Lesson 1 Italian for beginners – Introductions

Here are the basic phrases that you need to get you started in Italian:

  1. Your very first phrases…

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

For example:

Ciao, mi chiamo Laura e sono Italiana.

Can you write something about yourself?

2) Three questions to get to know someone…

  • Come ti chiami? Mi chiamo Laura
  • Di dove sei? Sono Italiana
  • Quanti anni hai? Ho 22 anni

Now it is your turn. Can you write something about yourself?

3) Three more questions, to know them better…

Here are their meaning and possible answers:

In order to remember, it is good to practice. Can you write a short paragraph about yourself?

Example:

Ciao, mi chiamo Laura e sono Italiana.

Ho 22 anni e abito a Milano. I miei hobby sono: tennis, golf e dipingere.

 

Do you know how to talk about hobbies? If not, click on the next blog which is all about hobbies, sports and free time!

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The Italian alphabet – l’alfabeto italiano

What is a phonetic language?

Italian is a phonetic language and this means that – for the most part – it is pronounced as it is written. This is good news if you are learning Italian. Consequently, compared to other non-phonetic languages, writing in Italian is fairly straightforward.

If you are an English speaker, it might take a little time to get used to correctly pronouncing the last vowel of Italian words. Therefore, practising the actual sound of them helps, as well as practising the whole alphabet.

21 letters only

The Italian alphabet, as compared to the English, only has 21 letters:
16 consonants and 5 vowels.
Here is how to pronounce each letter:

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

The Italian alphabet
The Italian alphabet

So, what about the other letters that are missing: j, k, w, x, y.?

Well, they don’t belong to the Italian alphabet and so are considered foreign letters. Consequently, they are used to spell foreign words which have been adopted from other languages. For example: jolly, kayak, web, xilofono, yogurt.

Here is how to read them:

The letter H

A note must be added about the letter h. This letter is not pronounced in Italian. The h is used as a diacritical mark, which means that it is added to other letters, namely c and g, to change their pronunciation.

The rule of pronunciation for c and g

The sound c can be pronounced in two different ways, as in the words ciao and casa.
In ciao the sound c is soft like the English ch as in Charlie and in casa, the sound is hard as the English k as in kayak.

Here is the rule of pronunciation of c:

In the same way, g can have a soft sound like in gelato, pronounced as j in jelly and hard sound as in Gatto, pronounced as the g in Gary.

The double consonants

Double consonants are also a characteristic of the Italian language. Double consonants are pronounced differently than the single consonants. They are pronounced with more emphasis and for longer but also the length of the vowel preceding the double consonant is shorter as in this example of the palla (ball) and longer before the single consonant: pa:la (shovel).

Any consonant can be doubled in a word with the exception of the h, as it is not pronounced. The double letter q is present in the Italian alphabet only in the word ‘soqquadro’ which means to turn upside down/to create havoc, chaos.

The Italian vowels

In Italian, we have 5 written vowels: a, e, i, o and u. However, in fact, we have seven sounds as ‘e’ and ‘o’ can be pronounced opened or
closed producing two different sounds for each letter. Here is a rough way of understanding how to pronounce these sounds if you speak English:

A a (Anna) 

pronounced /a/ as in father

E e (Elefante)

E is pronounced either /e/ as the a in chaotic (Close sound)

or /ɛ/ as the e in red (Open sound)

I i (Italia)

Pronounced /i/ as in ee in feet

O o (Orso)

Pronounced /o/ as in ow in owe (close sound) as in Orso

O o (Otto)

Pronounced /ɔ/ as in ou in ought (American pron.) (open sound) as in otto

U u uva

Pronounced /u/ as in oo in boot

The grave and acute accents

The accent in this case is usually a grave accent as in papà, caffè, lunedì, però, più, ecc. All vowels can have a grave accent, however only the letter e can have an acute accent for example perché, poiché, etc.

In standard Italian, the pronunciation of the e varies according to the grave/acute accents. The acute accent is pronounced closed, and the grave opened.

Some native speakers – including myself – however, might not differentiate, in the north for example the word perché is pronounced incorrectly with a grave accent.

