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Talking to native speakers.

Everyone knows it’s the best way to learn a foreign language. But there’s one problem with this method that no one talks about.

If your language skills aren’t good, those native speakers may not want to talk to you.

When you start speaking a foreign language, it’s all mind blanks, silly mistakes and sounding like a 2-year-old. Communication is tricky, which puts a burden on the person you’re talking to. And you know it, which makes you feel awkward.

It’s not you that’s the problem. You have to go through that stage if you want to speak a foreign language.

But you need the right people to practise with. Supportive ones who encourage you to speak and don’t make you feel embarrassed when you get stuck or make mistakes.

The best place to find these people?

The internet.

Over the last few years, I’ve got to a conversational level in quite a few languages by practising with online tutors on a website called italki. In this post, I’ll show you how to do the same.

You’ll learn:

– Why learning with an online tutor is better than moving to the country.
– Tech guide: a step-by-step guide on how to get set up.
– How to prepare for your first lesson.
– Conversation ideas: what to talk about at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
– Lesson tips: how to survive (and enjoy!) your lessons and remember what you learn.

Ready to get fluent in any language without taking off your fluffy socks? Let’s go!

Italki: Why online tutors are better than being in the country

A few years ago, something odd happened.

Just as I was thinking about learning French, by complete coincidence, I ended up moving into an apartment with 2 French guys. The perfect opportunity, I thought. By the end of the year, I’ll be fluent!

Au contraire

Apart from a few cute phrases like “bonne nuit”, they didn’t want to talk to me in French. And I couldn’t blame them. I only knew a few words. Waiting for me to get a sentence out was like waiting for a glass of champagne to evaporate.

So I kept learning bits of French on my own. In Paris a couple of years later, I had the same problem. I’d try to say something in French, but everyone replied in English.

How online tutors solved my problem

At some point, I came across a website called italki, where I could find native French tutors and pay them to talk to me on Skype for a whole hour, which cost around $10.

I had finally found a way to speak French and bypass all the awkwardness. The tutors knew I was a beginner – and I was paying them to help – so the whole thing felt more comfortable. I was free to work through my “sounding like a 2-year-old stage”, without feeling like a burden. As I spoke, my tutors taught me new words and corrected my mistakes.

I stuck with it and ended up being able to speak French.

Not perfectly, but pretty well considering I’ve never lived there. I’ve since passed one of the highest level French exams and now when I go to France, I don’t get Englished anymore because my French is often better than their English. I even got to enjoy a pretty woman moment – the look on my old flatmates’ faces when they heard me speaking fluent French for the first time!

italki was magic for me, so I decided to use it to learn a few other languages too.

With online tutors, learning a language is actually easier from home than it is in the country. When I went to Germany, I had no one to practise with. It felt awkward starting a conversation with a stranger, which I imagined would go something like this:

Me: Hallo, I’m learning German.
Them: OK…. (looks awkward and runs away).

From home, with the focused speaking practice I got with my italki tutors, I learned to have a basic conversation in German in around 3 months.

How to learn a foreign language on italki

The fastest (and most enjoyable way) to learn a language is with regular 1-on-1 speaking practice. Online tutors are perfect because it’s so easy – you can do a lesson whenever suits and from wherever you have an internet connection, which makes it simple to stick to regular lessons.

I’ve teamed up with italki and I couldn’t be happier to recommend them because it will be the best thing you ever do to speak a foreign language. If you book your lesson through any of the links on this page, you’ll get $10 off (which could add up to a free lesson) after your first purchase.

Tech guide: a step-by-step guide to set up your first italki lesson

To get set by watching this quick tutorial on how to use the italki platform.

Find an online tutor with italki - how to get set up - YouTube

  1. Go to italki.com and sign up.
  2. Fill in your details, including which language you’re learning.
  3. Once you get to the main italki screen, you’ll see your profile with your upcoming lessons. At the moment it says 0, so let’s go ahead and set one up!
  4. Click on “find a teacher”
  5. Here, you’ll find filters like “price”, “availability” and “specialities”. Set these to fit in with your budget, schedule and learning goals.  
  6. Explore the teacher profiles and watch the introduction videos to find a teacher you’d enjoy working with.
  7. Click on “book now” and you’ll see their lesson offers.
What’s informal tutoring?

When choosing your lessons, you’ll often see “informal tutoring”, which is a pure conversation class. These kinds of lessons are great value because the tutor doesn’t have to prepare anything beforehand. They just join you on Skype and start chatting.

Booking your first italki lesson

Once you’ve chosen the kind of lesson you’d like, choose the time that suits you and voilà, you’ve just booked your first lesson with an online tutor! Well done – I know it can feel a little intimidating at first, but creating opportunities to practise is the absolute most important thing you can do if you want to learn to speak a language.

Once you’ve finished and confirmed your first lesson, if you signed up though the links on this page, italki will give you $10 for your next lesson.

What’s the difference between professional tutors and community tutors?

When choosing a teacher, you’ll also see a filter called “teacher type” and the option to choose between professional teachers and community tutors. What’s the difference?

Professional Teachers on italki

Professional teachers are qualified teachers vetted by italki – they have to upload their teaching certificate to gain this title. These classes tend to be more like “classic language lessons”. The teacher will take you through a structured course, preparing lessons beforehand and teaching you new grammar and vocabulary during each lesson.

Good for:

1. If you’re a total beginner.
2. You’re not sure where to start and you’d like guidance from an expert.

Click here to find a professional teacher to help you speak a language

Community tutors on italki

Community tutors are native speakers who offer informal tutoring, where the focus is 100% on conversation skills. They’ll give you their undivided attention for an hour while you try to speak and they’ll help by giving you words and corrections you need to get your point across.

Good for:

1. If you’ve already spent some time learning the theory and you feel like you’re going round in circles. You need to put it into practice!
2. You’re happy to take control of your own learning by suggesting topics and activities you’d like to try.
3. You’re on a budget – these classes are usually super good value – sometimes less than $10 per hour.

Click here to find a community tutor to help you speak a language.

If both of those options are out of budget, you can also use italki to find a language partner, which is free – you find a native speaker of the language you’re learning who also wants to learn your native language and you teach each other.

An important tip for finding the right tutor

Feel free to experiment with a few different tutors until you find one you click with. When you find a tutor you get along well with, they end up becoming like friends – you’ll look forward to meeting them and are motivated to keep showing up to your lessons. Here’s an example of me and my Spanish tutor talking about exactly that!

italki online tutor tip: find a tutor you get on with - YouTube

How to prepare for your first lesson

Spending a little time preparing will allow you to focus during the lesson and get as much out of it as possible. In this section, you’ll find some suggestions about how to do just that.

Learn the basic pleasantries

Hello, goodbye, please, sorry and thank you will take you a long way!

Learn basic communication phrases

It’s important to try and speak in the language as much as possible, without switching back into English. Those moments when you’re scrambling for words and it feels like your brain’s exploding – that’s when you learn the most!

To help you do this, learn these phrases to help you keep the conversation going, even when you get stuck.

1. How do you say [+ word you want to say]. e.g. How do you say “book”
2. What does that mean?
3. Sorry, I didn’t understand.
4. Can you repeat please?
5. Can you speak slower please?

In the following posts, you’ll find these phrases in French, Spanish and Italian.

13 Spanish Phrases to Ace Your First Spanish Conversation

6 French Conversation Phrases You Need to Know

6 Essential Conversation Phrases in Italian

If you’re not sure where to find these phrases in the language you’re learning, you could spend the first lesson asking your online tutor to translate them for you (and write them down), so you have them handy for future lessons.

I once did a whole half hour lesson in Slovak on italki with only these phrases. I didn’t even memorise them beforehand, I just stuck them on a post-it on my computer. Here’s a little snippet (apologies for the dodgy sound).

Slovak lesson - YouTube

I couldn’t speak a word of Slovak before the lesson (which is why it was kind of slow and awkward!), but with these phrases, I managed to keep the conversation mostly in Slovak for 30 minutes. I was able to ask for the words I needed, find out what certain words meant, and request the teacher to repeat/speak more slowly. It’s easy to see how persevering with the language in this way can lead to being able to speak the language over time. In fact, this is how I started with all of the languages I speak now!

Start with these basic communication phrases and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re able to speak the language for a whole half hour.

Learn internet phrases

As you’ll be chatting over the internet, it also helps to learn phrases like:

The connection isn’t good.
Can you hear/see me?
I can’t hear/see you.

italki online tutor tip: learn "internet phrases" - YouTube

Learn checking phrases

Michele Thomas once compared learning a foreign language to tennis. When you attempt to say something, sometimes you’ll get it over the net and the listener will understand. But you won’t get it over the net all the time, and that’s ok. If you did, your tutor would be out of a job!

