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Basic Italian conversations in everyday situations with slow audio, transcript, and English translation
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For full access to my original learning resources, choose the new plan Impara Con Me, which includes the audio course Ripeti Con Me and the readings Leggi Con Me.
Learn in 4 steps
Here’s a simple plan to learn effectively with Italian conversations.
To get the most out of your short story, I suggest this 4-step approach.
Read the conversation for the gist, not the details. The first time, focus on trying to understand the main ideas of the story: the characters, the major plot developments, and the setting.
Take your time to read it again carefully. Look up unknown words, phrases, or grammatical constructions that are unfamiliar to you. Write them down in a notebook or on flashcards to help you memorize them.
Look at the translation to read the conversation one more time. This way, you understand the text fully and have access to the translations and explanations.
For further practice, I recommend writing a summary of the story. This way, you’ll have a more complete understanding of it and make new vocabulary and grammar topics easier to memorize.
Listen to original basic Italian conversations read by a native speaker at a slow pace!
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A challenging way to...
The ideal podcast for beginners to intermediate Italian speakers
So, you’ve been learning Italian for a while now, and have a decent knowledge of grammar and a good vocabulary… But there’s still one thing that you can’t handle: conversations in Italian!
Having a conversation in a foreign language is no joke, and it is normal to feel nervous about it at the beginning. There are so many things that could go wrong… What if you don’t remember a word you wanted to use? What if you get stuck and lose the thread and end up in an embarrassing silence?
All this can happen (and I warn you, it probably will at some point!), but there is nothing else in your language-learning journey as practicing Italian conversation, be it with native speakers or other learners.
You don’t need to buy an Italian conversation book or to take private Italian conversation classes. You find plenty of Italian conversations online!
Learn some basic Italian conversation phrases and questions (there’s also a PDF available here!) and get started, just go out there and don’t be scared.
In this guide, I’ll give you all the tips and guidance you need to start your conversation practice in Italian, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced student.
So, what do you do when you want to learn a new skill or to play a new game? You watch someone doing it, you observe carefully and then imitate what you see.
Well, it is exactly the same for conversation, only you’ll be using your ears instead of your eyes! The best Italian conversation examples are found… In real life Italian conversation!
Try to listen to Italian conversation as much as you can. If you have friends who speak in Italian, always listen to them carefully. If you go to an Italian restaurant, café or bakery, listen to the staff talking to each other.
Watch Italian series, films, listen to Italian podcasts… Just listen, listen, listen! Your brain will pick up the basic rules of conversation without you even realizing, and you’ll end up sounding just like a native speaker.
We all know the feeling: it’s your turn to order at the restaurant or to ask for information at the tourist center, and your mind goes blank… Ermmmhhh…. Before you get a chance to speak, the person you were going to speak to already switched to English.
A great way to avoid this kind of situation is to have your first sentence ready, and maybe some more vocab you might need for the basic Italian conversation you intend to have.
Get researching before getting out, and prepare as if you were going to an Italian conversation lesson. You’ll get more chances of getting people to answer in Italian and to practice your Italian conversation skills!
The previous point will also help you in another essential aspect of being successful in Italian conversations: being confident.
If you don’t understand, don’t just say “non ho capito” (I don’t understand), because it will give the listener the perfect chance to switch to English. Instead, try saying:
Just adding that last bit will make whoever you’re talking to understand that you are confident in your language skills and want to keep going in Italian.
Another useful expression for when you can’t think of the exact word you’re looking for is:
This is a sentence native speakers use when they momentarily forget a word. If you use it, everyone will assume you actually know the word you’re looking for, you just forgot it, and maybe they’ll help you remember it!
To have a good conversation in Italian does not mean speaking as quickly as native speakers do. Actually, good talkers don’t rush a conversation. They talk slowly and clearly.
Take your time to think about what you want to say and to reflect before speaking.
There really is no rush.
Taking your time to answer a question is also a sign of confidence in your abilities, and it will take off the pressure and help you feel calmer during the conversation.
Don’t worry, it will not make you come off as slow or bad at speaking Italian, but rather centered and collected, serious about finding and using the right words and constructions.
Don’t forget to also speak clearly and loudly. Do not whisper or it will be hard to understand (and hear) what you have to say.
