterias will let you sample a couple of flavours then it’s decisions, decisions…cup (coppa) or cone (cono) and how many scoops? But that’s not all as then you’ll be asked “Panna?” which is freshly whipped cream on the top. So, when the tough decisions have been made (in Italian!) you can enjoy your hard earned ice cream!

4.       Do Some Window Shopping

ValentinowhitedressesAs well as their passion for food, Italians have a love of fashion. As you wander around the beautiful country you’ll definitely notice the Italians’ sharp style and fashionable flair. While you’re admiring their chic look, describe the different clothing you see, from the basic types of clothing (pantaloni, gonna, camicia) to their colours, lengths and materials. You could always treat yourself to some Italian finery while you’re at it!

 

There are so many things to see and do in Italy. What other interesting ways can you think of to practise your Italian speaking skills?

Celebrities Converse in Foreign Languages (Part Two)

Posted on October 27th, 2013by Melanie
In French, German, Italian | Leave a Comment »

One DirectionAthletes are well known for speaking foreign languages as it helps them when travelling for their sport, and many are actually able to conduct interviews in their second language. Top ranking tennis player, Novak Djokovic, learned German as his third language after practising there and is continuously learning more languages so that he can understand what’s going on around him when he travels, and also to satisfy his love of linguistics. As well as his native French, Arsène Wenger, the manager of Arsenal football club, can speak an incredible five languages including English, German, Italian, Spanish and some Japanese. He strongly believes in the benefits that languages can have in people’s careers and is quick to promote language learning.

A great role model for younger people is the group One Direction who have taken it upon themselves to learn the 20 most common words of the language of each of the countries they’re due to visit whilst on tour. The group made this decision after a trip to Japan which was a huge culture shock for them and became embarrassing during a press conference due to the language barrier; they realized that they needed to give more to their fans than just their musical talents by making an extra effort to communicate with them in their own languages.

Having role models such as actors, musicians and sportspeople to look up to is a great way to be inspired to learn a new language, and they are keen to promote the benefits that speaking another language has had for them. Could you be encouraged by their examples to learn a new language?

Reserving Trips to Remember

Posted on September 12th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Italian, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Reservations agent 3As a reservations agent, Julie was used to speaking to people every day from different nationalities, from customers to hotels, to travel companies and tour operators. She had worked for an English-run company in Italy which operated a holiday club, offering discounted holidays and special offers to their customers. As the company wasn´t tied to specific travel agencies or resorts, this meant that Julie was able to act independently as a reservations agent and source the best travel deals that she could in an unbiased manner for her clients. She enjoyed putting together great travel packages for her customers that they wouldn´t be able to find anywhere else, especially at such a good price. She handled bookings for both Italian and English speaking clients which involved regular telephone calls and emails in both languages.

Due to the economy, however, the Italian office had closed down and Julie had relocated to the UK office. Back in the UK, almost seamlessly it seemed, she was able to continue dealing with the same customers as before, with no difference other than her own location. No longer living in Italy, Julie didn’t want to become unfamiliar with the language seeing as she wasn’t hearing it and speaking it fully on a daily basis, so invested in some local language courses to keep things fresh in her mind. She signed up for some advanced classes as she was fairly fluent but still wanted to be pushed as far as she could be.

With her Italian in check and her customers happy, Julie set about finding unbeatable travel deals that would provide the best holidays her clients could hope for!

 

Let the Music Begin!

Posted on August 11th, 2013by Melanie
In Events, Italian, Words | Leave a Comment »

Concert 2Martin was ready to pack up and set off again. As part of a band crew, he travelled a lot, staying away from home for long periods of time and touring to different destinations; and he loved it!

Martin had been working in this profession for twenty years and never tired of it. Travelling with different bands and crews made each job exciting and challenging. The hours were long and he was used to living out of a suitcase but the buzz of the concerts at the end of each night which reflected on all of the crew´s hard work was fantastic.

Travelling to different locations was the added bonus and, between sets, he would explore each city with other crew members and take in the atmosphere and sights around him. He´d travelled on tour to cities like Milan, Berlin, Seville, Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague, and many more besides. Each tour took his job to new cities and he looked forward to whenever he´d get a chance to get to know the areas.

Of all the places he´d travelled to, his favourite country was Italy. Each city was so different with diverse landscapes and a fascinating culture. The locals were always friendly and welcoming, and he had a particular fondness for Italian food! His freelance work usually took him on European tours so, more often than not, he´d be pretty sure to end up in an Italian city at some point. He´d picked up lots of words and phrases on the way and had even taken up Italian language lessons back home. Although his work schedule was very irregular, his language course was flexible enough to cater for this and he was able to continue his studies from where he had left off the previous time without having to skip chunks of lessons.

For now, it was back to work and the hard graft of the behind the scenes crew. Soon the stage would be set, the lights would go up and the crowd would go wild!