For this reason, it helps to learn some checking phrases, so you can get feedback about whether you said it right or not. Here are some examples of handy phrases to learn so you can check:

– Did I say it right?
– Can you say it like that?

italki online tutor tip: learn "checking phrases" - YouTube

Remember, your tutor is there to help and will be more than happy to answer these kinds of questions.

Handy hint: the best thing about doing lessons on the internet is that you don’t have to worry about mind blanks – you can pin these phrases to your computer and read them when you need them. By force of repetition, you’ll find them rolling off your tongue after the first few lessons.

Conversation ideas: what to talk about at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels Beginner and beyond 1. Simple questions

Before the class, prepare a list of simple questions, like:

Where do you live?
What job do you do?
What are your hobbies?
What’s your favourite food?
What time is it there?

Prepare your own answers to these questions too, so you’ll be able to use them in conversation (you can keep them with you on a piece of paper next to your computer, just in case you get stuck).

When preparing your questions and answers, you can use phrasebooks/websites and even google translate to help – it comes out with some funky things sometimes, but your teacher will be able to help you correct any mistakes during the lesson.

2. About me

Before the lesson, tell your tutor that you’d like to write a simple paragraph with very basic information about yourself – the kind of things people will ask you over and over. You can work on it together in class and then record your teacher reading it aloud. This way you can listen to it and learn it off by heart so you’ll have those answers ready when you get into conversations.

3. Work on your textbook together

How about working through a beginner’s course/textbook with your online tutor? You can work through the chapter at home before the lesson, then talk about the topics together. For example, if the chapter is about eating out, you can learn some useful phrases to describe food and restaurants and practise using them with your online tutor. This will add some much-needed speaking practise to the course, and help them stick in your mind so you can use them in future conversations.

4. Lists

Lists are easy to write and are great conversation starters! Here are some ideas of lists you could write in the language you’re learning:

5 things you like
5 things you hate
3 places you’ve been to
3 things you’ve eaten recently
3 friends in your life
4 films you love
6 places you’d like to visit

The list is endless! (apologies for the pun)

You can send your list to your online tutor before the lesson, or share it with them at the beginning. The conversation that develops from these lists will help you learn valuable phrases for talking about your everyday life.

Beginner tip: When you’re just starting out, little and often is best. I’d suggest starting with half-hour lessons so you don’t get overwhelmed. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to fill that half hour speaking the language!

Intermediate to advanced 1. Elaborated lists

They may seem simple, but lists are great conversation starters, even at intermediate level and beyond. They help you get past the blank page syndrome and give you fun things to talk about in class. At intermediate level and beyond, you can challenge yourself by choosing more complex lists and writing more details. Try writing a page in your notebook about one of the following things:

5 things I noticed today
2 conversation snippets I overheard yesterday
3 bits of gossip I heard this week
2 mistakes I’ve made (and what I learned from them)
3 things I love and hate about my job
3 things I’d change about myself if I could
4 things that make me happy

I’m sure you can think of more along the same lines! During the lesson, you can ask your online tutor to help you correct your mistakes and then start chatting about your list. Here’s an example of one I sent to my teacher in Spanish:

An example of conversation-starter lists I sent to my Spanish teacher: 2 things I saw yesterday and 2 bits of gossip I can tell you (sorry I cut the gossip bit out for privacy reasons!)

If you don’t have time to prepare, you can also find lists of conversation starters online, which make for a fun lesson. Try searching “interesting questions” in the language you’re learning on google, and you should find some good ones. In this video, you can see us chatting about this list of Spanish conversation questions I found on the internet.

italki online tutor tip: find conversation starter questions - YouTube

2. What are you passionate about?

Photography, travel, sport, politics… What do you like to talk about in your native language?  The great thing about intermediate level is that you can start to try discussing these topics in the language you’re learning. To get the conversation started, you can either:

1. Prepare a list of questions (and maybe take notes on how you’d like to answer, so you can learn important vocabulary that will help you speak in the lesson).

2. Find simple content about the topic you like – blog posts, news articles, podcasts, YouTube videos etc. Share it with your tutor so you can both read/listen to it before the lesson, and chat about it together in class.

If you’re learning one of the following languages, these posts are a good place to find resources.

The 38 best Italian learning tools: from beginner to advanced

The 17 best tools for learning French: from beginner to advanced

The 11 best tools for learning Spanish: from beginner to advanced

The 15 best tools for learning Russian: from beginner to advanced

3. Recycling questions

Probably my favourite (and most useful!) activity for conversation classes. Take some words you’ve learned recently and use them to write questions that you’ll discuss during your lesson.

This way, as you chat about your answers you’ll end up saying the new words over and over, which will help them stick in your brain.

italki online tutor tip: write "recycling questions" - YouTube

Here’s the list of the questions I wrote before the lesson. You can see the words I’ve learnt recently underlined at the top and the example question below.

4. Talk about entertainment

Finally, at more advanced levels, you can try reading a book or watching a TV series and discuss each chapter/episode with your tutor. You can also try writing a summary about what you watched/read, so your teacher can help you correct it in class before you start chatting. This will help you learn some useful vocabulary for the conversation.

Handy hint: don’t feel like you have to be super prepared all the time. Often, I forget/don’t have time to do all this stuff – I just rock up unprepared and start trying to chat. Any speaking is always better than no speaking!

During the conversation: how to make the most out of your italki lessons

Here are some things to keep in mind during your lesson:

  1. Chatbox: The Skype chatbox is your friend. If you don’t understand something, or your tutor teaches you a new word, ask them to write it for you in the chat. These will become your notes that you can revise from after the lesson.
  2. Example sentences: When you learn new words, ask your tutor to give you an example sentence. This will allow you to understand how the word is used in sentences and communicate more smoothly.
  3. Prioritise: Don’t try to learn everything. When something new comes up, ask yourself if it’s useful in your life now. If the answer is yes, ask your tutor to type an example sentence in the chatbox so you can remember it later. If not, just let it go for now.
  4. When you say something and you’re not sure if it’s right, check with your tutor. Remember to learn phrases like: Is that right? Do you say it like that? and use them often in class.
  5. Ask your tutor to correct you and thank them when they do. Getting feedback from mistakes is how you learn, so it’s important to make sure that your tutor feels comfortable correcting you, and isn’t worried about offending you.
  6. Don’t..
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Why are some people good at learning languages?

Or not so good?

Is it motivation, memory or experience?

These things can make a difference. But many of the people I know who speak several languages also share certain personality traits that seem to make language learning easier for them.

What are they, and can you cultivate them to learn a language better?

Today’s guest, professor Tim Keeley, is an expert on how personality type and emotions can affect your success in language learning.

In this interview, Tim talks about:

  • Why certain personality types are better – or worse – at learning foreign languages.
  • The tiny, almond-shaped part of your brain that makes a big difference to how you learn.
  • How to develop the character traits that will help you learn a language.
  • Why it’s ok – and normal – to make beginners’ mistakes, even at advanced levels.

As well as knowing a lot about the psychology behind how people learn languages, Tim speaks a baffling number of languages himself (watch the beginning to find out how many!) – if you’re looking for inspiration and practical ideas to boost your language learning, Tim Keeley’s your man.

Can your personality make you good (or bad) at foreign languages? With Professor Tim Keeley - YouTube

To listen to the interview while you’re out and about, you can download the podcast version here.

1. Are you good at bouncing back from tough situations?

How far do you agree with these statements?

  1. It takes me a long time to recover from stressful experiences.
  2. I find that little things often bother me.
  3. I have never been good at coping with negative emotions.

In the first part of the interview, Tim introduces a trait called emotional resilience and how it can help you learn a foreign language.

Click here to learn more about emotional resilience

The science bit: Your brain on stress

Tim gets into the neurobiology of how stress can impact your language learning. What happens in the brains of people who are good (and not so good) at coping with stress?

In this section, you’ll learn about:

  • The amygdala: a little part of your brain that can get you into big trouble!
  • The left prefrontal cortex: the “thinking” part of your brain which keeps the amygdala in check.
  • How the connections between these two parts of the brain can dictate how you respond to stress.

Learn more about how your brain reacts to stress here.

Related post: The Secret Science of Joyful Language Learning

How to become emotionally resilient and learn languages more easily

Good news: with practice, you can cultivate more emotional resilience and become better at learning languages. In this section, Tim gives tips on how to feel calmer when speaking a foreign language, so that more learning can happen.

Click here to hear to learn how to manage stress when speaking a foreign language

2. Can you put yourself in other people’s shoes?

How far do you agree with these statements?

  1. I’m sensitive to the slightest change in a person’s facial expressions.
  2. Before acting, I think things through carefully.
  3. People come to me because I’m understanding of their problems.

In this part of the interview, Tim explains how your ability to identify with people from different cultures can help (or hinder) your attempts to learn a foreign language.

Learn more about emotional sensitivity and its effect on language learning

What happens when we can’t empathise with other people?

Tim introduces a concept called “joint attention” and explains why your ability to connect with others is crucial when it comes to language development.

