Search in Google for ‘how long will it take to learn Italian’ or similar and you’ll likely come across an article I wrote back in 2013 on that topic.
A good chunk of our Italian school’s website traffic each day comes from people asking Google that question.
The article starts by answering a few common questions about learning languages, for example:
- does it help to be young?
- do you need a great teacher or an expensive course?
- is it faster if you live in a country where the language is spoken?
Then it looks at some of the factors that could speed up your progress, and warns of things that might slow you down.
Finally, the article shows you how to estimate the time it will take YOU to reach your desired level in Italian.
If you’d like to take a look, here’s the link you need: How long will it take me to learn Italian?
And, if you find that interesting, there are links to other articles on learning Italian here.
Or you could find out more about our Italian school…
Derek Corner says
Hi Daniel. A very interesting article, thank you. Like many of your subscribers language learning means different things to different people. I am probably similar to many of your students or readers, & by that I mean I have studied Italian for a while, & the bizarre thing for me is that I am able to translate certain italian texts, & I am also able to read some aspects of any daily italian “giornale”. However my personal problem is the spoken word and trying to construct a decent sentence in my brain. I seem only to be able to think in English, & not in Italian. Is this normal?, & if so, how do I overcome this? I’m not asking to be fluent, but to be able to talk to locals and for me (& them), to enjoy the experience. Frustrated Derek from Leeds
Thanks for commenting.
As regards your problem with speaking Italian, if you think about it carefully, when you speak English you aren’t really ‘constructing a decent sentence in your brain’.
Rather, you’re stringing together a sequence of tried and tested structures that you’ve used many, many times before, though perhaps in a unique combination. Your speech today may be similar to that which you produce every day, or it may be much more complex (for example, if you’re doing a presentation or answering interview questions). Either way, though, unless you’re a writer or an actor, what you’ll say will be mostly made up of tried-and-tested pieces.
Turning to Italian, the trick is to forget trying to compose perfectly grammatical sentences in your head before you open your mouth and focus on other components of the act of communication. You already mentioned the importance of listening (no conversation will be effective unless you can understand what the other party is saying to you), but there’s also vocabulary, pronunciation, register (formality/informality), linking, discourse management, and many other elements.
How to bring your level in spoken Italian closer to what you can manage in English? Practice. It’s not that you have to learn Italian before you can speak, but that you have to speak (imperfectly) in order to learn!
Hope that helps!