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Italian for Beginners

by Rosetta Stone
Man and woman holding hands while smiling in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

We all know that Italian is the language of love, but it’s also among the most useful languages to learn. Italy is a key location for business across all of Europe. And with a notable presence in cuisine, automobiles, and fashion, it’s not only an asset for personal growth and travel but also a valuable tool for members of the global economy.

Beyond its obvious economic advantages, of course, Italian serves as a gateway to important artistic, religious, and political histories—across the Mediterranean and within the context of broader Europe. Whether you’re reading up on Leonardo da Vinci or figuring out how to cook the most authentic versions of some of your favorite Italian dishes, learning Italian is essential.

Rosetta Stone designs language-learning programs that build confidence in speaking and understanding Italian. Whether you’re a complete beginner, or have already had some exposure to the language and want to advance your fluency, Rosetta Stone can help. With an immersive approach that focuses on contextualizing learning, Rosetta Stone uses an award-winning mobile app to deliver bite-sized lessons that help you learn Italian anytime and anywhere.

Beginners’ Italian

  • How do you say … in Italian? = Come si dice … in Italiano?
  • Where is the hotel? = Dov’è l’hotel?
  • Could you repeat that, please? = Potrebbe ripetere, per favore?
  • Where are you from? = Di dov’è?
  • Do you speak English? = Parla inglese?
  • Yes, I speak English – Si, parlo inglese
  • What does that mean? = Cosa vuole dire?
  • How much is this? = Quanto costa questo?

For new learners of the Italian language , one of the first notable characteristics you might come to recognize is the Italian pronunciation of double consonants. These 2-letter occurrences appear in a wide array of common words, including everyday words like pizza and anno and the name Alessandra. And while you’ll come to learn that many Italian words are enunciated just a bit differently, a helpful tip to accurately pronouncing these double consonants in Italian is to place a bit less emphasis on the vowel that comes right before.

A second notable characteristic of Italian pronunciation relates to the letter c. By comparison, in other Romance languages such as Spanish, the c is quite often pronounced like an s. This use of c is referred to as el ceceo and differs quite markedly with Iberian Spanish. But unlike Spanish, in Italian the letter c is very often pronounced with a hard ch sound, as you hear in the pronunciation of the English word “charge.”

As with most rules, there are some exceptions. The letter c is pronounced in other ways in different contexts. For example, the Italian letter c can sound like the English letter c, which is sometimes pronounced like a k in common and familiar words such as company, capital, campfire, Caroline, coordination, Compton, and collar. You’ll hear this same k-sounding pronunciation in some Italian words. You’ll find that those Italian words do include an a, o, or u after the c, such as in the Italian words Capri, Campari, capra (goat), cannoli, and campione (champion).

Have you ever gone to an Italian restaurant and ordered the potato-filled pasta, known as gnocchi? This delectable dumpling-style dish is not only very popular, it can also help us to learn the accurate Italian pronunciation of the gn sound. In Italian, that two-letter combination of gn is pronounced quite nasally, comparable to the Spanish ñ sound. Let’s look more closely at the Spanish translation of the Italian word gnocchi to understand this:

  • Italian = gnocchi
  • Spanish = ñoqui

To further improve your Italian pronunciation, you’ll need to receive accurate and immediate feedback. This critical step will allow you to make any and all needed corrections to your pronunciation. Then, after you’ve learned the correct pronunciation, you’ll need to practice until you develop a comfortable feel for shaping the specific sounds that make up spoken Italian. Rosetta Stone embeds our proven and patented TruAccent™ speech-recognition engine into every language learning lesson. It provides you with the accurate and immediate feedback you must have for correct pronunciation. TruAccent was developed by scanning and then analyzing the speech of native and non-native Italian speakers. You will find it can be an extremely powerful tool to help you learn to speak and understand Italian.

After new language learners have acquired the building blocks of speaking Italian, they will be able to readily transition to longer phrases that make up everyday conversations. Rosetta Stone’s quick, 10-minute language lessons are designed for exactly this approach. You’ll be on your way to speaking Italian with comfort and confidence before you know it.

How Rosetta Stone Can Help

Learning a language can be an experience that transforms your life. Not only does it open you to a world full of both professional and personal possibilities, but it also expands your thinking and can prime your confidence. As technology shrinks our world and we become members of a global community, the ability to learn a language becomes an essential part of how we interact and succeed.

Perhaps you’ve hesitated to learn a new language because you’re worried about the time commitment. Or maybe you’ve heard it’s more difficult to learn a language as an adult. Set these common misconceptions about learning languages aside, because research suggests that your ability to learn a language is mostly a matter of practice—building confidence through speaking and contextualizing your learning.

After you decide on which language to learn and begin to pick up the basics, developing accurate pronunciation depends on getting immediate feedback. Rosetta Stone helps you get the pronunciation right in a snap with our patented TruAccent™ speech engine, which instantly compares your voice to native and non-native speakers, so you get real-time feedback for the most accurate pronunciation. This feedback will help you to make needed corrections to your pronunciation. Then you can practice until your mouth is able to readily shape the sounds that make up the language. It’s also adjustable, which allows you to fine-tune your accent. TruAccent is among the most powerful tools for helping you learn and speak virtually any language.

After beginners have acquired basic words, short phrases, and their proper pronunciation, it will be a natural transition to learn the longer phrases that make up so much of everyday conversation. Rosetta Stone’s brief, 10-minute lessons are built in exactly this way, teaching the basics first, then moving onto longer phrases. This approach helps you acquire the skills to understand and be understood with confidence.

Try Our Award-Winning App

Surround yourself with Italian whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app .

Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation .

The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.

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