Relevant vocabulary:

L’alfabeto italiano – the Italian alphabet
L’alfabeto inglese – the English alphabet
La lettera – the letter
La lettera straniera – the foreign letter
La consonante – the consonant
La vocale – the vowel
Il suono – the sound
La doppia – the double consonants
L’accento – the accent
L’accento acuto – the acute accent
L’accento grave – the grave accent

Le vecchie decorazioni (livello A2)

11 Dicembre 2020

Il blog
Ecco un’altra puntata del nostro blog. Questo può essere complementare alla vostra lezione di italiano (Italian class). Può aiutarvi a capire la cultura italiana (Italian culture) e la lingua italiana (Italian language).

Come inizia la nostra storia
Sono un’insegnante di italiano come lingua straniera e ho vissuto a Londra per decenni. Sono sposata con un uomo inglese e abbiamo due figli. Nel settembre 2020 abbiamo deciso di trasferirci nel mio paesino originario che si trova in Italia fra il Lago di Como e le Alpi.

Adoro il Natale
Io amo il Natale, amo decorare la casa, comprare i regali, pianificare il pranzo e cucinare. In particolare, amo le decorazioni di Natale sia dentro casa che fuori. A Londra abbiamo tantissime decorazioni perché ogni anno non resisto e compro sempre qualcosa di nuovo. In Italia invece, non abbiamo niente. Cosí quest’anno ho deciso di creare delle decorazioni con i bambini.

Le decorazioni di Natale
Ogni anno i bambini portano a casa dall’asilo o da scuola delle decorazioni fatte da loro. Ricordo l’anno in cui mia figlia ha portato a casa una decorazione a forma di piede che doveva rappresentare la renna Rudolf. Purtroppo il lavoretto non aveva avuto un terribile successo o cosí ho pensato quell’anno. Eppure, con il passare del tempo, ho iniziato ad amare profondamente quella decorazione e l’appendo con affetto ogni anno al nostro albero di Natale.

Lavoretti con i bambini
Proprio per questo, quest’anno ho deciso di realizzare delle decorazioni con i bambini. Perciò abbiamo ritagliato cuori di carta, dipinto renne, incollato brillantini su stelline, e cosí via.

Le decorazioni del passato
Mio fratello Silvio, che abita al piano di sotto, ha visto cosa stavamo facendo. E` andato a casa sua e mi ha portato una scatola di sue decorazioni e di quelle ereditate da mia mamma. Ho aperto la scatola ed ecco che, con grande sorpresa, ho trovato delle decorazioni di carta che io avevo creato il mio ultimo anno in Italia, prima di andare a vivere a Londra. Quell’anno vivevo con i miei genitori e mia madre deve aver conservato le mie decorazioni per tutti questi anni! Mia madre purtroppo ci ha lasciato, ma il ritrovare i miei lavoretti, mi ha fatto pensare a lei e al suo amore. Forse anche lei ha provato le mie stesse emozioni, anno dopo anno, a riappendere le decorazioni fatte dalla figlia. Chissà!

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A year to forget and a learning revolution to continue

A year we will remember
2020 has been a year that most of us will remember; a sad time for some and a difficult time for most. To say that the virus has changed our lives is an understatement. The way people live has been revolutionized both in terms of their working life, their social life and the way people learn. Although we cannot deny the negative effects of the pandemic, some people have been able to find something positive in it such as being able to spend more quality time with their families, consider their travels more carefully as well as their shopping routines. Working from home will probably stay with us after the pandemic and so too will be the way we learn and lead our lives.

Learning online
During the pandemic, people started to take a great variety of classes online including languages. Learning a language online with a dedicated teacher is easy, accessible and convenient. Even people who loved attending a regular class have discovered the convenience of distance learning and the pleasure of doing it in their familiar environment.

Online classes at Parla Italiano
Parla Italiano responded to the Coronavirus crisis by closing our face-to-face classes following Government guidelines and opening online classes. We dedicated time to choose the application from which our virtual classes are delivered. All our classes are small and our courses are structured by level. All material presented during the lesson is made available before or after class as required. We have a white board that we share with our students. We use a variety of tools to make the classes truly engaging including numerous games. There is plenty of speaking practice during the lesson as students are split into smaller groups and enabled to interact with each other, making the most of the time available.

