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Marco: All About Italian Lesson 11 - Top Five Tools for Learning Italian
Marco: "Buon giorno," and welcome back to our new All About Italian lesson series!
Laura: "Ciao, bentornati! Sono Laura!" Hey, Marco, what are we talking about today?
Marco: Today, we're going to give our listeners a list of tools they can use during their studies!
Laura: Oh, you mean resource books, online dictionaries, grammar and verb checkers, pronunciation checkers…
Marco: Yep, but also Italian folk songs and comics can be very useful while learning Italian!
Laura: Okay, Marco, let's now start by talking about resource books.
Resource Books
Marco: The first step is to recognize your level of Italian, and to do that it is necessary to check the "Common European Framework of Reference."
Laura: Hey, wait a minute. What's that?
Marco: That is a scheme issued by the European Union; here you can find all the levels from A1 to C2 with detailed explanations for what kind of skills are required for each level.
Laura: Why don't we give this information to our listeners?
Marco: Sure, let's begin with the lowest level, A1. If you have A1 certification, you can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
Laura: You can also introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details, such as where you live, people you know, and things you have.
Marco: Finally, you can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Laura: The next level is A2. At this level you can understand sentences and frequently used expressions relating to areas of most immediate relevance.
Marco: You can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
Laura: And with an A2 level, you can also describe in simple terms aspects of your background, immediate environment, and matters in areas of immediate need.
Marco: Let's now move to the next level, B1. When holding a B1 level, you can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
Laura: You can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken. You can produce simple, connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
Marco: Lastly, you're able to describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes, and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Laura: Let's go on with the B2 level of Italian language. At this level, you can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialization.
Marco: You can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
Laura: Finally, you can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
Marco: Now we have reached the highest levels. For these, the language ability goes closer to a native skill. Let's look at C1.
Laura: If you have a C1 level of Italian, you can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts and recognize implicit meaning. You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
Marco: You can also use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes. You can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.
Laura: We reached the top level, C2!
Marco: Oh, that’s the top…
Laura: Yes, Marco, but it's not impossible. Whoever has C2 can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
Marco: This person can also summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
Laura: And lastly, a person with C2 can express himself or herself spontaneously, very fluently, and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.
Marco: I hope this explanation somehow helps our listeners to have a clear idea in how all the different levels are recognized and divided.
Laura: This will help you whenever you plan to get a certification for the Italian language.
Marco: Now, the second step is to find a good manual and reference aids for Italian!
Laura: Sure, we recommend "Zanichelli Editore." Zanichelli is the most famous Italian publisher for training aids in Italy.
Marco: www.dudat.it/zanichellibenvenuti.
Laura: The most important institution and reference point for the Italian language since 1585 is "Accademia Della Crusca."
Marco: You can visit the Italian website at www.accademiadellacrusca.it.
Laura: We have now tool number two, Italian dictionaries.
Online Dictionaries
Marco: When learning Italian, one of the first things that you must be able to recognize are the feminine or masculine and plural or singular forms of nouns.
Laura: The best way to recognize them is to check a good dictionary to find out the right answer.
Marco: A good dictionary is not only a tool to understand the meaning of words, but it also gives clarifications about spelling and verb conjugations.
Laura: Of the available online solutions, we recommend wordreference.com.
Marco: Wordreference.com provides many languages in addition to Italian as well as translations from English to Italian and vice versa. This website also offers a very useful forum.
Laura: Another online dictionary you can use is "The Free Dictionary" at www.it.thefreedictionary.com.
Marco: Besides offering a good Italian dictionary, this website also gives the etymology of words and acronyms, and it offers a forum and news.
Laura: The last dictionary we recommend is all in Italian, with Italian definitions.
Marco: Yes, Laura. It is for those who have a higher knowledge of the Italian language, and it also provides grammar sections.
Laura: This is www.dizionario-italiano.it.
Grammar/Verb Checker
Marco: I guess the next tool will be very appreciated by our listeners…
Laura: What is it?
Marco: Tool number three, grammar and verb checkers!
Laura: Oh, grammar and verbs! Almost every student of Italian will surely say that the most challenging part of the language is verbs and their conjugations.
Marco: For this reason, whenever you are in doubt, please look at www.italian-verbs.com.
Laura: Here you type in the verb, and the conjugations for all the persons and all the tenses immediately appear.
Marco: Great! That's a very good tool, but for any other grammar clarification, please remember to visit the website of "Accademia della Crusca."
Laura: Hey, Marco, how about tool number four?
Marco: As tool number four, we chose Italian folk songs and lyrics and Italian comics.
Italian Folk Songs and Lyrics/Italian Comics
Laura: Oh, that's interesting! Actually, learning with songs is a fun way to improve your skills in Italian. Because songs are a part of culture and you can only benefit from the music.
Marco: On the web, you can find a lot of sites with Italian songs in karaoke form. Reading while you're singing is amusing, but afterward you should check the lyrics to better understand the meaning and the usage of the words.
Laura: However, the Italian language in songs can be very simple but also very complicated and poetic. The singers we recommend are Elisa, Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti…
Marco: Zucchero, Alex Britti, Carmen Consoli, and Tiziano Ferro. These are only a few, but the Italian musical panorama is very vast, with everything from pop music, folk, and rock to opera.
Laura: Can you imagine? Understanding opera masterpieces in the original language is undoubtedly priceless!
Marco: Another useful tool that can help you become familiar with conversational and casual Italian is comics.
Laura: In Italy, Disney's Mickey Mouse is known by another name. He is "Topolino."
Marco: And Topolino's comic is written in easy Italian for kids. Reading it can be fun and relaxing at the same time.
Laura: For those who are more confident in Italian, we recommend some other famous comics such as Dylan Dog, the beloved "investigator of nightmares," or Diabolic the thief…
Marco: And then Tex or Nathan Never. These are rich in common expressions used in casual Italian. Laura, which one is your favorite?
Laura: I used to read Dylan Dog I think it's the best!
Marco: Oh, I remember I read Nathan Never. That was fun too!
Laura: We slowly got to tool number five!
Pronunciation Tool
Marco: Finally, while being exposed to new Italian words, either written or spoken, you might first learn how to pronounce them.
Laura: In this case, there is a useful website you can visit www.research.att.com/~ttsweb/tts/demo.php.
Marco: Don’t forget to check-out the lesson notes for the exact spelling of this web address.
Laura: Yes, you’re right!
Marco: You'll see that there are only three easy steps to take.
Laura: First, choose either the masculine voice (Giovanni) or the feminine voice (Francesca) for Italian.
Marco: Then enter in the box the word or phrase you want to learn how to pronounce.
Laura: Finally, click either on the button "speak" to hear the word or phrase or click on the "download" button to listen and save the audio file of the word or phrase you added in the text box.
Marco: This tool gives you a good pronunciation of standard Italian and will surely help you improve your pronunciation.
Laura: Wow! This is a very useful list of tools for learning Italian!
Marco: For website details, please look at our PDF version.
Laura: We'll be waiting for you in our next All About Italy lesson! "Ciao!"
Marco: "Ciao, ciao a tutti!"