How to learn Italian effectively (and, frankly, any language) – Special episode in English

Download this episode

I have made this super long episode in English for everybody who is starting or is planning to start learning Italian (but this applies to practically every language) and for those who have already started but might not be familiar with certain things I talked about in the video. Remember: everybody learns languages in different ways, so whats works for me might not necessarily work for you. I’ve tried, however, to present multiple strategies and points of view when it comes to certain aspects of language learning (like “speaking from day 1” or “speaking when you understand the language well”).

Follow the timestamps below to jumpt to the chapters you’re interested in:

0:00 – Intro
1:20 – Who am I?
3:54 – What distinguishes people who are successful at language learning and people who are not (i.e. people who learn languages in schools and do nothing on their own)? Spoiler: spending all your time learning the grammar
6:45 – Is it true that you can only learn a language if you live in the country where it’s spoken?
7:50 – Starting to learn many languages from scratch at the same time
9:20 – THE PASSIVE PHASE: some key ideas to learn languages effectively. The importance of passive exposure
12:00 – Words vs grammar. What’s more important?
13:33 – How to do the passive phase right: some resources
16:15 – Passive exposure: phase 2 (when you’re already familiar with the basic structures and vocabulary of the language)
17:15 – My favorite ways to read and listen in a foreign language. LingQ and ReadLang
21:35 – Tv shows and films
23:15 – YouTube and podcasts
25:40 – Using music to learn languages
27:00- THE ACTIVE PHASE: should you start speaking from day one?
29:00 – Speak A LOT to get better at speaking
30:20 – Do we need few words to be fluent? The 80/20 rule. Frequents words vs rare words.
31:55 – The ability to paraphrase: using the words you know to explain words you don’t know
32:45 – Should you avoid translating from your own language to the target language? Should you “think” directly in the target language?
34:45 – Don’t be afraid of mistakes!!!
36:25 – How to start speaking: monologues
37:45 – Speaking with other people
38:14 – Language exchanges
39:40 – How to take classes with tutors
40:30 – Language exchange events
41:30 – Talk to foreigners on the street :)
42:27 – The role of writing
43:30 – Is it important to have a good pronunciation
45:35 – Language learning and age
46:26 – Work on your pronunciation right from the start

Resources I’ve mentioned:

My project for learning Italian: http://www.podcastitaliano.com

Polyglots on YouTube with great tips on language learning:
Steve Kauffman – https://www.youtube.com/user/lingosteve
Luca Lampariello – https://www.youtube.com/user/poliglotta80
Vladimir Skultety – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa35MSdCh9gY28WZbBFLnNw
Richard Simcott – https://www.youtube.com/user/Torbyrne
Jan & Lucas – https://www.youtube.com/user/Dacud
Olly Richards – https://www.youtube.com/user/IWTYAL/videos
Benny Lewis – https://www.youtube.com/user/irishpolyglot
Suzanna Zaraisky – https://www.youtube.com/user/CreateYourWorldBooks

Resources to start learning a language:
Assimil, Teach Yourself, Colloquial

La storia di Italo: 16:28 inserisci card

Alberto Arrighini (Italiano automatico)

Easy languages (Italian)

Websites for faster reading

Luca Lampariello on how to use translation to learn foreign languages

My profile on Italki:

Apps for language exchanges:
Tandem, HelloTalk

Pronunciation websites: