Grammar or no grammar?

Italian is a very easy language to learn. In fact, it is very easy to read as we pronounce it as it is written. In addition, no stress is involved in reading as you should read slowly and take your time when you pronounce the vowels; they should be over pronounced in comparison with English pronunciation. In fact, I always say to my students that the longer the vowels and, therefore, the more stretched the syllables, the more they sound like they are from the South of Italy! This is a very good thing.

Moreover, many words are very similar between Italian and English. As you may already know, Italian is a Latin language and, therefore, all English words coming from Latin have a corresponding Italian word, easily recognizable. For example, volcano (vulcano), city (citta’) or family (famiglia), defenestrare (defenestration, to throw someone out the window) and so on.

On the other hand, Italian grammar requires a bit of commitment for those who are not used to studying grammar. No more nor less then the same commitment if you had to study English grammar, believe me! The point is that usually grammar is not studied very much in Anglophone countries, at least so I have been told. In Italy we do study Italian grammar since our first primary school year, therefore by the end of our forth grade we know the difference between an adjective and an adverb, and so on. Grammar is also studied in the transition years and in many secondary schools. Therefore, it might be a bit of struggle for those who never studied other languages, but if you have already studied French, Spanish, Latin or any other language it will be quite easy! (In fact, students, who do not struggle with Italian grammar, usually have a good preparation in other languages such as French, Spanish or Latin or are not native English speakers.)

Having said this, you should not worry. In the first instance, grammar can be learnt in easy ways, and, most importantly, it should always be linked to immediate and practical usage. In my classes I have seen many students improve, not only their conversation skills, but also their grasp of grammar. One of them really impressed me. He hated grammar, and probably he still hates it, but through role playing of real life situations we approached grammar in an indirect way, and, almost incidentally, came to understand all the grammar we worked on during the winter. Now he is doing very well and learning away! Are you reading? Did you recognize yourself?

If I can give a piece of advice, I would recommend never letting grammar stack up. As soon as you have time, you should go over your lessons and do your exercises and take a look at them before the next class. If you don’t understand, you should ask your teacher immediately for further or different explanations. This is your second or third language, therefore there is nothing to be ashamed about.

Let’s not forget that you can do without grammar, as far as your target is not reading ‘La divina commedia’ or writing Italian essays! If you’re aiming at going to Italy for you holidays and being able to ask for information, make an order or introduce yourself, you do not need much grammar, but rather Conversation which is much easier

If you have been studying Italian for a while, it would be great to know what you think about this subject and if have any suggestions for those who are just starting to learn Italian!

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