Click here to learn about why empathy is important for language learning

Find out more about Tim’s work

Here are the links Tim mentioned in the interview

What do you think?

Have you experienced any of the things Tim talked about in this episode? Tell us in the comments!

Related posts

Why so hard? How to learn a second language as an adult

What’s stopping you from speaking a foreign language – and how to fix it

How to learn a language at home (even if you’re really lazy)

How to Learn a Language You Hated In School

32 fun ways to learn a language (that actually work)

The post Does your personality make you good (or bad) at foreign languages? With Professor Tim Keeley appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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Do you know how to say “time” in Italian?

The word “time” can be translated in two different ways in Italian: tempo and volta.

But be careful – these can’t be used interchangeably. Learn the difference between tempo and volta in episode 63 of 5 Minute Italian.

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • Mini Italian lessons + bonus materials delivered to your inbox.
  • Access to the private Facebook group where you can practice chatting in Italian.
  • Invites to free speaking workshops.

If you’d like to join us, click here to become a member of 5 Minute Italian.

Today’s Italian Vocabulary

il tempo vola = time flies

il tempo = time (literally: the time)

vola = flies

Non ho tempo = I don’t have time

Non ho = I don’t have (literally: not, I have)

tempo = time

Tutto il tempo

Tutto = all

il = the

tempo = time

Tempo è denaro = time is money

il tempo = time (“the” time)

è = is

denaro = money

il tempo è un’illusione = time is an illusion

il tempo = time (literally “the time”)

è = is

un’illusione = an illusion.

Una volta = one time/once

Una = one

Volta = time

Due volte = two times/twice

Due = two

Volte = times

La prossima volta = next time

La prossima = next (literally “the next”)

Volta = time

La scorsa volta = last time

La scorsa = the last

Volta = time

Ogni volta = every time

Ogni = every

Volta = time

Molte volte = many times

Molte = Many

Volte = times

Take the quiz

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Tempo vs. Volta: How to say “time” in Italian

Flashcards

Remember the vocabulary from your 5 Minute Italian lessons by downloading the digital flashcard pack.

Transcript

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian, I’m Katie.

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: And today we’re going to talk about the words “tempo” and “volta” in Italian. Now, these can both be translated with the word “time” in English, but in Italian, they represent quite different concepts.

So what’s the difference between “tempo” and “volta”? Before we give you the answer, let’s listen to some example sentences to see if you can figure it out.

M: Yes, here’s a phrase with “tempo”. Il tempo vola.

il tempo = time (literally: the time)

vola = flies

K: Time flies. Any more?

M: Non ho tempo

Non ho = I don’t have

tempo = time

K: I don’t have time. Any more?

M: Tutto il tempo

Tutto = all

il = the

tempo = time

K: All the time

M: il tempo è denaro

il tempo = time (literally “the” time)

è = is

denaro = money

M: il tempo è un’illusione

il tempo = time (literally “the” time)

è = is

un’illusione = an illusion.

K: Time is an illusion.

K: Now let’s listen to phrases with “volta” and see if you can figure out the difference.

M: Una volta

Una = one

Volta = time

K: One time, or once

M: Due volte

Due = two

Volte = times

K: Two times, or twice. And here we see “volte”, which finishes with an “e”. This is the plural of “volta”, because we’re talking about “times”, something that happened more than once.

M: La prossima volta

La prossima = next (literally “the next”)

Volta = time

K: Next time. Any more?

M: La scorsa volta

La scorsa = the last

volta = time

K: Last time

M: Ogni volta

Ogni = every

Volta = time.

M: Molte volte

Molte = Many

Volte = times

K: Many times. And here we see “volte” again, because we’re using “volta” in the plural.

K: So can you guess the difference? Tempo refers to clock time, in the sense of a period of time. Or even in the scientific/philosophical sense of the word, as in “time” is an illusion.

Volta is “time” in the sense of a singular occasion, one time, two times, three times, every time, next time.

One good way to tell them apart, is that “tempo” as in “clock time” is almost always singular. There is only one “clock time”. It’s time in the sense of “time is on my side” in the Rolling Stones song.

K: Time is on my side

“Volta” as in occasion, can often be plural – we can have one time, two times: una volta, due volte etc. Like the “time” in the Cindy Lauper song “time after time”.

So that’s it for today, remember you can practise chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian facebook group, follow the link in the show notes and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. We’d love to see you in there and chat in Italian with you. You can also get bonus materials, like a quiz, flashcards, and see all the phrases for today’s lesson written down by going to  joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 63. Or just follow the link in the show notes.

Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

Get more 5-minute Italian

To get more 5 minute Italian, including lessons delivered to your inbox, access to the private Facebook group and invites to speaking workshops, click here to become a 5 Minute Italian member.

Related episodes

#31: Che ore sono? How to tell the time in Italian

The post #63: Tempo vs. Volta – how to say “time” in Italian appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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Give it to me. I’ll buy it for you.

To say these sentences in Italian, you need a “double object pronoun”. Find out what they are and how to use them in episode 62 of 5 Minute Italian.

#62: Give it to me! Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian - SoundCloud
(983 secs long, 872 plays)Play in SoundCloud

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • Mini Italian lessons + bonus materials delivered to your inbox.
  • Access to the private Facebook group where you can practice chatting in Italian.
  • Invites to free speaking workshops.

If you’d like to join us, click here to become a member of 5 Minute Italian.

Double Object Pronouns in Italian 1. For masculine words, like “il libro” (the book)
Double Object Pronouns for masculine words

it = lo

Example
Me lo

(for me, it)

Me lo compri

You buy it for me (literally: for me, it, you buy)

Te lo

(for you, it)

Te lo compro

I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Glielo

(for him, it)

(for her, it)

(for them, it)

(for you formal*, it)

Glielo compro

I buy it for him (literally: for him, it, I buy)

I buy it for her (literally: for her, it, I buy)

I buy it for them (literally: for them, it, I buy)

I buy it for you* (literally: for you*, it, I buy)

*The formal you, when speaking to people over 40-ish you don’t know very well or in formal situations like work, hotels and restaurants.

Ve lo

(for you plural*, it)

Ve lo compro

I buy it for you* (literally, for you plural, it, I buy)

* the plural “you”, when speaking to two or more people. 

Ce lo

(for us, it)

Ce lo compro

I buy it for us (literally, for us, it, I buy)

2. For feminine words, like “la torta” (the cake)
Double Object Pronouns 

for feminine words

it = la

Example
Me la

(for me, it)

Me la compri

You buy it for me (literally: for me, it, you buy)

Te la

(for you, it)

Te la compro

I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Gliela

(for him, it)

(for her, it)

(for them, it)

(for you formal*, it)

Gliela compro

I buy it for him (literally: for him, it, I buy)

I buy it for her (literally: for her, it, I buy)

I buy it for them (literally: for them, it, I buy)

I buy it for you* (literally: for you*, it, I buy)

*The formal you, when speaking to people over 40-ish you don’t know very

well or in formal situations like work, hotels and restaurants.

Ve la

(for you plural*, it)

Ve la compro

I buy it for you* (literally, for you all, it, I buy)

* the plural “you”, when speaking to more than one person.

Ce la

(for us, it)

Ce la compro

I buy it for us (literally, for us, it, I buy)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Vocabulary

Quel libro, me lo compri? = That book, can you buy it for me? (literally: that book, for me, it, you buy?)

Quel =that

Libro = book

Me = for me

Lo = it

Compri = you buy

Compro = I buy

Lo compro = I buy it. Literally: it, I buy (For masculine things, like “il libro”)

La compro = I buy it. (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ti compro un libro = I buy a book for you (literally: for you, a buy a book)

Te lo compro = I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Me lo compri = You buy it for me (literally: for me, it, you buy)

Me la compri = You buy it for me (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Me lo dai = You give it to me (literally: to me, it, you give)

Me la dai = You give it to me (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Te lo compro = I buy it for you (literally: for you, it, I buy)

Te la compro = I buy it for you (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Te lo do = I give it to you (literally: to you, it, I give)

Te la do = I give it to you (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Glielo compro = I buy it for him/her/them/you formal (literally, for him/her/them/you formal, it, I buy)

Gliela compro = I buy it for him/her/them/you formal (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Glielo do = I give it to him/her/them/you formal (literally, to him/her/them/you formal, it, I give)

Gliela do = I give it to him/her/them/you formal (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ce lo compro = I buy it for us (literally, for us, it, I buy)

Ce la compro = I buy it for us (for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ve lo compro = I buy it for you all/both (literally: for you all/both, it, I buy)

Ve la compro = I buy it for you all/both (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Ve lo do = I give it to you all/both (literally: to you all/both, it, I give)

Ve la do = I give it to you all/both (la = for feminine things, like “la torta”)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Take the quiz

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Give it to me! Double Object Pronouns in Italian

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Flashcards

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Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Transcript

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian, I’m Katie.