When practicing your Italian conversation skills don’t get so caught up in finding the right word and using the appropriate grammar structure that you forget who you are!
After all, speaking is about conveying your thoughts and emotions, so get comfortable with them!
It is at the emotional level that people connect, and it will help both you and your interlocutor feel at ease and more willing to converse and understand each other.
Italians are amusingly famous for using their hands (and their whole body!) when they have a conversation… And this is no false stereotype!
Try to observe native speakers and you will surely notice it.
A real Italian conversation isn’t complete without expressive body language, and it will help you get your point across as well.
Don’t underestimate the power of good hand gestures during a conversation in Italian. It can make the difference between getting your point across and getting completely misunderstood!
Another important point, if you want to strike up a conversation in Italian with native speakers, is to look like them. If they guess you’re a foreigner from your appearance, they will most likely start speaking English to you.
Reduce the chances of this happening by observing and imitating the way they look and behave!
If you have an Italian vibe about you, rather than a tourist one, people will be more likely to speak to you in Italian by default.
Here are some tips:
If all of the above tricks do not work, and people keep talking to you in English (after all, maybe they also want to practice conversation in a language they are learning!), just ask them politely to switch back to Italian. The best way to do it is simply by asking:
If you explain the situation and the reason you’d rather speak Italian, most people will be happy to chat with you for a while and help you out.
Of course, if you are a beginner and you are really struggling to get your point across or to understand what’s being said, it is not really practical to insist on keeping up a painfully slow and broken conversation in Italian.
In this case, it is best to practice with someone you have a “learning agreement” with.
What is a learning agreement? It is a situation in which a specific person agrees to be your learning partner and help practice conversation with you.
Talking to random people in a language you’ve just started learning can be scary and embarrassing.
A learning agreement is a perfect setup to practice in a safe space, with a partner you know and trust, and who knows you are just starting to learn and practice.
You can set up a learning agreement with a friend who wants to learn English (or another skill you can teach them), for example, and alternate between English-speaking and Italian-speaking days, or just find an Italian tutor for some conversation practice.
These situations are ideal for beginners to get comfortable with basic conversation in Italian, and there is no pressure. If you don’t know something, just ask, the other person is there exactly for that! But remember, try to keep the conversation going in Italian as much as you can. Use expressions like:
If you can’t find a live conversation partner to practice your Italian skills just yet, texting and online chatting are a great way to practice conversation skills.
The online setting takes a bit of pressure off and gives you time to check words and grammar, but it’s still conversational and friendly.
And, once you feel comfortable texting and chatting, why not start sending audio messages?
There are many ways to have an Italian conversation online.
This will take you a step further, as you can prepare what you’re going to say a little bit, but it will still end up being spontaneous! Try it out!
If you want to start having great conversations, in any language, improving your conversation skills is a great way to start. You will feel more at ease when talking to someone else, and you’ll know what to do and how to behave spontaneously in all kinds of situations.
After all, conversation is an art and you can refine it by learning new skills and tricks and practicing.
Like everything in life, conversational skills don’t improve overnight. It will take time, practice, and willingness to learn from your experiences and mistakes. If you want to master conversations in Italian, it will be worth starting a long-term journey to develop your interpersonal abilities.
This journey will not just help you with learning more about Italian conversation, but will also positively impact your social life in general!
Conversations are supposed to be fun and interesting, so why be so worried about them?
Learn these tricks and you will improve your basic Italian conversation skills, enjoying every step of your learning experience.
Not only you can learn and develop your Italian (and general!) conversation skills, but it is surprisingly easy to do so, especially if you follow some simple rules. Here they are:
Sure, you want to get practicing your Italian conversation skills, so you should speak as much as you can… But remember, a conversation is not just about you, and not just about the other person either.
A monologue, whether you are the speaker or the listener, is not a conversation. Try to find a balance between talking and listening.
Learn to ask questions and not just to talk about yourself and your opinions. Plus, everyone likes to be listened to, and asking questions can make the other person even more interested in talking to you!
Here are some useful ones:
Of course, one of the most important things in any kind of conversation is your attitude. Try to always smile and be nice and pleasant.
As we mentioned, in Italy it is always important to greet people politely before starting a conversation. You can use a simple ciao (hi) if you’re greeting someone young, otherwise use buongiorno, buonasera or salve (good morning/afternoon, good evening, hello).
