“Ciao. Parlate italiano?” If you did, you would know that the phrase reads, “Hello. Do you speak Italian?” Wherever you go in Italy, chances are that you will hear Italian. Learning this Romance language is not as hard as it sounds either.
Italian is spoken by over 70 million people around the world. The majority of these are obviously in Italy however Switzerland, Vatican City, and San Marino also have large populations that speak Italian. Learning the language will make a huge difference when you travel to any of these places. You do not have to be fluent either. Knowing even a few words and phrases in the language will provoke some sympathy from the locals – whereas knowing none often gives the impression that you are just another stuck up tourist.
Due to the popularity of Italian, learning it is not that hard. Books and tapes are readily available at your local bookstore or online. You can also take classes in Italian. There are several programs out there designed specifically for travelers. These programs are designed to teach you the basics in a short period of time so that you can ask directions and that all important question, “where is the bathroom?” “Dove è la stanza da bagno?”
Once in Italy or the country of your choice, you will be surrounded by Italian. Learning this way, or submersion learning, is often the best way to learn a foreign language. You can not help but to pick up a phrase or two when you constantly hear it spoken, see it written, and/or speak and write it yourself. Often, the locals will be thrilled to assist you with grammar and pronunciation if you show an interest. Do not be surprised if you come home knowing more than when you left!
The main thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Arrivederci!