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Matteo, quel libro. Me lo compri?

M: OK

K: This is an example of a real sentence that I said to Matteo last week. That book, can you buy it for me?

M:

Quel =that

Libro = book

Me = for me

lo = it

compri = you buy

I wanted to buy a Chinese book for my trip, but it wouldn’t arrive in time, so I asked Matteo if he could get it for me because he has a subscription where he gets stuff delivered faster. And this sentence is the perfect example of what we’re going to learn about today. The “me lo” part.

The official name for these things is “double object pronouns”, but all you need to know is that it’s a combination of words that we use when we want to talk about buying something for someone (buy it for me), doing something for someone (do it for me), or giving something to someone (give it to me). Basically, if you’ve got something and someone in the sentence, you can use these double object pronouns. This will all become clear in this lesson, which is a little bit longer than usual, so that we can explain all the combinations. And you can see everything from this lesson written down by going to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 62.

So let’s start with “it” in Italian. If we’re talking about a masculine thing, with “il”, for example, “il libro”, then we use “lo”. I buy in Italian is…

M: Compro

K: In Italian, we say things backwards: “it, I buy”. So to say I buy it, when talking about a masculine word like book, we’d say:

M: Lo compro

K:  If it was a feminine word, like “la torta”, it becomes “la”. So how would you say “I buy it” if you’re talking about something feminine, like a cake?

M: La compro

K: So far, so good. But what if you want to say “I buy it for you”?  The “for you” part is what we call an indirect pronoun in Italian. If you feel a bit unsure about these, I’d recommend you go back and listen to the last episode 61 – Indirect Pronouns in Italian, the Ultimate Guide, because this will give you a really good foundation for the rest of this lesson. For now, let’s say that in Italian, to say “for you”, we say “ti”. And this goes at the beginning of the sentence. So for example, to say I buy a book for you, we say “for you, I buy a book”

M: Ti compro un libro.

K: But we don’t want to say “a book”. We want to say “it”. This means, instead of a book, we can say “lo”. And this is where things get a bit crazy in Italian. Because when we have “for you” (ti) and “it” (lo), in Italian, we combine them and we get:

M: Te lo compro.

K: Literally, for you, it, I buy. Or in plain English, I buy it for you. When we combine these indirect object pronouns like “ti” or “mi” with “lo”, the “i” becomes “e”. So it becomes “te lo”. “me lo” etc. To complicate matters further, if the “it” is feminine, like “la torta”, the cake, we say “te la”, “me la” etc.

Let’s practise. We’ll go through the main combinations with the words “comprare” (to buy) and “dare” (to give).

To say “you buy” we say “compri”.

K: If we want to say “you buy it for me”, we literally say: for me, it you buy. And we change “mi” to “me”.

M: Me lo compri

K: And if we’re talking about a feminine noun, like “la torta”?

M: Me la compri

K: You give is “dai”, spelt d-a-i. So how would you say “you give it to me?” (to me, it you give)

M: Me lo dai.

K: And if the thing is feminine, like “la torta”

M: Me la dai.

K: I buy is “compro”. For you is “ti”. Can you remember how to say “I buy it for you”? Literally, for you, I buy. Remember to change “ti” to “te”.

M: Te lo compro

K: For feminine words, like “la torta”?

M: Te la compro

K: I give is “do”. So how would you say “I give it to you” (to you, it I give)

M: Te lo do.

K: For feminine nouns?

M: Te la do.

K: Perfect. Now, I’ve got some bad news and some good news. The next one is a little complicated, but you can use it in loads of different situations, so once you learn it, you can use it all the time. To say “for him”, we say “gli”, spelt “g-l-i”. Pronounced by making a big smile and squashing the top of your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, gli. Now, when we combine “for him” (gli) with “it” (lo) we add an e on the end of gli, so we get “g-l-i” = gli plus e. glie. Then we attach “lo” to the end.

M: glie lo

K: So to say “I buy it for him” (for him, it I buy”) we say:

M: Glielo compro.

K: If it’s feminine?

M: Gliela compro

K: And I give it to him?

M: Glielo do

K: If it’s feminine?

M: Gliela do.

K: I think this is probably one of the hardest words to pronounce and understand grammatically in the Italian language, so don’t worry if you find it tricky at first! With practice it will come. Now, that’s the complicated bit done. It’s about to get a lot simpler. Because in Italian, “glielo”, can be used for “him”, “her”, “them” and “you” in the formal address. You get 4-in-one.  So to say “I buy it for her”, we say:

M: Glielo compro

K: I buy it for them?

M: Glielo compro

K: I buy it for you, if you’re talking to someone using formal address?

M: Glielo compro.

K: Now the feminine version, for words like “la torta”. I buy it for her

M: Gliela compro

K: I buy it for them?

M: Gliela compro.

K: I buy it for you (formal address?)

M: Gliela compro.

K: Let’s try now with I give (do). Talking about masculine things, like “il libro”.

K: I give it to her?

M: Glielo do

K: I give it to them?

M: Glielo do

K: I give it to you (formal)?

M: Glielo do.

K: And with feminine things, like “la torta”? I give it to her.

M: Gliela do

K: I give it to them?

M: Gliela do.

K: I give it to you formal?

M: Gliela do.

K: So we’re nearly there, just a couple more combos to go. To say “for us”, we say “ci”. In a double object pronoun, ci becomes “ce”. So how would you say “I buy it for us”?

M: Ce lo compro.

K: And if we’re talking about a feminine word, like “torta”?

M: Ce la compro

K: Finally, in Italian, we have a plural word for you, when we’re speaking to two or more people, a bit like saying “you both” or “you all”. To say, for you all or you both, we say “vi”. In a double object pronoun, this becomes “ve”. So how would you say “I buy it for you” to a group of two or more people?

M: Ve lo compro.

K: And if the thing is feminine, like “la torta”?

M: Ve la compro.

K: And what about “I give it to you”. Literally “to you plural, it, I give.

M: Ve lo do

K: And if it’s feminine, like “la torta”, we say:

K: Ve la do

Phew! We sweated today! Well done for getting to the end, and do bear in mind that this is one of the trickiest parts of Italian grammar, that causes people problems right up to advanced levels. So don’t worry at all if it feels confusing at first, it is complicated, it’s not you, it’s the grammar! Try to notice these combinations being used as much as you can, keep practising and over time it will come.

Remember, if you want to see these written down in a table, which I think is especially useful for today’s lesson, you can find these and get bonus materials by heading over to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 62. Or just follow the link in the show notes for this episode. You can also practice chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian Facebook group – click on join and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

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Related episodes

#61: Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: The Ultimate Guide

#5: How to pronounce the Italian “gli” like in famiglia

The post #62: Give it to me! Double object pronouns in Italian appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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Guest Post by Kerstin from Fluent Language

The school subjects you hated leave scars.

I have so often told new people that I work with languages and I teach German, just to hear them say “God, I was terrible at languages in school. My German teacher was boring, and all that grammar made me fall asleep. Never again!”

Never again. Really?

Now I admit that languages did not throw me in school. Loved them. But I was so bad at sports. I would huff and sweat under duress, throw a tantrum over running, miserably sit on the bench until there was no one else left to pick for a team.

My school experience was awful and knocked my confidence a lot. But something changed when I became an adult. I slowly realised that a life lived with sports is a better life for me. Starting with a tentative jog, via aerobics and step classes and dance, I learnt what it’s like to exercise outside school. And guess what? I enjoyed it! These days I’m no Olympic athlete, but I can do a decent 5k run most weeks.

I believe that it’s never too late to start learning something cool, and there’s no law that says your school experience should influence what you do or who you are.

Maybe you dream of visiting Berlin or living in a French country house, or you want to travel to Austria to ski in the Alps, or Italy to spend a week with sun and gelato. And you know that these experiences get richer and better if you can speak the local language.

I guarantee you right now that you never need to go back to school to study up for the German grammar exam again. Not if you don’t want to.

So maybe…you can imagine giving languages another chance?

Here are a few ideas to help you overcome bad school memories and learn a language as an adult.

What’s YOUR Point In Learning This Language?

Back in school, you probably ended up in your language classes because someone else decided that it was a good idea. They also decided what you would be learning in which order, and how the tests would look.

But now that you’re coming back to languages as an adult learner, the tables have turned. It’s down to you to make the rules. You’ve got the power!

In practice, this means that you’ll have to learn a few new skills about staying organised and keeping your motivation up. The first step is to make a note of your big goal. Remember: Back in school, you might have wondered “what’s the point of learning a language?”. But now you know, and you can use that to help you get started.

Here are a few questions to help you work out your personal “why”:

  • What do you love about the country or culture of the language you’re studying?
  • Who inspires you to want to try and learn languages?
  • Where will you practice your language?
  • What do you most want to talk about in your new language?
  • How will you feel when you’ve achieved this goal?

