How can you really start to think in Italian?

Today I would like to look at how you can really start to think in Italian, hopefully something you will find both interesting and useful.

The most important content of communication is of course words and as you learn these you start to think in the new language. This will not of course happen without a conscious effort to make it happen. To think in a foreign language is an exercise in mental discipline, just like meditation. Although it can be very time consuming you can learn to train your mind, from the very beginning, to think in the new language, thereby achieving excellent results. Even though this will be a challenge for learners of Italian, it can be achieved if you think in Italian without translating words and phrases. Let me say that again; “It can be achieved if you think in Italian without translating words and phrases” I cannot over emphasise the importance of this. One of the problems to confront when learning a new language is translation; there are a lot of students that tend to translate words and phrases from their language into Italian. In doing this you tend to create phrases which do not sound natural because the structure of the two languages will usual vary and also because there are many idiomatic expressions which cannot be translated.


To become fluent in Italian students need to be exposed to as much Italian as possible. Different linguistic studies have shown that our memory is based on context and vision; therefore you must associate words and phrases with images to facilitate learning and acquisition of Italian.

When students have a limited vocabulary, beginners level, when they know basic nouns and adjectives it is important to associate these with images.


A simple method to encourage thinking in Italian is to look around the room, select and object and see if you can describe it in Italian without translating. If you already know some colours, think of the colour, you should be able to say if it is “grande” o “piccolo”, perhaps what it is used for. Think of the vocab in your head and then say it out loud.


Other methods of training your brain to think in Italian which are extremely effective include; reading Italian with pictures so perhaps a magazine or a newspaper – don’t forget you do not need to understand every word, watching video clips or films (even with English subtitles to start with) and listening to music. Songs with music often tend to stay in your head (earworms) even if you do not know the meaning of all the words they are an excellent way to train your mind to think in Italian.

Once you have some basic vocab conversation is a great way to start thinking in Italian. Unprepared speech, asking and answering questions you will be surprised how much you can do in a short space of time.


If you are reading this and you are already studying Italian with us at The Modern Language School then your lessons are a platform from which to start training you mind to think in Italian. Hopefully this blog has given you some ideas of how to continue this outside the classroom and the encouragement to achieve great results! If, on the other hand, you have studied some Italian at home, or have been to Italy and struggled to get by, and would like to join one of my courses then please feel free to contact me at any time or check out our website