4 ways to boost your language skills

Live and learn in Florence

Francesca Giordano
April 30, 2015

Studying in a country without any knowledge of the language can be difficult and sometimes very frustrating. Although it may seem challenging to learn a new language, there are so many exciting and fun ways to learn without taking a single class. Whether you are enrolled in a language class or learning on your own, there are many formal and informal ways to learn the local lingo.


1. Using your school’s resources

Florence University of the Arts and Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute are among many popular international schools in Florence. Both of these institutions give students the opportunity to experience, practice and learn Italian in an interactive environment, including programs to interact with local speakers, such as Florence Family Exchange Club and ChatPal. These allow students to practice their Italian more often and in a real-time environment instead of just inside of a classroom. For more information, go to fua.it and ldminstitute.com.


2. Turn on Italian TV

While studying abroad, it might seem a waste of time to watch television and movies, but doing so can prove productive. There are plenty of familiar American movies and TV shows, which are dubbed or subtitled. Or try watching a movie you know really well. Watch it enough and you may pick up a few new words.


3. Adventure to the middle of nowhere

Although it may seem crazy, hopping on the next train to the most random, unheard-of town in Tuscany might actually be beneficial to your learning process. Although it may seem scary, it will force you to use what little Italian you may know. Take a map, a phrase book, enlist a friend and go to Santa Maria Novella station and take a train to Prato, Pistoia or Pontassieve—and be sure to validate your ticket before boarding.


4. Immerse yourself

Study-abroad students are always told to keep an open mind while living in a new country: the advice is sound. In order to improve your Italian, make friends with some locals. Go where the Florentines do and avoid places that cater to tourists. The more you surround yourself in the language, the more you will be forced to practice and use it.

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