The great thing about answering a few of these questions is that it gives you a big hint towards the next step, which is this:

Make The World’s Greatest Curriculum

You’re in charge now, so you get to decide what it is that you learn.

Don’t know anyone who cares that you have 2 sisters and a cousin named Barry? Great, skip that for now.

Wanna cut straight to your obsession with microbreweries in Hamburg? Perfect, you can study the vocabulary for that first.

One of the most important rules of learning a language you hated in school is to focus on finding things that are enjoyable. I know people who have learnt lots of vocabulary and grammar playing video games, reading short stories, going out for dance classes.

In fact, my course German Uncovered totally flips the traditional model on its head and teaches you the German language through the power of story. So first you read and understand something cool, and then the other parts fall into place.

Purge Those Bad Memories

For most adult language learners, it’s hard to imagine that learning a language like German could ever be fun.

Sit down with a piece of paper, think back to those horrible school classes for 10 seconds, then start writing down everything you remember hating about that class and that language.

So now you know what you hated, you can change things.

If there was too much grammar in play, then select a course that doesn’t test you on grammar and instead focuses on understanding. For example, a reading system like Lingq or a story-based course like German Uncovered can give you a new way of experiencing languages.

If you thought the lessons weren’t relevant, make sure you take charge of your own curriculum and take the freedom to study what you’re interested in.

If you hated the sound of a language, see if you can find romantic poems or your favourite style of music sung in it.

If you hated the classroom environment, then there is no need to go back. Look for an online tutor, join a language learning trip, or see if you can buy someone local a coffee in exchange for chatting to you in their language.

Often, what you remember is something that you can change now that you’re learning solo. There’s no exam panic, and Mr Tudmore won’t set you 12 pages of dull homework.

Choose Your Teacher

Now that you’re a solo language learner, you’re able to select the best teachers you can find. Look around to see who delivers online lessons, who might teach in a nice café, or who might be using fun methods like stories, puppets, or music.

Independent language teachers adore the freedom to put creativity into their lessons, and they want to hear what you are looking for. For example, I regularly host language retreats and those are all about creating a relaxed study environment – with snacks!

Recycle Your School Memories

Having dealt with all of the bad memories, it’s worth asking yourself whether there is anything useful that you do remember from your school days.

In my German courses, I often come across “false beginners”. These are people who are in the early stages of learning German in terms of a skill scale, but it’s not their first rodeo. As a false beginner, you’ve got a headstart already: For example, you know how to pronounce the words you see or you can remember the basics of grammar.

Choose Freedom

Do you see a theme here? You’ve got the power! As a solo language learner, you can finally immerse yourself in a world of interesting materials at your level.

The key is to find the fun in language learning and bring it together with sensible methods of setting goals, tracking, and reviewing.

When I teach German now, my methods are focused on the goal of making the experience great for my students through courses like German Uncovered or language retreats where relaxation comes first, way before correcting anyone’s grammar.

I hope you’re feeling inspired to open up the door to another language once again. Perhaps you’re a “language person” after all?

The post How to Learn a Language You Hated In School appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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Gli, le, mi, ti….

These little words are everywhere in Italian and they can be a bit tricky – it’s not always easy to know what they mean and how to use them. Today’s lesson will clear up the mystery so that you can understand and use them yourself in conversation. Find out more in episode 61 of 5 Minute Italian.

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

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Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian
Object Pronoun Example
Mi (to/for me) Mi dai questo

You give this to me (literally: to me, you give this)

Mi compri questo

You buy this for me (literally: for me, you buy this)

Ti (to/for you) Ti do questo

I give this to you (literally: to you, I give this)

Ti compro questo

I buy this for you (literally: for you, I buy this)

Vi (to/for you – plural)

Use “vi” when you speak to two or more people.

Vi do questo

I give this to you – plural (literally: to you, I give this)

Vi compro questo

I buy this for you – plural (literally: for you, I buy this)

Gli (to/for him)

Gli (to/for them)

Gli do questo

I give this to you/them (literally: to you/them, I give this)

Gli compro questo

I buy this for you/them (literally: for you/them, I buy this)

Le (to/for her) Le do questo

I give this to her (literally: to her, I give this)

Le compro questo

I buy this for her (literally: for her, I buy this)

Ci (to/for us) Ci dai questo

You give this to us (literally: to us, you give this)

Ci compri questo

You buy this for us (literally: for us, you buy this)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Vocabulary

Mi = to me/for me

Ti = to you/for you

Gli = to him/for him

Le = to her/for her

Ci = to us/for us

Vi = to you/for you (plural “you”, when speaking to two or more people)

Gli = to them/for them

Do = I give

Questo = this

Ti = to you/for you

Ti do questo = I give this to you

Compro questo = I buy this

Ti compro questo = I buy this for you

Vi = To you/for you (plural – when speaking to two or more people)

Vi do questo = I give this to you (plural)

Vi compro questo = I buy this for you (plural)

Gli = to him/for him

Gli do questo = I give this to him

Gli compro questo = I buy this for him

Gli = to them/for them

Gli do questo = I give this to them

Gli compro questo = I buy this for them

Le = to her/for her

Le do questo = I give this to her

Le compro questo = I buy this for her

Mi = to me/for me

Mi fai questo = you do this to me

Perché mi fai questo?! = Why are you doing this to me?

Perché = why

Mi = to me

Fai = you do

Questo = this

Ci = to us/for us

Ci fai questo = you do this to us

Perché ci fai questo? = Why are you doing this to us?

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Take the quiz

How much did you learn? Find out in the 5-minute Italian quiz!

Click here to take the quiz for this episode: Italian Object Pronouns – The Ultimate Guide (Quiz)

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Flashcards

Remember the vocabulary from your 5 Minute Italian lessons by downloading the digital flashcard pack.

Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: Transcript

Please note, this is not a word for word transcript.

Katie: Ciao a tutti e benvenuti a 5 Minute Italian, I’m Katie.

M: And I’m Matteo. Ciao! 

K: Today, we’re going to reopen a big can of worms and talk about indirect object pronouns in Italian. If you’re thinking “a what now”, “indirect object pronoun” is just the name of those little words like “mi” “ti”, “gli” and “le” that you may see floating around. They can cause lots of problems when you’re learning Italian because it’s sometimes tricky to know where they come from and how to use them.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to go through them really clearly, step by step, so by the end, you’ll be able to recognise them and use them yourself in conversation. Remember, if you want to see these words written down and get bonus materials like quizzes, you can get the notes for this episode at joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scroll to episode 61.

M: Comminciamo! Let’s start.

K: An indirect object pronoun in Italian is just a fancy way of saying “to someone” or “for someone”. So for example, if I say “I give this to you”. The “to you” bit would be the indirect object pronoun in Italian. Similarly, if we say “I buy this for you”, the “for you” bit would be the indirect object in Italian. The indirect object pronouns in Italian are:

Matteo:

Mi – to me/for me

Ti – to you/for you

Gli – to him/for him

Le – to her/for her

Ci – to us/for us

Vi – to you/for you (plural “you”, when speaking to two or more people)

Gli – to them/for them

K: You’ll find a table of these over on our website joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast episode 61. For now, let’s practise using these in some sentences. How would you say “I give this to you” in Italian?

M: “I give” is “do”. “This” is “questo”. I give this is “do questo”.

K: Now, we need the “to you” bit. Can you remember how to say “to you” or “for you” in Italian?

M: Ti.

K: In Italian, we put this at the beginning of the sentence, so we literally say “to you” I give this. How would you say that?

M: Ti do questo.

K: Great. I buy this is “compro questo”. So how would you say “I buy this for you”? Literally “for you, I buy this”

M: Ti compro questo.

K: Next, in Italian we have the “you plural”, for when we speak to two or more people. It’s a bit like saying “to you both” or “to you all”. So to say “to you” or “for you” to two or more people, we say:

M: Vi.

K: So how would you say “I give you this” to two or more people? Literally, “to you, I give this”

M: Vi do questo

K: And how would you say “I buy this for you” to two or more people? Literally, “for you, I buy this”

M: Vi compro questo.

K: Now let’s try with “to him” can you remember how to say “to or for him” in Italian?

M: Gli.

K: So how would you say “I give him this”? Literally “to him, I give this”.

M: Gli do questo

K: I buy this we know is “compro questo”. So how would you say “I buy this for him” literally “for him, I buy this”

M: Gli compro questo.

K: Now let’s try with “them”. Can you remember how to say “to them” or “for them” in Italian? It’s actually the same as “to him” or “for him”

M: Gli

K: So how would you say “I give this to them”? (To them, I give this)

M: Gli do questo.

K: What about “I buy this for them”? (For them, I buy this)

M: Gli compro questo.

K: And how do you say “to her/for her”?

M: Le

K: So how would you say “I give her this”? Literally “to her, I give this”

M: Le do questo.

