Learning Italian can be a struggle sometimes no matter how much passion you feel for it. This is my quick guide on learning Italian by yourself with tips on goal setting that will make you feel like you’re making progress again.
1. Ask yourself “What is my goal?”
First, you need to decide for yourself, what is your goal for your Italian studies? Once you’ve decided, you can better plan what you need to do in order to achieve it.
- Are you wanting to just order off the menu in only Italian?
- Do you want to understand the lyrics to the songs you listen to?
- Do you want to read Dante’s Inferno without a dictionary?
Keep in mind that this goal should be personal to you. Don’t allow other people’s opinions on what is considered a good language goal to influence you. We all have different reasons why we started to learn Italian and why it continues to inspire us.
If you and I were taking a class, the teacher would have goals outlined for the class that would define a student’s success. When you are learning Italian by yourself without this classroom setting, it’s up to you to define your own successful outcome.
This goal doesn’t have to be big. It can be as simple as “I want to understand my favorite song.”
As for me, my initial goal was just to surprise my Italian boyfriend!Don't allow other people's opinions on what is considered a good language goal to influence you. We all have different reasons why we started to learn Italian and why it continues to inspire us.Click To Tweet
2. Do things that move you towards your goal.
This sounds easy, but sometimes it can be challenging.
I’ve heard this common complaint many times: “I’ve been doing Duolingo for months, but I can’t hold a conversation.”
If this sounds like you, it’s okay to study using Duolingo because you like it, but don’t let it limit yourself. If your goal is actually to have amazing conversations with Italians in Italian, then you need to speak in Italian. You need practice speaking in it with native Italians. And maybe instead of taking the 10 minutes to complete a Duolingo lesson, take that time to leave voice messages to your Italian language partners or your Italian tutor and have them correct your pronunciation and grammar. If you’re still not convinced about getting an Italian tutor, I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Perfect Italian Tutor.
If your goal is to increase your knowledge of vocabulary, then you need to build on that with books and other input like Italian movies. What’s great about learning Italian by yourself is that you don’t have to use a boring vocabulary book. You can choose books that you’re interested in–combine it with your favorite hobby and you will continue to be curious about learning.
3. Stop making excuses and commit to learning Italian.
The easiest way to halt progress on a goal is by making excuses. Don’t let your current self ruin your future self’s plans!
“I don’t have enough time.”
How does only five minutes sound? One minute? Listen to a quick Italian podcast while doing the dishes or waiting in traffic. In line at the post office? Do some quick exercises on Memrise or read some news headlines in Italian.
Once you start doing this, it will become an easy routine for you to fill the downtimes of your day with some Italian.
Another way is to make sure you have chances for “accidental” learning. Do you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook? Make sure some of the content that shows on your feed is from Italian Facebook Pages. This way you can have exposure to Italian language even on your down time. I wrote a post about my 5 favorite funny Italian Facebook Pages if you need some recommendations.
Even the excuse “I live in the middle of nowhere, there are no Italians here!” isn’t valid anymore.
With apps like HelloTalk and sites like italki, we can meet Italians without ever leaving our room.
Ask yourself, “How important is learning Italian to me?” Make that commitment to yourself and see it through. You will be so happy you did.Don't have enough time to study Italian? Listen to a quick Italian podcast while doing the dishes or waiting in traffic. Do some quick exercises on Memrise or read some news headlines in Italian while waiting in line.Click To Tweet
4. Set a deadline.
When my boyfriend and I were long distance, we could only meet every few months. This gave me the perfect opportunity to set a deadline for my initial goal of surprising him with my Italian.
Setting deadlines is one of the greatest ways to make sure that we meet our goal.
If you’re a procrastinator like me, it’s easy to ignore a self-set deadline. So I encourage you to set up an “outside” deadline for extra accountability.
Say there’s an Italian language Meetup group in your city that you still haven’t been to because of nerves. Your goal could be to go to your first Meetup three months from now, and be able to introduce yourself confidently using only Italian.
5. Don’t be afraid to change your goal.
Even if you haven’t reached your goal yet, always check in to make sure it’s serving you.
Do you still want to read Dante’s Inferno, or do you really just want to be able to understand your nonna‘s cookbooks?
Be honest with yourself. Is the goal you set actually based on someone else’s opinion of what fluency means?
Switch it up and don’t ever feel guilty about it.
On the other hand, if you’ve successfully reached your initial goal, make a new one!
Because truthfully, we just want to keep moving forward in learning Italian, right?
What is your current goal in learning Italian? Tell me in the comments!
Aein is an American artist, designer and writer who fell in love with an Italian, and then fell in love with Italian language & culture. She is the founder of Italian Self Study, and is passionate about learning Italian. When she’s not studying Italian, she is designing logos and websites her studio Hopemade, designing Italian inspired apparel or taking a break with un po’ di caffè. Buy her a coffee to support Italian Self Study.