Learning Italian via Skype?

Learning Italian is something that I feel passionate about.  However, I never thought it would be as easy as a Skype call!  I recently discovered I can learn Italian in Italy without leaving my home in Los Angeles.  For the past six months I have been using Skype to call  my new ‘bff’ and teacher Marco.

Marco was recommended as an Italian tutor by Rick Breco of Noi Salon in Rome. He told me all I needed was a computer and Skype to have an Italian lesson with a native speaker anywhere in the world.  I was introduced to Marco who lives and works in Salerno, a city south of Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. We meet on Skype once or twice a week, and review lessons that that he has sent via email, and converse according to my ability.  I now have an espresso in the comfort of my own kitchen while learning Italian with Marco who is sitting at his computer in Campania.

Love and understand the Italian people, for the people are more marvelous than the land.~E M Forster

The idea of using Skype to learn Italian intrigued me because I always wanted to be immersed in the local culture by an Italian living in the region of my ancestors.  This would allow me to stay up to date with current events and the local gossip.  In fact, sometimes the Italians know what’s going on in the USA before we do.   Case in point, Marco told me about the whole ‘Arnold’ drama one week before the story broke here!

Of course I love talking about the food and wine of his region, as well as the history and politics.   At times I feel like I am sitting with Marco at his local bar with a glass of Greco di Tufo talking about local politics, film, and the weather.   I learned that Italians love to talk politics. Maybe it’s because Italy was unified only 150 years ago, (1860) and with its 1tumultuous history, talking politics is considered a national pastime.

La Bella Lingua ~ the world’s most seductive language

Italian is known as ‘la bella  lingua’ and in Dianne Hales’ book, titled the same,  she enumerates 10 reasons to fall in love with the Italian language.  I like #9:  You’re never too young—or too old—to learn Italian.  So I set out to learn this beautiful, fun and sexy language.

Over the years, I bought tapes and books, took classes, joined conversational groups, got addicted to Un Posto al Sole (an Italian soap opera).   Inspired by Diana Hales’ words, I was sure was not too old to master Italian, a language that is so dear to my heart.

Before starting my classes with Marco, I would prepare for a trip to Italy armed with my phrase books and basic knowledge of the language; if all else failed, I’d just use my hands.  This worked really well when visiting Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan but venturing outside the main four cities there were problems.  I couldn’t speak or understand enough Italian to really know the region, culture, or people of Italy.  Marco has really helped in this area as he has taught me about the idioms used in daily conversations by everyday Italians.

Forget the phrase books and speak like an Italian.

My first piece of advise is to forget those ‘phase books.’  What I failed to realize was that asking a question in Italian implies you can speak Italian.  Your response will be in Italian spoken very fast.  Answers are never  simple.  More often than not their responses would leave me with a dumb look on my face.  Thanks to Marco and Skype he is never more than a phone call away.  There is a free Skype app!

Before starting my Skype lessons, I always thought learning Italian would come easy to me, especially with the expert skills of Marco.  Boy was I in for a surprise!

…to be continued

Click for a free one hour lesson !

written by

Italian travel expert, living in Los Angeles, escaping to Italy several times a year, discovering the unspoiled provinces of Italy. ©2012 Elizabeth Condelli.  All rights reserved
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  • http://melissamuldoon.wordpress.com/ Melissa

    Bravo! Anch’io uso skype ogni settimana per fare conversazione con un’amica in Puglia per chiacchierare e per perfezionare la lingua. (Ascolto anche Un posto al sole sul ipod ogni volta che vado in palestra!) Sono d’accordo con te che ci sono tanti altri modi per imparare la lingua oltre ai libri di grammatica!!!

    • http://www.escape-artists.com Elizabeth

      Ciao Melissa, Ho letto il tuo blog. Hai anche una passione per Italia! Abbiamo tanti in comune. Ti seguo sul twitter e inizierò a tweet in Italiano quando ti vedo.

  • Larry

    Great article, well done! I want to try it too.

    • http://www.escape-artists.com Elizabeth

      Hi Larry, Glad you like the article. You really should try learning Italian with Marco, not only am I learning to speak Italian better, I am becoming more confident.

  • http://kjgetaways.wordpress.com Kerrberr

    What a great idea! I’m going to give this a try. I tried the same as you – language courses, videos, vocab books, etc… I’ve spent >10years trying to learn Italian off & on. I want to return to Italy next year & would love to have a better grasp of the language. Grazie!

    • http://www.escape-artists.com Elizabeth

      Learning a new language is very hard when you don’t have the opportunity to practice. With Marco you can speak Italian with a native as many times a week as you want. In bucca al lupo!