It´s All About Italia!

Posted on June 30th, 2013by Melanie
In Culture, Italian, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

ItaliaWhat springs to mind when you think of Italy? Their delicious handmade pizzas of funghi, quattro stagioni and capricciosa. The fresh pasta dishes such as cannelloni, spaghetti carbonara, gnocchi and ravioli. Or perhaps it´s their famous ice cream, gelato.

Their beautiful artwork by inspired artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo is breathtaking. The magnificent ancient architectural sites such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Baths of Diocletian, the Trevi Fountain and the Leaning Tower of Pisa can´t fail to impress.

The warm climate certainly appeals as does the warmth and passion of the Italians themselves. Then there´s the romance as told in tales of old such as Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you´re struck with their flare for fashion from famous fashion designers and labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Fendi and Versace, or crave a luxury Italian sports car such as a Ferrari, a Maserati or a Bugatti.

With so many positive attributes, it´s hard not to fall in love with Italy and everything about it. Why not take it a step further and start having Italian lessons in London or a city near you. While you´re dreaming about all of the places you´re going to see and about everything you´re going to do when you get the chance to go to Italy, you can hone your Italian language skills and get ready to impress the locals with your linguistic capabilities! Buona fortuna!

Can´t Learn, Won´t Learn!

Posted on June 16th, 2013by Melanie
In Education, Italian, Research | Leave a Comment »

Can´t learnEveryone can learn a new language! That´s not just an optimistic line aimed at someone later on in life who is groaning at the thought of having to start to learn a language, or someone  who never did well in school and thinks they don´t have the ability to learn. According to research, it has been scientifically proven that, with the correct learning techniques, a new language can be learned by anyone at any time.

How? When someone has been out of an educational environment for a long time or doesn´t have a knack for learning languages, this may seem very unlikely. It´s simple! They just need to listen to a word 160 times over a period of 14 minutes according to neuroscientists. The brain may struggle to recognise the new word being introduced initially but, after this amount of exposure to the word, it suddenly recognises the word as indistinguishable from those they are already familiar with. Findings also showed that it wasn´t necessary for any active participation of the volunteers in the study to try to learn the language; there were no memory tests or repetition exercises, just listening and their brains did the rest of the hard work.

But let´s face it, with such busy lives, who has either the time or inclination to learn new words 160 times, whatever the time period they can be learned over? The study has proven that everyone has the ability to learn a new language, no matter what their age or learning capabilities but, in real terms, the findings aren´t really feasible or practical. The interesting part of the study is that no active participation was needed, just to listen. This is already a teaching method used widely nowadays, where teachers are doing away with the traditional schooling methods of using books and writing tasks, and are concentrating on speaking the language with the onus on the pupils to listen and tune into the new words without questioning the structure and meaning as they would normally.

To relax and enjoy the lessons is also said to enhance the learning process and helps to increase the level at which the new language is absorbed. To make something a difficult task makes it a chore and can act as a hindrance as the brain can “switch off” and therefore not take in as much information. Whereas, if a subject is enjoyable and is practised in a relaxed atmosphere, the brain is more “switched on” and receptive to taking in new information.

So if you´re ready to learn a foreign language and eager to do so without the tediousness often associated with lessons, then it´s time to explore the more modern teaching methods available to you. Using innovative training techniques and by combining language learning with a fun approach, you can easily be at a conversational level in your chosen language in no time at all.  If you´d like to speak a Romance language, for example, then immerse yourself in some lively Italian lessons in London for fast results in an entertaining way!

Immersing into the Italian Lifestyle

Posted on June 1st, 2013by Melanie
In Education, Italian, Speech | Leave a Comment »

ItalyLouise was desperate to learn Italian. She´d been on family holidays to Italy numerous times and loved it; she loved the country, the people, the sunny climate, the food, everything about it, and especially the melodic language. But for Louise, learning a foreign language wasn´t as easy a task as it might seem. She suffered from a learning disorder and, unfortunately, learning foreign languages was considered an unachievable task by her teachers. She was used to the stigma; she´d always been teased about seeming to be slower than her classmates to grasp things but was still determined to learn a second language one day, despite her teachers´ views. They believed that, due to the nature of learning disorders which directly affect language capabilities, the acquisition of a new language when she often struggled with her own was an impossible undertaking which would just cause Louise undue stress and disappointment.

Luckily, Louise´s parents disagreed with this and backed her enthusiasm and determination to learn a foreign language. They´d conducted a considerable amount of research on the subject and had contacted organizations related to both learning disorders and languages. They discovered that it was often the traditional teaching methods that actually inhibited the learning of languages rather than a student´s ability to learn. This is because the reading and writing skills typical of a normal classroom lesson often presented problems whereas learning conversational techniques could be extremely beneficial and produce excellent results. One of the organizations contacted Louise´s parents to advise them of an immersion programme which placed students directly into family homes abroad. This technique had produced excellent results and the experience meant that students learned real life conversational skills as opposed to basic sentences that were the norm usually taught in schools. This was a dream come true for Louise! Not only did she get to live in Italy for a while, but she would be learning the language from a genuine Italian family and living the Italian lifestyle she´d hankered after.

