I have a reasonable understanding of Italian grammar - I do not believe in the view that English grammar has a set of rules with some exceptions, whilst Italian grammar has a set of exceptions, which may themselves have their own exceptions, and some rules, very unkind ! I also have a fair vocabulary - my problem is conversational Italian.
Picture the scenario, I am chatting with Ofelia, I should be so lucky. Ofelia speaks to me, I translate it, in my head to English, think what I want to say in English, translate it into Italian then 10 minutes later reply.
Are there any tips ? I am listening and listening to the audio files in the hope that my old ears ( ho ottant'anni) can become attuned to spoken Italian, spoken at the normal conversational speed.
Does one eventually start thinking in Italian, if so how ?
ItalianPod101 has great audio, speaking, reading and many more resources which are very useful. The best way to beginning thinking and practising what you have learnt is by talking with the natives. Go to www.italki.com, get a free conversational parter who is a native Italian, and chat at least an hour a week with skype. I started doing it. At first I was slow, making many mistakes, and above all, shy. I now have a good friend and I am very confident with my Italian
Ciao, Luca Deon, A 13 Year Old Italian Student from the UK
The best tip of course is to find a native speaker to make firends with
Since it is not always easy, the best way is to listen and listen again the same things, then, if possible, learn them by heart. This will give you strong basis. Another tip is not to be too concerned with grammar: speak and write as much as you can! Mistakes will make you stronger. I hope you will start dreaming (not only thinking) in Italian soon!