K: And what about “I buy this for her” (for her, I buy this)

M: Le compro questo.

K: And if you’d like more practise with “gli” and “le”, you can also go back and listen to episodes 56 – 58.

K: Next, we know that “to me” or “for me” is:

M: Mi

K: Same as in English, but spelt mi. You do is “fai”. So how would you say “you do this to me” in Italian? Literally “to me, you do this”.

M: Mi fai questo.

K: Great, and in Italian, a sentence you hear quite often is “perché mi fai questo?!” Which is “why are you doing this to me?” Literally:

M:

Perché = why

Mi = to me

Fai = you do

Questo = this

K: Finally, can you remember how to say “to us” or “for us” in Italian?

M: Ci

K: So how would you say “you do this to us?” (to us, you do this).

M: Ci fai questo.

K: And how would you say “Why are you doing this to us?” (why, to us, you do this)

M: Perché ci fai questo?

That’s it from us for now, to practise using what you learnt today, you can get bonus materials including transcripts, quizzes and flashcards by going to joyoflanguages.com/italianpodcast and scrolling down to episode 61. Or just follow the link in the show notes for this episode. You can also practice chatting in Italian with us in our 5 Minute Italian Facebook group – click on join and we’ll let you in as soon as we see your request. Ciao for now, see you next time or as we say in Italian,

M: Alla prossima!

Get more 5-minute Italian

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Related episodes

#56: How to use gli in Italian (to him, for him)

#57: How to use gli in Italian (to them, for them)

#58: How to use le in Italian (to her, for her)

The post #61: Indirect Object Pronouns in Italian: The Ultimate Guide appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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Having a conversation in Spanish can feel scary at first.

There are so many things that could go wrong!

  1. You forget a word or some grammar mid-sentence.
  2. You don’t understand what they said to you.
  3. They reply in English!
  4. You’re not sure what to say.

When you start speaking Spanish, these little communication breakdowns are a normal part of the learning process.

But if you’re smart, you can turn these seemingly tricky moments into opportunities to learn more, by using a few strategic Spanish phrases. 

In this post, you’ll learn 13 Spanish phrases to help you:

  • Keep the conversation going in Spanish, even if you forget a word or don’t understand.
  • Learn more Spanish words.
  • Stop people from replying in English.
  • Strike up a conversation with native Spanish speakers.

You’ll also pick up tips on where to find Spanish speakers to practise with.

Smart Spanish Phrases Help you Keep the Conversation Going

Imagine this.

You walk into a panadería (bakery) and see a tasty pastry, but you’re not sure what it’s called. You have two options. You can:

  1. Point and say: “one of those please”.
  2. Point and say: “Cómo se dice eso en español? (how do you say that in Spanish?)

The first phrase will keep you stuck in touristville.

Option 2 will help you strike up a conversation with a Spanish speaker and learn a new Spanish word at the same time.  Most Spanish speakers will welcome this kind of curiosity – once you start a conversation like this, you’ll probably end up chatting for a little longer, giving you a friendly way to keep practising your Spanish.

The more you use Spanish phrases like this, the longer you can keep the conversation going. And the longer you can keep the conversation going, the better you’ll get at speaking Spanish.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with Juan from Easy Spanish (a fab YouTube channel for Spanish learners) to bring you 13 essential Spanish phrases.

In the next section, you’ll find a video tutorial with 6 Spanish phrases to help you get unstuck and communicate better in Spanish.

Then, you’ll find 7 basic Spanish phrases for everyday conversations. For this part, Juan went out onto the streets of Mexico and posed simple questions to passers-by. In this video, you’ll hear Spanish small talk questions being used in a natural way and learn to understand the replies you might get from native speakers.

Of course, you’ll also need Spanish speakers to practise with – the last section will help you find them.

To make sure you remember the 13 Spanish phrases, you’ll also find a PDF cheatsheet that you can print off and take with you.

6 Spanish phrases to keep the conversation going

6 Spanish Phrases to Ace Your First Spanish Conversation - YouTube

Learn these phrases by heart so you can drop them into the conversation when you need them. Get the PDF here: 13 Essential Spanish Phrases PDF.

Spanish Phrase 1: ¿Cómo se dice… en español? 

How do you say… in Spanish? (Literally: How does one say … in Spanish)

To be used when you’re speaking Spanish, but you get stuck because you don’t know – or forget – a word.

In the video, Juan used the example of “tree” (¿Cómo se dice “tree” en español?) – you can just replace “tree” with any word you need to know.

You can also point and say: ¿Cómo se dice eso en español? (how do you say that in Spanish?)

Spanish Phrase 2: ¿Qué significa eso?

What does that mean? 

To be used when you hear or see a word you don’t understand. It’s especially useful in restaurants – just point to the word on the menu and ask the waiter!

When you ask this question in Spanish, you’ll be more likely to get an answer in Spanish, which will help you keep the conversation going. But even if they use English to give you the definition, it’s still a good way to show your conversation partner that you’re making an effort to speak Spanish. This makes it easier to go back to Spanish once you get unstuck.

Spanish Phrase 3: Lo siento, no entendí

Sorry, I didn’t understand. 

A word of warning: try not to use this phrase in isolation because Spanish people may interpret it as a cry for help and switch back to English. Be sure you follow it up with another Spanish phrase, like:

¿Puedes repetirlo, por favor? Can you repeat please?

¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor? Can you speak slower please?

When you use these phrases, the person you’re talking will know exactly how to help you, so they’ll be less likely to jump in and use English.

You can also say: “Disculpa, no entiendo” – sorry, I don’t understand. In situations where the formal version would be more appropriate (such as a hotel reception) say “Disculpe, no entiendo.”

Spanish Phrase 4: ¿Puedes repetirlo, por favor?

Can you repeat, please? (Literally: can you repeat it, please?)

When you just need to hear the phrase again. In formal situations, you can ask: “Podría repetirlo, por favor?” Could you repeat please?

If they repeat and you’re still having trouble understanding, try to identify the problem and ask another question:

  • Speaking too fast? Ask: “¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor?” – Can you speak slower, please?
  • A word you don’t recognise? Ask: ¿Qué significa eso? – What does that mean?
Spanish Phrase 5: ¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor?

Can you speak slower, please? 

For those times when the Spanish speaker is going at 100mph and you’re struggling to keep up!

A more formal version of this phrase is: ¿Podría hablar más despacio, por favor? – Could you speak more slowly please?

Spanish Phrase 6: ¿Podemos hablar en español, por favor?

Can we speak in Spanish, please?

This phrase is perfect for those frustrating moments when you manage to say something in Spanish, but they reply in English!

If the person seems friendly (and not too busy), simply explain that you’re learning and ask if they would speak Spanish with you. With this phrase, you’ll find that many people are happy to chat to you for a little while in Spanish.

A more formal version of this phrase is: ¿Podríamos hablar en español, por favor? – Could we speak in Spanish please?

7 Basic Spanish Phrases for Everyday Conversations

Now you’ve learnt a few key phrases to help you communicate, time for some Spanish phrases to get the conversations started! In this video, Juan went out onto the streets of Mexico and asked some simple small talk questions.

BASIC CONVERSATIONAL PHRASES IN SPANISH | Easy Spanish 132 - YouTube

To make the most out of Juan’s video for learning Spanish, check out this post: 5 smart ways to learn a language by watching TV and films.

In the meantime, let’s look at some of the phrases Juan used to start everyday conversations in Spanish. You can download a PDF with these phrases here: 13 Essential Spanish Phrases PDF.

Spanish Phrase 7: Hola ¿cómo estás?

Hello, how are you? 

Spanish Phrase 8: ¿Cuál es tu nombre?

What’s your name?

Alternatively, you can ask: “¿Cómo te llamas?” – What are you called? 

Spanish Phrase 9: Mucho gusto

Pleased to meet you

You can also say: “Encantado” or “Un placer”

Spanish Phrase 10: ¿Qué hiciste hoy?

What did you do today?

Alternatively, if you want to ask someone what they’re going to do in the future, you can say: “¿Qué vas a hacer?”.

Spanish Phrase 11: ¿Qué me recomiendas…?

What do you recommend….

Great for getting recommendations from the locals for places to eat and visit etc. You can ask: ¿Qué me recomiendas comer por aquí? What do you recommend to eat around here?

If you’re speaking to a group (2 or more people) say: “¿Qué me recomiendan…?” 

Spanish Phrase 12: ¿Qué se te antoja hacer…?

What do you feel like doing?

Spanish Phrase 13: Hasta luego

See you later! Other Spanish phrases you can use when you’re leaving include: “Ten una linda noche” – have a nice night and “Cuídate” – take care. 

13 Spanish Phrases to ace your first conversation

Let’s quickly review our 13 Spanish phrases.