That was then. Now, Louise, who blossomed in Italy under the tutelage of the hospitable family, can speak a great deal of Italian and her confidence has increased no end. The lessons she learned in Italy of how to control her speech and pronunciation have helped her to overcome problems she has when speaking her own language. Not wishing to lose her newly acquired language capabilities, Louise is keen to improve her speech by taking conversational Italian classes in Newcastle. She is coming along in leaps and bounds, much to the admiration of her very proud parents!

Striking Up a Conversation in Sorrento!

Posted on May 4th, 2013by Melanie
In Italian, Speech | Leave a Comment »

As a child, Sarah had many penfriends from all over the world: New Zealand, Japan, Turkey, Ethiopia, France, America, Germany, Sweden and more. She wrote and received colourful letters every week and often got sent photos, stickers and little tokens from her penfriends to resemble their countries. One of her penfriends was an Italian boy, Domenico, and Sarah actually got a chance to meet him on a family holiday to Sorrento in Naples when she was 13.

Domenico arrived at her hotel with his entire family in tow, and both families sat down to meet and greet each other. The hotel manager very kindly offered to spend some time with them translating between the families. As Sarah and Domenico already communicated each week by writing in English, this was the easiest option for them, as well as making basic attempts at miming things to try to get their messages across to each other. Considering they had been penfriends for a couple of years, they were both extremely shy at having actually met each other and Sarah felt quite nervous and silly in her attempts at trying to ‘speak’ to Domenico. After a little while, Domenico´s family left with the promise of returning shortly. And sure enough, not long afterwards, they returned with the lovely gesture of a gift from their family to Sarah´s family. It was a beautiful mosaic plate with a brightly coloured peacock on a golden background that glistened in the sunlight. Touched at such a thoughtful gesture, Sarah´s family hugged Domenico´s and thanked them for such an exquisite gift. And that was the last time Sarah saw Domenico…until now.

25 years later, she was going back to Naples and had arranged to meet up with Domenico again. Never having forgotten her embarrassment at not being able to speak to him properly the last time they met, she had enrolled in some fun conversational Italian classes based in Newcastle where she quickly picked up the basics she needed to be able to have a general chat with Domenico. Competitively priced and at a venue to suit her, Sarah was very pleased with these bargain language classes that allowed her to be taught by an Italian speaking teacher. In a very short time, she felt confident that she would be able to hold her own in a one-to-one conversation with Domenico.

With her flight ticket in her hand, Sarah grabbed her passport and suitcase as the cab pulled up outside her home and excitedly closed the door behind her. In just a few hours, she´d be back in the sunshine meeting her lifelong friend, only this time she planned to surprise him by showing off her newly acquired speaking skills. This was going to be the best Italian experience she could ever imagine!

English switch for Italian university

Posted on May 16th, 2012by Michelle
In Education, English, Italian | Leave a Comment »

An Italian university has announced it will teach and assess its degree courses in English rather than Italian.

The change will be made from 2014 at the Politecnico di Milano, one of Italy’s leading universities. The university, based in Milan, believes that it will be unable to compete on a global scale if it continues to use the Italian language.

“We strongly believe our classes should be international classes – and the only way to have international classes is to use the English language,” says the university’s rector, Giovanni Azzone.

“Universities are in a more competitive world, if you want to stay with the other global universities – you have no other choice,” says Professor Azzone. (Source: BBC News)

The professor believes other Italian universities will follow suit, as English has become the language of higher education and international business.

What do you think? Should universities teach in their country’s language, or switch to English? What will this change mean for the Italian language?

Google Goggles helps you translate

Posted on May 20th, 2010by Michelle
In English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Technology, Translation | Leave a Comment »

goggles_translationA cool new application from Google will soon be able to help you translate from written words.

Google Goggles users can point their phone at a word or phrase they wish to have translated, and then fine-tune their onscreen selection to a smaller area. Using the phone’s camera, the application will recognise the language and give you an option to translate it. This makes the application perfect for globetrotters – whether you need a menu or sign translated, you can do so without the hassle of searching through a guide book or dictionary.

The application can only translate languages based on the Latin alphabet such as English, French, Italian, German and Spanish at the moment, but once the text is captured it can be quickly translated to other languages. Google are apparently confident that other languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Hindi will soon be added to the app.

Whilst the app is free, you’ll need a mobile device running Android 1.6 or higher. I’ll definitely be giving this a try on my trip to Italy next month!