5 Tips To Speak Italian Like A Native
So you have just started learning Italian as an adult. In that case, you may be wondering if it will ever be possible for you to speak Italian like a native, or if you will always keep your foreign accent. Even though there is nothing wrong with speaking Italian with a recognizable foreign accent, for many students being able to “polish” their Italian pronunciation is an absolute dream. Several studies show that it is unlikely to reach a condition of bilingualism if you start studying the target language after 6 years of age, while for a native-like competence, it is necessary to be exposed to the language within the age of 8-10. That said, it will still be possible for you to obtain excellent results by suppressing the most evident traces of your native language when speaking Italian. Just follow some simple rules and… enroll in an Italian language course!
1. Speak slowly, speak clearly
Haste, as in any situation, is a bad advisor. If you want to speak Italian like a native, your first goal will be to have control over the sounds you produce. Don’t rush into speaking: take your time to build up a sentence and make sure you pronounce all of it: it is essential that you take the time to clearly produce all the sounds you find in an Italian word or sentence, both as a form of exercise and because in this way, you will train your phonatory system to reproduce phonemes that are possibly new to you. Speak slowly, articulate the words well, and don’t panic!
2. Vowels are important
Vowels, in Italian, are of utter importance both from a morphological point of view, because they mark the difference between singular and plural (or masculine and feminine), and lexically, as changing a vowel can modify the meaning of an entire word. And you need to pronounce all that is written very clearly! Practice pronouncing the “Italian vowel triangle” and then clearly articulating the vowels within the words.
Italian language students at Kappa speaking Italian fluently
3. Sound like a native Italian speaker and roll that “r”
One of the biggest worries for students of the Italian language is the sound /r/, which is rendered with a very pronounced vibration that finds few correspondents in the most widely spoken languages. There are many exercises dedicated to the correct pronunciation of Italian /r/: work hard, and you will see that you will be able to master this sound after a short time!
4. Beware of accents and intonation!
Italian is a language in which the accent is mainly intensive (tonic), and its position within a given word is fixed (ie, it does not change according to the sentence structure). It is therefore essential to understand how accents work in the Italian language in order to be able to speak Italian like a native. Keep in mind that a misplaced accent can completely change the meaning of a word! There are some rules, which concern in particular some classes of nouns (for example, nouns that end in -ia like farmacia or malattia, in which the accent regularly falls on the <i>) or the third person of the verb, that can help you – for the rest, you will have to rely on practice. As for intonation, however, keep in mind that Italian syntax does not include a syntactic structure dedicated to questions or exclamations but relies solely on prosody, which you will have to know how to master. To understand the importance of intonation, just try to think about the difference between an innocent question like “hai preso tu il libro?” and an accusation like “hai preso tu il libro!“.
5. Practice with more complex sounds
Yes, practice is vital! This is especially true when dealing with sounds that do not exist in your native language. In Italian, there are some extremely demanding phonemes for a foreign student: the sound <gl> ([ʎ]), which we find in words like figlio or famiglia, is sometimes tricky to render even for some Italians and requires the tongue to be crushed on the palate letting the air flow laterally; the sound <gn> ([ɲ]), is instead similar to the Spanish <ñ> and can put in crisis those who are not used to producing voiced palatal nasals. And always, with regard to sounds, pay attention to double consonants! In the Italian language, all the consonant letters of the alphabet occur in at least one word as double: learning to pronounce an intense consonant can save you from some very embarrassing moments!
Well, now you have your guidelines, but that’s just the beginning of your journey. Enroll now in an Italian language course and start learning how to speak Italian like a native today!