10 Steps to Becoming Fluent in Italian


I've been in Italy for a few months now, living it up in a cute appartamento in the periferia of Milano. I've waited in line at two separate uffici della prefettura and gone through an intense security screening at the American consulate in Rome. I can order gelato without speaking a word of English, with minimal pointing and nodding. This qualifies me as an expert on the topic of learning the Italian language. 

1. Decide that your destiny is to be an opera singer. 

This is always the first step. Decide you love something esoteric that makes you feel different and special and important. Italian is WAY easier to sing than French or German. 

2. Take beginner Italian classes at University. 

TAKING LANGUAGE CLASSES WILL RAISE YOUR GPA BY A BAJILLION PERCENT AND ARE WORTH ATTENDING. I promise that as long as you go to class, it's an easy way to earn a minimum 90% grade for 5 units of credit, which, if you have a solid D average can bring your GPA up to a B if you play your cards right.

3. Go to Italy. 

As many travel decisions happen, start by getting drunk on the beach with your friends.  When they tell you they're planning to visit Italy, tell them that Italy is basically your back yard and that you're totally going to meet them there. 

4. Try language learning software. 

Don’t take a class where you might learn useful things like how to form complete sentences or greet people properly. Start with real conversation starters, like "The women eat apples while the men read newspapers," or "Why is the horse in my yard?"

5. Find a conversation buddy. 

Join a chat room that allows you to learn Italian with real Italians. You'll get hit on a lot by lonely men. A LOT of lonely men who are very romantically aggressive. And they all have wives and girlfriends.

Just before you give up because you’re not learning anything, you'll find a person who you actually really enjoy talking to and are actively learning from who doesn’t hit on you. Spoilers: You’re going to marry him later.

6. Go to Italy some more times. 

Flights are cheap if you go in the off-season (any time except the summer). Pack an umbrella, a coat, and good walking shoes. You probably won’t need that bathing suit.

7. Take another Italian class.

At this point, you've fallen in love with your Italian language buddy, who did you a real solid and learned English for you. You decide to learn Italian in order to communicate with his family, none of whom speak very much English. 

Enroll in another class at a level high enough where you always feel slightly stupid. It’s not learning if you understand everything that is happening around you.

8. Marry an Italian. 

Don’t skip any of the steps before this one. They’re essential to get to this point.

9. Move to Italy.

Get rid of all your stuff while you prepare your visa and other documents you need to get married in Italy. It's way more documents than you think is necessary, but it's the system you're marrying into. 

Fantasize about all the pasta you’re going to eat while miraculously losing weight. (It won’t happen, you won’t lose weight. But the pasta part is worth it.)

10. Keep taking Italian classes.

After all of this, you haven’t progressed beyond a basic level, so start taking some more classes while you are living in Italy.

I took classes in Milan at a nice Italian school for foreigners that I highly recommend.