Italian is a Romance Language!


Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, as a second language in Albania, Malta, Slovenia and Croatia, by minorities in Crimea, Eritrea, France, Libya, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania and Somalia, and by expatriate communities in Europe, in the Americas and in Australia. Many speakers are native bilinguals of both standardised Italian and other regional languages. 

According to the European Union, Italian is spoken as a native language by 65 million people in the EU (13% of the EU population), mainly in Italy, and as a second language by 14 million (3%). Including the Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland and Albania) and on other continents, the total number of speakers is around 85 million. 

In many American high schools, Italian was taught along Spanish but in the 1960's and 1970's, this became increasingly rare. Even here in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Italian language classes are rare but when they are offered, they fill very quickly!

Learn How to Speak Italian

Most who want to learn to speak Italian do so because they are traveling to Italy. You've all seen the travel shows and know learning a bit of the language no matter where you go is simply the polite thing to do. The level and speaking ability you want to obtain depends upon your goals. You may want to know just enough to get by, you may want to be able to be able to order at a restaurant or make a purchase at a store or speak more fluently to a native speaker.

A good start is to learn the basic phrases:

Learning a few basic phrases will help you get around in Italy and decide whether going further with the language interests you. Having a little familiarity with these phrases will also give you a head start if you decide to take further lessons. Practice pronouncing these phrases with an Italian accent:

  • Buon giorno ("Hello / Good morning/afternoon")
  • Ciao ("Hi / Hello / Bye") (But be forewarned, don't say this in Italy. Click here to find out why)
  • Arrivederci ("Goodbye")
  • Per favore / Per piacere ("Please")
  • Come sta? / Come stai? ("How are you?" [formal / informal])
  • Sto bene. ("I am fine / well.")
  • Scusi / Scusa ("Excuse me" [formal / informal])
  • Grazie ("Thank you")

Below are several ways to learn to speak Italian from basic travel italian, to beginner to fluent:

Learn Italian Online

The number of websites availble to learn Italian is in the tens of thousands from amateur and free to professional, fee-based. Here are several:

  • www.loescen.com - practice basic Italian words online - click here
  • www.oneworlditalian.com - online lessons - click here 
  • www.duolingo.com - online lessons - click here
  • www.iluss.com - online tests and lessons - click here

Learn Italian on your Mobile Device

The easiest way to find apps for your mobile device for learning Italian is to simply do a search on Google Play or the iOS App Store for "Italian Language Learning." You will find countless apps on both. Remember that the reviews are usually the best indicators of the app's reliability and usefullness.

  • The Best Podcasts for Learning Italian - click here
  • www.fluenz.com - app for you iPhone - click here
  • www.Babbel.com - app for Android and others - click here
  • Rosetta Stone mobile apps - click here


Take an Italian Course

The number of classes in the Italian language locally are far and few between. There is, however, one offered at the Hershey Public Library. Click here to go to the adult enrichment classes page of the library's website for more information and registration. The Library offers this class several times per year but register quickly as they fill up quickly. Here is a description from their website:  "This ten-week class consists of consists of learning the essentials and basic structure of the Italian language. It introduces the students to contemporary Italian vocabulary, pronunciation, greetings, conversation, phrases and dialogues. It will also cover how to tell time, travel tips, money exchange, shopping and tourist information as well as varied aspects of the Italian culture and foods."

You can also take a travel-based Italian program to Italy. Of course, it is recommended that you have your basic Italian language skills attained before going on the trip so as to maximize the enjoyment of your travel experience. Harrisburg Area Community College offers such a program. Click here to go to their website for their faculty-led travel page. They offer this program every other year or so.

Hire an Italian Tutor

italian tutor ciao sm.jpg

Learn from the best teachers across the country right from your home through your favorite video platform like Skype or FaceTime! You master new skills live through one-on-one instruction with a tutor from your home and you can achieve your goals at your own pace. Many of the online tutors are native Italian speakers and the websites have student rating systems.

  • www.TakeLessons.com - prices range from $25 hour and up - click here
  • www.WyzAnt.com - meet in person or online - click here
  • www.VerbalPlanet.com - online using Skype - $22/hour, free trial lesson - click here
  • www.CyberItalian.com - membership based plan - varying prices - free trials - click here

Buy Italian Language Software


The cost of language learning software can vary greatly. The most expensive programs typically offer the most sophisticated and advanced bells and whistles. Here are a few of the industry leaders:

  • Rosetta Stone on Amazon.com - click here
  • www.Pimsleur.com - click here
  • www.byki.com - click here




Consume Italian Media

Immersing yourself in Italian media is a great way to continue improving your skills, and it helps you gain a deeper understanding of the Italian language through pop culture and other contexts. Rent Italian films and watch them with Italian subtitles, or no subtitles at all. Focus on understanding the language; soon you should be able to pick up on what the actors are saying. Netflix.com has many Italian language films.

There are a great number of online Italian language newspapers. Click here for an extensive list of Italian online media.

Content copyright Michael J Macchioni