Everyone would rather chat with someone friendly and pleasant from the start.
Then, try to build rapport by establishing some common ground or simply smiling and using positive body language.
You can say something about the weather (Che bella giornata! – What a nice day) or make a remark about something you may have in common with the person.
It’s fine to do it with your friends if that’s what you’re into, but try to avoid talking about controversial issues with strangers just to practice your language skills. Better to keep it simple at first and stick to small talk.
Also, try not to repeat gossips you’ve heard about people they may or may not be acquainted with… And anyway, talking about people behind their backs is never nice!
As mentioned above, knowing how to do small talk in Italian is essential, so try to always be able to talk about the current weather, recent news, and other general topics. Some people do not like small talk and consider it unimportant or trivial, but it is very useful when you want to practice your Italian conversation skills! Learn sentences like:
However dull you find someone… don’t say it! Learn some phrases in Italian that you can use when you’ve been drawn into a conversation you really don’t want to be having:
If you actually have a conversation you want to be having, then learn to listen carefully and respond to what the other person is saying, and not respond with whatever you had previously planned to say.
This is the most challenging part of having a conversation in a foreign language, but don’t worry, you can learn some sentences that you can use when you enter unexplored conversation territory…
If you struggle to think of something to say in response, for example, try using some “set” sentences, such as:
These sentences will give you a bit of extra time and make the other person know that, if you’re not speaking that much, is not because you’re not listening, but because you’re not sure what to say in response!
As we already mentioned, to go deeper into a conversation you should try to express your emotions and create emotional connections with the other person.
After all, a conversation in Italian might start with small talk about the weather… But it does not have to stay that way forever!
Italian conversations for beginners don’t need to be boring.
Try to share what inspires you and make the other share what inspires them too!
We naturally tend to like those who are interested in us…. So try to be interested in others! Start a conversation with a question like “Com’è andata la tua giornata?” (How was your day?) or “Come stai oggi?” (How are you today?) and then genuinely listen to the answer.
Your attention will be appreciated and most likely given back to you.
If it comes natural to you, use your sense of humor to make yourself more approachable. If you make a mistake and realize it, have a good laugh and invite the other person to laugh too. Language learning should be fun and you should never feel ashamed of making mistakes! Sbagliando s’impara!
Your attitude will also make the other person feel like they can correct you when you say something wrong without offending you. And that’s what you want!
If you like something about someone, say it! It won’t come off as creepy or too much if it is said sincerely and looking the person in the eye. And it can be a great conversation starter as well as making the person feel you’re interested in talking to them.
Once you’ve learned all the rules of a great Italian conversation and you’ve been rehearsing and learning some useful words and phrases, it’s time for the real thing: having a conversation with a native Italian speaker!
Don’t wait until you feel more confident… That day may never come! It is always a bit scary to start doing something new, and the only way you’ll get confident speaking Italian is by practicing speaking Italian, especially with native speakers! You are a beginner, so embrace not being perfect and try to have fun with it!
All you have to do, really, is practice, and the more you do the faster you’ll go from basic Italian conversation to intermediate to advanced and fluent!
If you have no one to talk to, but you’re living or traveling in Italy, set a daily goal of conversations and just do it.
For example, you can say “I will try to have at least 2 conversations in Italian every day.” Then go out, and when you order your morning cappuccino ask the waiter for information on a tourist destination, or make a comment about the weather.
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to strike up conversations with strangers in Italy!
If you don’t feel like going out and talking to strangers just yet, try to find a language partner. It could be an Italian friend of yours who wants to learn English, or a partner found online. There are plenty of websites nowadays for language exchange!
This way, you will basically have free Italian conversation lessons in return for some of your time teaching your native language.
If you want to learn fast and don’t want an exchange, you can also hire a private language tutor, online (on platforms like iTalki) or in the flesh!
With a private Italian conversation class, you will surely get more speaking time and you can book lessons at times that suit you.
Italian conversations for beginners are vital, be it with a tutor or any native speaker.
Even if you do take lessons or do an exchange, try to keep practicing with random people too… Remember, Italian strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet!
And making new Italian friends is one of the best ways to learn all the secrets of Italian conversation!
And, while you’re online, check out the Italian conversations to listen to on this page.
Listen to Italian conversation at any time, anywhere!