My first Italian lesson

When I finally got home from work last night, my new Rosetta Stone software was there waiting for me and I was eager to try it out. I got it installed and completed the entire first lesson, which took about 45 minutes. In fact, when I took the test, I only missed one question and that’s because I wasn’t paying attention when I answered it.

It is really a fascinating method for learning a language, unlike anything that I had in school while learning Spanish. They say that there is “no memorization required” because there is no translation. You are taught entirely in Italian. This is true. The amazing thing is how well it works (so far) for me and how much deduction and plays into the learning process.

It starts out very basically. You are shown four pictures, and then a native speaker speaks the Italian word for each picture, for instance: un bambino, una bambina, una palla, una cavello. Then the speaker will speak one of the words and you have to click on the appropriate picture. I would repeat outloud anything that I selected so as to work on my pronunciation, etc. (There is a whole section of the application that analyzes your accent and pronunciation in great detail, but I only played around with that a little last night.)

As you progress through the lesson, more words are added via pictures. At first, these are mostly nouns, but then, other words are subtly added. For instance, you’ll see a picture of a man and a boy and then speaker will say, Un uomo e un bambino (thus, you deduce that e means “and”). That evolves into learning some prepositions. You see a picture of a girl on a horse: una regazza su un cavello. You see a picture of a boy standing under an airplane: un bambino sotto un aereo. All the while, new words are being added by the pictures: boat, elephant, dog, cat, etc. It is really an ingenious way to learn. At first when I saw the boy sitting on the wing of the small airplane, I couldn’t decipher the word su, but then I saw the girl sitting under the table and immediately understood the word sotta and from the that was able to deduce the word su.

I started the second lesson last night, which introduces some verbs, entirely in the basic present tense form of is —ing (“is walking”, “is running”, “is swimming”, etc.) I didn’t complete the lesson because I had to get to bed and I will start it from scratch again today, but even in learning the verbs, you are left to yourself to decipher the meaning from the pictures which I think is very useful because your mind has to work at it and you begin to learn the words directly rather than have to translate them. Also, they continue to add subtleties along the way that expand your knowledge. For instance, after doing sentences for pictures like, L’oumo sta cominando (the man is walking), they will throw in a picture of several girls running together (Le bambine stonno caminando) and you begin to learn plural forms of nouns and verbs.

The thing that impressed me most is that this morning, I remember most of what I learned last night as though I just had it fresh. I can hear the native speaker’s voice in my head saying the various words and I know what they mean without having to think about it too much.

Rosetta Stone software is not cheap, but so far, I am very impressed with how it works so it seems to be well worth the money spent.