What does it take to succeed in this dive?
Like studying any foreign language, to succeed with Italian, you will need to spend a lot of time reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These four skills together will help you to master Italian.
The good news is that Italian is arguably one of the easier languages to learn, because the pronunciation is simple and straightforward. This makes reading and writing easier, but also speaking and listening. Italian is perhaps the best first foreign language to learn because of its straightforward nature.
However, like all romance languages, there is gender: some words are masculine; some are feminine. You must learn the gender with each word you learn, or you're setting yourself up for disaster.
For those who really wish to master the language, you should make the commitment to make the pursuit of Italian a lifelong hobby. Every day, more and more people are learning Italian, so it will be time well spent.
You will have to find good study materials, good teachers, and good practice partners. Most importantly, you will have to find the discipline to study and practice and improve regularly. If you don't study regularly, you won't make much progress, or worse, you'll make lots of progress and then forget what you've learned!
The secret to fluency (since we know you want to know) is quite simple: master reading, master writing, master speaking, master listening, improve your pronunciation, and improve your vocabulary. The issue is that most people don't actually do any of these tasks well.
You see, most people only focus on one or two of these skills, or they focus on all six, but at a very cursory level. If you wish to become fluent, however, you need to focus on all six, all the time, and spend enough time with each so that you see regular progress.
Bottom line, if you want to become fluent, do this:
- Read 20 minutes a day in Italian, and from varying sources
- Listen to Italian TV and radio every day
- Write a new essay or short story every week and get it corrected
- Speak weekly with others, and ideally those who can correct your mistakes
- Make sure your pronunciation is as spot on as can be
- Improve your vocabulary constantly