Sometimes things are not what they seem.
Choose a quality Italian school and you’ll know that you’ll get a reasonable quality of teaching in a professional environment.
Check you’re enrolling on the right course for you by comparing the other options the school offers.
Take a look at the websites of a few other decent Italian schools, just to make sure that the one you’ve been recommended is not unreasonably priced.
And obviously, look out for any seasonal offers or discounts.
Decision made, you go do the course.
You pay for a certain number of hours or weeks, your Italian improves a certain (predictable) amount. Right?
You see, people are different.
And some are just better prepared to learn than others…
How to learn MORE Italian
Taking the right approach to your Italian course can ensure a greater return on your investment of time and money.
And it’s not even hard!
(But it does mean starting before you even leave home…)
1. Preparing the way
Assuming you’ve studied Italian before, why not get out your old books and notes and go over what you’ve previously learnt?
Maybe put together a short revision program?
Even simple stuff like going over the numbers and lists of common vocabulary can help ‘re-activate’ your passive knowledge of the language in preparation for your course.
Reading Italian websites, or watching a few DVDs with Italian selected as the language option, will also help your brain tune in to the structures and rythyms of Italian.
You don’t need to do a lot (you probably don’t have time anyway), but doing SOMETHING before you leave home could really give you an edge!
But what if you haven’t, ever, studied Italian before?
Well, maybe you have some knowledge of other, similar languages, like French or Spanish?
In which case, see above. Hopefully, even studying a different language will have the effect of making the foreign language zone of your brain more receptive to the new language.
And when, on your course, you learn an Italian word or grammar point that reminds you of the French or Spanish you know, that will boost your confidence and make Italian easier to remember.
Another good way to prepare is to explore free online resources such as OnlineItalianClub.com, even if you’re a complete beginner.
You’ll be amazed how much confidence you’ll gain from even a minimal amount of pre-course preparation!
2. Learning to learn
In the 1984 classic movie, ‘Karate Kid’, an American teenager is being bullied at school, so tries unsuccessfully to improve his karate skills with the help of a book.
Fortunately, the condominium’s gardener, an elderly Japanese, is willing to help the boy become a champion and rediscover his self-respect.
But first, he has to learn the discipline and patience necessary to benefit from the sensei’s teaching.
(Which also means un-learning much of what he thought he already knew…)
Just as karate involves a lot more than knowing a few basic punches and kicks, so learning Italian (or any foreign language) is more complex than the sequence of tenses and grammar you may have studied at school.
Good teachers will encourage you to speak as much as possible, to develop your listening, reading and writing skills, and to learn new words.
They’ll want to see you using your Italian at every opportunity, because they know that that’s the best way to learn, and to stay motivated.
For this reason, though, they may discourage you from asking too many questions about grammar (especially if it means disrupting the ‘flow’ of the lesson by speaking in English.)
If you want to become a black belt at Italian, you may need to put away your pre-conceived ideas (at least for now).
There’s a natural order of things, so relax about the grammar.
Learn to listen.
Learn to learn.
3. Follow up
Your course is over (sad face.)
But that doesn’t mean you’ll stop improving your Italian.
Hopefully, you’ll stay in touch with the friends you make on your course, so you’ll be able to message or Skype them in Italian.
You might have learnt enough to start following the Italian press, or to read simplified books.
And if your budget permits, you could continue learning by taking an online lesson each week with your favorite teacher!