Improve your Italian listening skills

It’s been another great weeks at The Modern Language School. Lots of hard work by our students as always as well as lots of fun and laughter! In our Italian classes we have been focusing on the importance of vocabulary (play the vocab ball game) and improving our listening skills. This has got me thinking… There is no doubt that Italian speak quickly and for someone learning the language it can be very difficult to understand. So much so listening exercises tend to be the least favourite classroom activity. Here are a few thoughts as to how to improve your listening (and speaking) skills.

  1. Watch as much Italian TV or videos as you can.

Currently on UK TV there are two Italian TV series Gomorrah Sky Atlantic Tuesday 11:30pm – also available on catch up and The Mafia Detective – Maltese available to download on All 4. If neither of these are to your taste then why not try RaiPlay the Italian version of IPlayer it asks you to register but it is free. Another great website is this is an Italian language learning website and is full of videos, usually with Italian subtitles however they are sorted by level so you should be able to find something to suitable. In class last week I used a video showing the “mozzafiato” Firenze there are a number of videos in this series about different Italian cities.


  1. Learn the pleasures of Italian Cinema.

If you have never watched an Italian film before then I would highly recommend you start with the famous award winning film Cinema Paradiso available in our small lending library at The Modern Language School or if you want to buy your own copy then it is available on Amazon for just £4.99. Other great films include: La meglio gioventù (my all-time favourite film!), La Vita è Bella, Piccolo Diavolo, Pane e Tupliani, Un viaggio in Italia – Una favola vera, Benvenuti al Sud, Mine Vaganti, La Mafia Uccide Solo D’estate, Il Postino and I could go on and on and on… Remember not only will you be improving your listening skills you will be widening you vocabulary and improving your Italian pronunciation simply by sitting there and enjoying a good film. A few years ago I had a student who was a true “cinefilo” “film buff” he would often watch a film in Italian with English subtitles, then watch it again with Italian subtitles and sometimes even a third time with no subtitles at all! His Italian improved in leaps and bounds over a very short space of time!


  1. Listen to music.

Ok so you might not be an opera buff, although listening to opera is very good for your Italian, but there is a lot more to Italian music than opera. Try searching for Italian music on you tube as often you get the lyrics on the video at the same time as the song. Following the lyrics and listening to the song is a great way to improve your Italian!


  1. Listen to Audiobooks.

If you like reading then this is a great way to practice your listening skills whilst enjoying a good story. I would recommend Imparare leggendo series of books which come with a CD, some of these are available to borrow from our lending library. Also check out this website as they sell easy readers to download and they have links to the audio file.


  1. Try and Italian Podcast.

The great thing about Podcasts is that you can download them to your Ipod and listen to them whilst you are doing something else, cooking, ironing, walking the dog or even while you are in your car. I would recommend


  1. Widen your vocabulary.

One of the main reasons students find listening to Italian difficult is their lack of vocabulary. Everything that I have mentioned above is great for increasing your Italian vocabulary. You could also try reading as much Italian as you can. Find something that interests you, Italian history, I gialli (crime novels), Italian recipes anything really and read it.  Remember though try to make it relaxed and enjoyable as opposed to hard work, it is not always necessary to understand every word or to sit there with a dictionary (boring!).


  1. Go to places where people speak Italian.

OK, yes we would all love to jet off on the next plane to Italy however sadly this is not always possible L there are other places to go. For my students attending your weekly classes is a great start. If you are reading this and you haven’t signed up for a class then check out the rest of this website. As well as an Italian class, at The Modern Language School, try going to your local Italian restaurant. They are often run by Italians and they are more than happy for you to practice your Italian with them.

Well I think that’s about it. I will end by saying remember whatever you choose to do make sure it is FUN! Buon divertimento!