Our personal touch
I personally like to get to know our students before they join so that I can advise the best course for them. I like to discuss with my students their learning history and what they wish to achieve. Free trials are also available. Please get in touch by phone (UK number +44 7941092593) or by email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk. I look forward to speaking with you!

New classes starting soon
Our new Italian classes, including complete beginners, are opening soon, places are limited, please get in touch now to avoid disappointment. Our classes are listed on our website www.parlaitaliano.co.uk if you cannot find what you are looking for, please contact us.

Our blog in Italian
If you are not a complete beginner and have reached the level A2, please read our blog in Italian about my adventure of moving to Italy: joys and tribulations

Our next blog will be announced on our Facebook page:
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La riscoperta di casa (livello A2/B1)

30 ottobre 2020

Ecco un’altra puntata del nostro blog. Questo può essere complementare alla vostra lezione di italiano (Italian class). Può aiutarvi a capire la cultura italiana (Italian culture) e la lingua italiana (Italian language).

Sono un’insegnante di italiano come seconda lingua e ho vissuto a Londra per decenni. Sono sposata con un uomo inglese e abbiamo due figli. Nel settembre 2020 abbiamo deciso di trasferirci nel mio paesino originario che si trova in Italia fra il Lago di Como e le Alpi.

Per più di vent’anni ho vissuto a Londra, ne sono stata attratta, l’ho desiderata, mi sono immersa con piacere nel suo ritmo frenetico. L’ho conosciuta pian piano, l’ho amata, l’ho criticata e infine è diventata casa. Non avevo nostalgia dell’Italia nè il desiderio di tornare, o forse sì.

Ora che sono tornata in Italia, anche qui mi sento a casa. Si tratta però di una senzazione strana fatta di familiarità ma anche di sorpresa e di scoperta. Mi sorprendo a guardare dalla finestra, vedo la montagna che sovrasta tutte le altre ed è come se la vedessi per la prima volta. Non ho mai notato i suoi colori che cambiano drammaticamente con il cambio di stagione. La trovo bellissima. La natura mi circonda, e ogni volta che la guardo la sento sussurrare. Le montagne in particolare mi parlano della sua maestà, del suo potere e della sua protezione.

Care montagne mi siete mancate!

Annunceremo il nostro prossimo blog sulla pagina Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/italianinlondon

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What to expect from your Italian class

So, what can you expect from our Parla Italiano classes, what can you expect to learn after a term, and what kind of teachers and methods are used in our classes? Here is the answer:

Parla Italiano, led by myself, has been providing Italian classes since 2006. The success of our school is due to our professional approach. First of all, our native teachers must have a qualification for teaching Italian and experience. Just being a mother tongue is not enough to be able to analyse language, prepare lessons plans with specific aims and deliver it successfully.

Second of all, at Parla Italiano we believe that learning a language is all about motivation and fun. So the environment created in class is stress-free and non-critical, even if the lesson includes correction stages. The role of our teachers is to guide and make it possible for students to learn. Our teachers are able to make the learning process simple, effective and fun by using a variety of activities and material, including games, role plays and so on.

Last but not least, we give students the opportunity to speak. Our classes are small, so students can expect interaction and speaking from lesson one. We don’t expect our students to have previous knowledge, however they will acquire enough of it each lesson to be able to use it straight away. Students are never put on the spot and are given help at each stage.

After a term of classes, students should be able to talk about themselves, ask basic questions, order at the bar and at the restaurant, express preferences and so on. You would have learnt some basic grammar such as the present tense, articles, and so on. And most importantly, have gained some confidence.

The atmosphere in class is positive and encouraging. Mistakes are considered part of the journey. Each person will develop their language skills at their pace and although we give all the tools and advice to work on outside of the class, this is by choice, you don’t have to do it. We understand that the Italian class means different things to different students and we respect that. Please get in touch if you wish to know more!

For our full list of classes please visit our website: www.parlaitaliano.co.uk and click on Group Italian Classes. If you wish to speak with us, please write to: laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or phone: 07941 092593