Italian Web Resources

Italian Web Resources

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Learning Italian will probably always be a struggle for me. I’m always amazed when I talk to someone and they say that they just “picked it up”. I know that languages come easily to some people. The lovely D seems to understand spoken Italian better than I do which drives me nuts. Perhaps that’s because she studied French a lot when she was in high school and college while I avoided any semblance of real language study in both cases. The Latin that I studied in Jr. High (or middle school as it’s called now) has never been much help. However I use whatever resources that I can find to help me soldier on with the goal of, if not real fluency, at least respectable ability in the language. I would like to someday be able to strike up a conversation with a stranger in Italy and have a reasonable chat.

The web does offer a lot of options. There are a couple of blogs written by Americans that I follow. One is written by an American woman from the San Francisco Bay Area (a virtual neighbor). I can generally read her blog reasonably well which makes it both good practice and gives me a little more confidence in the language. It is called “Diario di una studentessa matta” – Diary of a crazy student. You can find her blog here. Another blog that I like that is very language specific is also on my blog roll on the right sidebar. This is “Becoming Italian Word by Word”. Diane Hales who writes this blog really likes the language and has written a book about it that I want for a gift one of these day (hear that D?). Her posts almost always describe some interesting Italian words but you don’t need to be trying to learn the language to enjoy it. On the other hand if the language is your goal it is an easy way to broaden your vocabulary. Here is a link to her blog.

Lest I forget, I find Google Translate to be an enormous help. I use it to check my Italian when writing to my Italian correspondent, Massimiliano, and if need be I use it to translate something written in Italian on any website. Also it seems to be built into my preferred browser, Google Chrome. It automatically detects a foreign language and asks if I want to have it translated. I can revert to the original or see the original language for a sentence by hovering the cursor over the translated sentence. How cool is that!

Another blog that I like is really a commercial one. It is maintained by a company that makes language learning software – Transparent Language. I have used their software in the past but seem to have lost the disks – it’s been awhile since I used it. It really was pretty good software and probably has improved a lot since i first got it. Still, I receive their Italian Word of the Day every day by email which gives a word, a usage example and the pronunciation of both the word and a sentence each day. The blog is written in English but has some very interesting and different aspects of life and culture in Italy. Just poke around and you’ll find some interesting things. Don’t be deterred by posts that are very language learning specific if that’s not your goal. You’ll find something really interesting with minimal effort. Here is a link to the blog.

For serious language learners there is a blog from the University of Texas (of all places) that is good for learning and can be quite amusing. This is called “Radio Arlecchino” and provides an audio podcast as well as a pdf transcript in both English and Italian. It can be a little hard to follow sometimes because the vocabulary can be a little advanced but you get a good view of real Italian usage. There are two principle narrator-instructors and I particularly like it when the man of the team says something like, “in English we don’t really have a plural form of “you” except if you live in Texas – then it’s ya’ll”. Here is a link for your amusement.

One last item. Interestingly enough I found, quite by accident, another blog with the identical name to mine, Dreaming In Italian, but the URL has dashes; What a surprise. I left a comment but never heard from the person (male/female? – no indication). The blog has been largely dormant for the last few months but I really recommend the “Italian Slang Dictionary”. You know that you really wanted to know what those guys were saying to each other on the street when they almost collided on their Vespas! Here is a link to the slang.

I hate to leave the post without some photo or video. I hope that you like this one. It kind of reminds me of one of the guys that was in one of my Italian classes.

Any of you Italian language enthusiasts out there, please don’t hesitate to share your own favorite sites for enjoying and learning the language.

2 Responses to “Italian Web Resources”

  1. Dana Says:

    Good links. I always like Italian slang, but I’m trying not to learn very many of them at the moment – right now, for me, it’s too easy to forget a phrase and use a similar incorrect one. In other words, I’m trying to keep my chances of getting in trouble very low!

    I still think that is a good resource for free basic language courses. There is no limit to how many times you can take them, there are written and speaking practice assignments for each lesson, and the assignments are reviewed by native speakers of the language you are learning. A good way to start, I think.

    I don’t usually like Family Guy, but this is funny.


  2. Joe Says:


    I’m a little bit the same in terms of having so much vocabulary that I’m trying to stuff into my head that maybe I can forgo some of those that are a little less, er, polite. I do remember two or three that I learned when I spent some time in Rome and those will always be with me. I will try Live Mocha this weekend. I am trying all kinds of stuff. I just bought a webcam because I want to try using your method to try and find others to speak with. I do think that my friend from Torino, Massimiliano, is ready to give Skype a try. I have never even seen Family Guy before since I watch almost zero TV but I thought that this was pretty funny.


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