  1. ¿Cómo se dice… en español? How do you say … in Spanish?
  2. ¿Qué significa eso? What does that mean?
  3. Lo siento, no entendí. Sorry, I didn’t understand.
  4. ¿Puedes repetirlo, por favor? Can you repeat please?
  5. ¿Puedes hablar más lento, por favor? Can you speak slower, please?
  6. ¿Podemos hablar en español, por favor? Can we speak in Spanish, please?
  7. Hola ¿cómo estás? Hello, how are you?
  8. ¿Cuál es tu nombre? What’s your name?
  9. Mucho gusto. Pleased to meet you
  10. ¿Qué hiciste hoy? What did you do today?
  11. ¿Qué me recomiendas…? What do you recommend…?
  12. ¿Qué se te antoja hacer…? What do you feel like doing?
  13. Hasta luego. See you later.

Next, it’s time to practise using them!

Where can I find Spanish people to talk to?

If you’re one of those people who feels confident enough to walk up to Spanish speakers and start talking, ¡muy bien!

But this approach doesn’t work for lots of people.

It can be tricky to speak Spanish with people you meet randomly (in shops, restaurants or on the train) because these people are just going about their day – they’re not there to help you learn Spanish. This puts unnecessary pressure on you to be able to have a normal conversation.

A great (non scary) way to practise speaking Spanish is to set up a “learning agreement” with Spanish speakers. These are situations where the Spanish speaker knows you’re learning and has agreed to help you. This could be:

  1. A language exchange partner: Find a Spanish person who’s learning your native language – they can help you practice speaking Spanish while you help them speak your native language.
  2. A conversation tutor: Meet a native Spanish speaker (online or in person) for conversation practice and pay them in exchange for their time.

These options take the pressure off because you’re giving the Spanish speaker something in return for their time so you don’t need to feel embarrassed if the conversation is a bit stilted (totally normal at first!)

Also, they know you’re learning, so they’re expecting you to speak slowly and make mistakes. You can even take some tools with you to make the conversation easier, such as a notebook, a dictionary app on your phone and this Spanish phrases cheatsheet.

Related Post: The simplest way to get over your fear of speaking a foreign language

So where can you find some lovely Spanish speakers to chat with?

Online

The best place to find native Spanish speakers online is italki. Here, you can book 1-to-1 conversation lessons with lovely native speaker tutors – called community tutors. They are usually pretty good value (often less than $10 an hour).

If you fancy giving it a go, here’s a $10 voucher to use after you book your first lesson here:

Click here to find a tutor on italki and get $10 off

italki: Learn any Foreign Language with a Native Professional Teacher - YouTube

If you find it hard to practice Spanish because you’re busy, this is a great option – you can squeeze a lesson in whenever you have a spare 30 minutes, from wherever you are (all you need is an Internet connection).

Alternatively, if lessons are too expensive for you at the moment, you can also use italki to set up an online language exchange with a Spanish speaker.

Face to Face

If you’d prefer to connect with Spanish speakers face to face, you can set up an in-person language exchange, at a café or pub near you. Here are a couple of tools that will help you find Spanish speakers in your area.

Tandem 
Conversation Exchange

One word of advice – when doing language exchanges, be sure to divide the time equally (e.g. 30 minutes in each language) and be strict about sticking to it so that you both get a fair chance to practice. Remember to ask:

Podemos hablar en español, por favor? (Can we speak in Spanish please?)

If you’re planning on travelling to a country where Spanish is spoken, you can use these tools to meet the locals. By setting up language exchanges in the places you visit, you’ll get to practise speaking Spanish with natives who can show you their favourite spots – a Spanish teacher and local tour guide rolled into one!

What about you?

Can you add any other handy Spanish phrases to the list? Let us know in the comments!

You might like these too…

The post 13 Spanish Phrases to Ace Your First Spanish Conversation appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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You know those “Giovanni checks into a hotel” style dialogues you find in most Italian textbooks?

They’re ok if you want to pick up a few polite phrases for travelling. But not so great if you want to actually have conversations with Italians.

Why?

Firstly, they’re not very exciting, so it takes a lot of willpower to use them consistently. And perhaps more importantly, because Italians don’t talk like that in real life.

If you want to understand Italians – and talk like them – the best way is to practise listening to Italians talking in real situations.

Luckily, in 2019 you don’t need to go to Italy to do it. You can create your own little immersion by watching Italian YouTube channels (and go down the YouTube rabbit hole guilt-free because you’re learning Italian at the same time!)

Why you should watch Italian YouTube channels to learn Italian

With Italian YouTube channels, you can listen to people speaking natural Italian, which is perfect for training yourself to understand Italian conversations.

Also, as they’re real human beings, they’re interesting to watch – they can get quite addictive which is great for your Italian!

Finally, many of them come with Italian subtitles, an invaluable resource for going deeper into your Italian study. Native speakers don’t come with subtitles in real life but YouTube is the next best thing – once you’ve listened, you can go back and read the Italian subtitles to look up new words and grammar points.

Some channels also have subtitles in both Italian and English so you can switch between the two and check that you’ve understood. If you need a little help finding the subtitles, there’s a mini-tutorial on how to use YouTube subtitles in different languages at the end of this post.

Once you’ve got subtitles on YouTube, there are tons of different activities you can do to get the most out of the video and learn loads of Italian. For some ideas about how to use these videos to improve your Italian skills, check out in this post with 5 smart ways to learn a language by watching TV and films:

But first, let’s get into the best Italian YouTube channels to help you learn Italian.

Italian YouTube Channels for Beginners Italy Made Easy

Manu is a native Italian based in Australia. In his videos, he explains concepts clearly and has a great understanding of the kinds of problems you’re likely to come up against when you start learning Italian. He’s also a polyglot (he speaks several foreign languages himself) and gives tips on how to learn Italian.

Although he’s in our beginner section, Manu has videos that go right up to advanced level, so you can keep learning with him as your Italian gets better.

He also has a great series of slow videos (with subtitles in Italian) so you can ease yourself into to listening to real spoken Italian.

Italian Pod101

Italian Pod101 is great for picking up some basics. Importantly, they give lots of natural examples so you can see how to use the words and phrases in real life.

Get Started with Italian Like a Boss! - Learn Italian in 30 Minutes - YouTube

One World Italiano

Veronica is the bubbly Italian teacher behind One World Italiano. Her videos are entirely in Italian so they’re towards the more difficult end of our beginner section, but she speaks in a slow and clear style. If you struggle to understand the audio, you can use the Italian subtitles to read along and look up any words you don’t know. The One World Italiano channel has a variety of levels, so you can start with the beginner videos and work your way up.

LearnAmo

On the LearnAmo channel, you’ll find mini-tutorials on Italian grammar, culture, expressions and commonly confused words. LearnAmo’s videos are 100% in Italian, so they’re not for complete beginners, however, they talk clearly, which makes them perfect for making your first steps into listening to natural Italian. Some videos have subtitles in both English and Italian, so you can listen in Italian first then switch to English to check your understanding.

Impara i NUMERI in ITALIANO: Come si formano? Quali sono? + Espressione: DARE I NUMERI 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣ - YouTube

Italian YouTube Channels for Intermediate Learners Easy Languages

On the Easy Languages YouTube channel, we go out onto the streets of Italy and pose questions to passers-by. It’s a great way to get up close to Italian culture and get used to hearing natives speak in a natural and spontaneous way.

To help you follow along, there are big subtitles in Italian and smaller ones in English. Quick tip: try covering the English subtitles with a piece of paper while you listen the first few times, so you can get used to figuring out the meaning from the Italian.

There are loads more activities you can do with these dual-language subtitles to help you learn Italian faster. Check out this post for ideas on how to use YouTube videos to learn Italian.

What foreigners think of Italians | Easy Italian 10 - YouTube

Your Italian Teacher

With her calm and clear teaching style, Valeria of Your Italian Teacher makes mini-tutorial videos on Italian grammar, vocabulary, and phrases. She speaks Italian at a natural pace, which is great for training your listening. The majority of her videos focus on native-sounding phrases and details that foreign students often get wrong, so they’re perfect for refining your Italian once you can already speak it at a basic level.

Learn Italian: modi di dire con "mano" - YouTube

Lucrezia Oddone

Rome-based Lucrezia Oddone’s love for her native language is contagious! On her YouTube channel, you’ll find grammar tips, handy phrases, Q&As and language learning tips. Her vlogs are especially lovely to watch because she brings you out onto the streets of Italy – it’s almost like being there yourself!

Most of Lucrezia’s videos are entirely in Italian so it’s great for getting the immersion experience. She usually adds manual subtitles to her videos so you can be sure that you’re reading correct Italian, without having to have to worry about the confusing mistakes that can sometimes pop up in the autogenerated ones.

Top 3 mistakes to avoid when you write in Italian (IT audio) - YouTube

Italiano Automatico

Alberto from Italian Automatico set up his YouTube channel for “people who already have some knowledge about grammar and vocabulary but they can’t speak well, or they can’t speak at all…” He creates super interesting videos in Italian with the help of a special guest, his lovely nonna! His unique approach to learning Italian is focused on listening and speaking without obsessing over the grammar, which is something I can totally get on board with.

