Having trouble with comprehension

chris4984

Member
English, United States
I am have been studying Italian for quite a while now. I have good reading skills and can understand most written Italian, but my problem is understanding it in spoken form. It just frustrates me. I now get a TV channel that plays RAI programs every day. I listen to them but I just get discouraged because I can only pick up a few words here and there. For those English or other non-Italian speaking peoples who are now fluent in Italian, how long did it take for you to have good oral comprehension skills? Is watching Italian TV programs a good way to learn or do I need to speak with Italians in order to get sufficient practice. I now live in New York City so I am sure I can find someone that speaks Italian here, or I can go to the Italian consulate. Thanks for your help.
 
  • cas29

    Senior Member
    Canada/English
    Developing listening skills is a challenge.

    Personally I think it is better to speak with people until your ear is "faster". I've lived in Italy for over 10 years and still have trouble with television.

    It is not unusual for me to watch commercials 5-6 times before I can get everything they say - and I have a decent ear, it is just that the rate of speech is way too fast.

    If you are going to watch tv or films, in my opinion documentaries would be better, as the narration tends to be at a slower pace than dialogue. Other alternatives are to watch films you have seen in English, in Italian - for example perhaps "La Vita è Bella" - That might be available in English and Italian on dvd.

    However, I really think that speaking helps a lot more because you really have to participate - plus you get to ask questions.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you should not really expect to always catch every single word. People listening to conversations, films, radio etc in their own language don't actually hear every single word --- but they do have enough vocabulary and background knowledge of common pairings and patterns to be able to fill in the gaps extremely quickly and practically seamlessly. When a person switches to a new language, it takes a long time to develop the ability to fill in the gaps.

    Hook up with an Italian club and go for it!
     

    *Gaia*

    Member
    Italy Italian
    I am have been studying Italian for quite a while now. I have good reading skills and can understand most written Italian, but my problem is understanding it in spoken form. It just frustrates me. I now get a TV channel that plays RAI programs every day. I listen to them but I just get discouraged because I can only pick up a few words here and there. For those English or other non-Italian speaking peoples who are now fluent in Italian, how long did it take for you to have good oral comprehension skills? Is watching Italian TV programs a good way to learn or do I need to speak with Italians in order to get sufficient practice. I now live in New York City so I am sure I can find someone that speaks Italian here, or I can go to the Italian consulate. Thanks for your help.
    Dear Chris,
    please don't give up! Comprehension is generally the most difficult skill to acquire if you can't live diped into a place where your learning language is spoken. As an English learner, I can say I don't have great troubles with written form but I find quite difficult the spoken one. So be patient and conscious that your problems are common to every single person who studies a second language. Keep on watching Italian tv, it's a good way to improve your skills. If you go to the site "raiclick.it" you'll find a lot of useful material (fictions, documentaries, tv programs...) to exercise your ear to our beautiful but complicated Italian ;) (I'd like to post the right URL but I'm afraid I'm not allowed since I am just a junior member :))
    In bocca al lupo!
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    Excellent suggestions! I especially like the idea of watching programs where the language is spoken more slowly, like documentaries. Sometimes soap operas (telenovelle?) are also good in this respect, and the dialog tends use simpler language as well.

    I also agree that meeting with Italian speakers is a tremendous help. You might try meetup.com to see if there is an Italian speaking group in your area. If you are interested, please send me a PM to "discuss" other possibilities. :)

    Elisabetta
     
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