Italian language is often listed among the easiest languages for English speakers to learn, and there is some truth in that. For instance, Italian and English have a lot of cognates – words that have a similar form, meaning, and origin. These cognates are often of Latin origin, but some are also the result of English and Italian ‘interacting’ throughout history and words being borrowed from one language into the other. You won’t have any difficulty understanding such Italian words as università, possibile, or situazione – and there are many other words like that.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you can easily pick up Italian without even trying: learning any foreign language, Italian included, requires patience, effort, and regular practice – it can also present quite a few challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges Italian presents to English speakers.
The things that present the most difficulties are usually those that differ the most from your native language. Here are a few things that can make learning Italian hard for native speakers of English.
- The rolling ‘r’. Italian pronunciation, compared to English, is fairly straightforward. There is a set of rules that you need to learn, of course, but very few exceptions, but they are quite logical and not that hard. However, rolling your r’s is tricky. You can watch dozens of YouTube tutorials and still not get the hang of it! The best way to learn rolling your r’s like a true Italian is to work with an experienced Italian tutor who will be able to correct you and give you pronunciation advice in real time.
- Articles, preposition, and their combinations. On the one hand, the concept of articles is not new for English speakers. Although articles in Italian function differently from English, there is no need to try and understand the concept itself – something speakers of languages with no articles may struggle with. However, articles in Italian have the category of gender and number, which results in many different forms. Also, when articles are used with prepositions, they merge to create a new word: in and il become nel, a and lo become allo, and so on.
- The subjunctive form. The subjunctive form is used to expressed doubt, opinion, wish, possibility, uncertainty, and other personal feelings. It is used in Italian much more frequently than in English. You simply can’t learn to speak Italian without learning the subjunctive – which can be hard, as the subjunctive forms of many verbs are completely different from the infinitive.
Do not worry about the difficulties of learning Italian, though! They are not too many, and they are compensated manifold by the advantages learning Italian can offer you. Here are a few examples:
- It offers great business opportunities. Italy is a thriving economy, one of the largest in the Euro zone. It is home to many global brands and many international companies strive to expand in the Italian market.
- It is a key to culture. From Ancient Rome to Mozart’s operas in Italian to modern Italian movies, knowledge of the Italian language will open up a vast world of culture to you. As a bonus, traveling to Italy and enjoying some of this culture first-hand becomes much easier.
- You will understand your own language better. When you learn foreign languages you begin to understand the different ways languages work, including your native language.
- It is good for your brain. Learning a foreign language ‘exercises’ your brain and keeps it healthy longer.
- It is a fun and beautiful language.
Like any foreign language, learning Italian may present some challenges. However, you can easily overcome them if you work with a native Italian teacher who specializes in teaching Italian to English-speaking students. They will be able to guide you it the best way possible, help you learn Italian quickly and efficiently, and reap all the wonderful benefits knowledge of the Italian language can offer.