Related post: Why so hard? How to learn a second language as an adult

At the time of writing, he already has a library of 503 videos, including a playlist of videos with Italian subtitles. Time for an Italiano Automatico YouTube binge!

Italian YouTube Channels for Advanced Learners

Now you’re at an advanced level, you can kick back and watch videos for native speakers. You’ll probably still come across bits and pieces that are tricky to understand (still happens to me and I’ve been living in Italy for over 6 years!). For this reason, here you’ll find 6 Italian YouTube channels with subtitles, so you can go back and read any bits you miss.

Sgrammaticando

Fiorella from Sgrammaticando started her YouTube channel to clarify grammar points for Italians (yep, even Italians need help with their own grammar sometimes!), but as her channel grew, she realised that she also had lots of Italian learners in her audience. In her fun and friendly style, she answers FAQs and gives tutorials to help both Italians and Italian learners avoid common mistakes and “defend themselves” from the common traps of the Italian language.

She’s also written a book on the same topic, so if you want to refine your Italian by correcting common grammar mistakes, Fiorella’s your girl!

10 MODI per CHIEDERE SCUSA - YouTube

Fan Page

With over 1 million subscribers, Fan Page is one of the most popular YouTube channels in Italy. Here you’ll find social commentaries, interviews, investigative journalism, and pranks. One of the things that makes Fan Page so popular is their ability to show current affairs and Italian culture with a personal touch  – like this “letter from Neapolitans to migrants in difficulty.”

Le lettere dei napoletani ai migranti in difficoltà - YouTube

Or this reportage on the meeting between vice-president Salvini and Gino Sorbillo, a famous pizza chef who has spoken out against Salvini’s right wing policies.

Salvini incontra Sorbillo dopo la bomba alla pizzeria: "Mi ha mostrato solidarietà" - YouTube

Wild at Earth

In her fun travel channel, Italian globetrotter Mery takes you around the world and documents her experiences in her native language. In addition to classic travel guides, she talks about interesting challenges she faces while travelling, such as living in a 14 square meter apartment.

Vivere a TOKYO, Giappone in 14 m² - appartamento TOUR e COSTI - YouTube

Luca Lampariello

Luca Lampariello is an Italian polyglot who gives advice on how to learn a language on his popular YouTube channel. A few of his videos are in his native language, so you can pick up tips on how to learn a language and practise your Italian listening at the same time!

Accento madrelingua - 1/4 - YouTube

The Jackal

People often say that if you can understand humor in the language you’re learning, you know the language well. In that case, you can put your Italian to the test by watching the Jackal – probably the most popular alternative comedy YouTube channel in Italy.

Some of their videos have subtitles in both Italian and English, which means you can start with Italian and switch to English every now and then, just to make sure you’ve understood everything. And they have lovely Neapolitan accents – perfect for getting some exposure to regional varieties of Italian.

Get started with this video: 10 things you didn’t know about Italians (maybe you didn’t want to know but we’ll tell you anyway)

The Jackal - 10 Cose che NON SAPEVI sugli ITALIANI - YouTube

Cook Around

If you’re hoping to speak Italian like a native speaker, why not learn to cook like one too?  There are lots of Italian cooking channels on YouTube where you can get recipes and tips from Italian chefs – ecco an example of an original carbonara recipe from the Cook Around YouTube channel with subtitles in Italian.

Spaghetti alla carbonara: tutorial ricetta originale - YouTube

How to use subtitles with Italian YouTube videos How to turn them on

To turn on YouTube subtitles, click the little white box in the bottom right-hand corner.

I’d recommend listening without subtitles first so you can train your listening (native speakers don’t come with subtitles in real-life, sadly!), then watch again with subtitles so you can catch what you missed and look up new words.

Related post: Improve your Listening in a Foreign Language: The Ultimate Guide

How to switch languages

If you’re lucky, you might find a video with Italian AND English subtitles. This is handy for when you understand the words in Italian, but you’re still not quite sure what the whole sentence means – you can switch over to English and see how the pros translated it.

To switch languages, click on the little cog button at the bottom right-hand corner.

Then click on Subtitles/CC and you’ll see all the available languages.

What about you?

Which of these Italian YouTube channels do you like the most? Do you know any other good Italian YouTube channels that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

The post 14 Addictive Italian YouTube Channels to Learn Italian (+ Subtitles) appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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Buon Anno! Happy New Year!

Are you feeling ready to learn Italian this year?

If so, this episode is for you. We’ve got a special extended interview with Italian teacher and language expert Stefano, who will give you tips on how to learn Italian, including how to:

  • Learn Italian grammar
  • Make great progress
  • Stay motivated all year

Our conversation is in Italian too, so you can learn some in Italian and get some tips at the same time. If you’d like to read the conversation as you listen, below, you’ll find the transcript (+ other bonus materials).

#60: How to Learn Italian - Tips from a Polyglot Italian teacher - SoundCloud
(1902 secs long, 51 plays)Play in SoundCloud

To remember what you learnt in today’s lesson, below you’ll find bonus materials including word lists, quizzes and flashcards. But first…

Become a 5-minute Italian member (it’s free!)

Learn to speak and understand Italian faster by joining the 5 minute Italian club! When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • Mini Italian lessons + bonus materials delivered to your inbox.
  • Access to the private Facebook group where you can practice chatting in Italian.
  • Invites to free speaking workshops.

If you’d like to join us, click here to become a member of 5 Minute Italian.

Transcript

See below for translations and a breakdown of each sentence/word

Buon 2019 a tutti! Oggi parliamo di cosa ci vuole per imparare bene l’italiano in questo nuovo anno appena iniziato. Innanzitutto, bisogna sapere ascoltare, per poi ripetere e imitare. Inoltre, ci vuole pazienza: meglio progredire piano e bene, che non rapidamente ma male. Infine, serve una forte motivazione: la nostra passione è il motore che può portarci lontano!

English Translation

Buon 2019 a tutti! Oggi parliamo di cosa ci vuole per imparare bene l’italiano in questo nuovo anno appena iniziato.
Happy 2019 to everyone! Today, we’re talking about what’s needed to learn Italian well in this new year (that’s) just begun.

Innanzitutto, bisogna sapere ascoltare, per poi ripetere e imitare.
First of all, it’s necessary to know how to listen in order to then repeat and imitate.

Inoltre, ci vuole pazienza: meglio progredire piano e bene, che non rapidamente ma male.
Furthermore, you need (it’s needed) patience. (It’s) better to progress slowly and well, rather than quickly but badly

Infine, serve una forte motivazione: la nostra passione è il motore che può portarci lontano!
In the end, you need (it’s needed) a strong motivation: our passion is the engine that can take us far!

Today’s Italian words

Buon 2019 a tutti! = Happy 2019 everyone
Buon = good
A = to
Tutti = everyone
Oggi parliamo di cosa ci vuole per imparare bene l’italiano = Today, we’re talking about what’s needed to learn Italian well.
Oggi = today
Parliamo = we speak
Di = about
Cosa = what
Ci vuole = is needed
Per = in order to
Imparare = learn
Bene = well
l’italiano = Italian (literally “the Italian”)
In questo nuovo anno appena iniziato = In this new year (that’s) just begun.
In = in
Questo = this
Nuovo = new
Anno = Year
Appena = just
Iniziato = started
Innanzitutto, bisogna sapere ascoltare = First of all, it’s necessary to know how to listen
Innanzitutto = first of all
Bisogna = it’s needed/necessary
Sapere = know how to
Ascoltare = listen
Per poi ripetere e imitare = in order to then repeat and imitate.
Per = in order to
Poi = then
Ripetere = repeat
e = and
Imitare = imitate
Inoltre, ci vuole pazienza = Furthermore, you need patience
Inoltre = furthermore
Ci vuole = it’s needed
Pazienza = patience
Meglio progredire piano e bene, che non rapidamente ma male = It’s better to progress slowly and well, rather than quickly but badly.
Meglio = better
Progredire = progress
Piano = slowly
e = and
Bene = well
Che non = rather than
Rapidamente = quickly
Ma = but
Male = badly
Infine = in the end
Serve = it’s needed
Una forte = a strong
Motivazione = motivation
La nostra passione è il motore che può portarci lontano = our passion is the engine that can take us far
La = the
Nostra = our
Passione = passion
è = is
Il motore = the engine
Che = that
Può = can
Portare = take
Ci = us
Lontano = far

Take the quiz

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Click here to take the quiz for this episode: How to learn Italian (tips from a polyglot)

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Related episodes

Why Italian is Easier than you Think

The post #60: How to Learn Italian – Tips from an Italian Teacher who Speaks 10 Languages appeared first on Joyoflanguages.

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