The Italian language is undeniably beautiful and culturally rich. Choosing to learn it is a worthwhile task, especially if you aspire to visit Italy at some point in your life. Before diving into language lessons, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
There Are Two Forms of “You”
Like many European languages, Italian features two distinct forms of “you” for different situations. It is often easiest to remember that there is an informal and a formal option. Using “tu” is appropriate when speaking to peers, friends, relatives, and those who are younger than you. However, the form of “Lei” should be reserved for when you speak to someone who is older than you or who is in a position of power and/or prestige. To be safe, you should speak to strangers using “Lei,” and they may grant you permission to use “tu” instead.
Your Sentences Must Agree
A unique characteristic of the Italian language is the fact that, when constructing a sentence, you will need to ensure all elements agree. What this means is that nouns, verbs, and adjectives must be consistent in gender and number. This task can be challenging for those whose native language does not have any feature like this, and it can be frustrating as you continue to learn. Just remember that the goal in learning a new language is not to achieve perfection, but instead to be understood.
Use “Beh,” Not “Um”
Learning a language can be clumsy work, and it is never expected that you will perfect the nuances of a new language immediately. However, it is recommended that you avoid using the English filler word “um” as you fumble for words or phrases. Instead, you can simply replace it with the Italian equivalent “beh.” Every language has filler words, and integrating them into your language learning process can help you feel more connected to the language even when you are just beginning.
Don’t Go At It Alone
With a large number of language-learning apps and resources available, it can be easy to convince yourself that you don’t need classes or fellow learners to help you master the language. While there is some merit in this belief, one of the most important aspects of learning Italian is the practice of actually speaking and listening to it. Whether you convince a friend to learn with you, enroll in a class, or download an app that connects you to native speakers, it is important that you remember how essential the spoken practice of Italian is to your actual understanding of it.