I'm in Italy, and I can't speak Italian!
I have been in Italy for 3.5 weeks on my student exchange program, and I have learnt next to no Italian! Everyone speaks to me in English and even when I insist they talk in Italian they go straight back to English the moment I don't understand something. Most of the time I don't hear something because they speak so fast and I tell them to repeat it slower and they go straight to English! Because of this I never get to speak Italian and I'm not learning anything. I still have 8 weeks left, so if anyone has any ideas on learning please tell me, because I'm running out.
hahahahahahah. Sorry, but I just had to. The thing is, you gotta keep going at it. For me, at first Spanish was almost impossible to understand - but if you keep using it, happens. Takes at least a month or two - to start getting the hang of it. You start catching on what they are saying and find new ways of constructing a sentence yourself. It's not a "success" strategy - it's the only strategy. A few weeks time is simply not enough to suddenly understand people. As a matter of fact, you'll have to ask them to repeat and speak slower and if it was already a bit of fast paced conversation - the person will switch to English! So, find them when they are chilling out and try speak Italian SLOWLY with them. When they have the time to speak slowly and explain stuff to you, as well. As a matter of fact, when you start to speak a language in the real World, it's hard to put things into words despite knowing them! You could have imagined conversation and could have talked to yourself in fluent Italian but when you're actually talking to someone, getting tongue tied is pretty common - or at least, that happens to me.
But, basically, find people when they are lazing around and wouldn't mind your company and try basic conversation (such as stuff on DL) topics such as food. That allows your brain to develop patterns to re-formulate what it already knows instead of trying to build upon stuff that it's just trying to get the hang of.
Good luck! Have fun :) Ciao! :)
Sono d'accordo con Dovyurak. Ho passato tre settimane in Spagna e non era abbastanza per farmi "fluente." Pero quando sono andata in Italia per un anno, dopo tre mesi è arrivato il momento magico. Ho smesso di dover tradurre tutto (nella mente) e ho cominciato a sognare in italiano. Abbia pazienza! E segui i consigli qui sopra -- molte persone hanno suggerito buone idee.
leave the campus and downtown now! go to the streets, do a little shopping or have a coffe and cake somewhere.....there will be plenty of natives who dont have a degree in english, yes, even older people, less educated people with vocabulary shorter and maybe better to understand.....and dont forget mentioning you are in their bellisima italia to learn their language.......and if your school mates treat you as a free english teacher politely (!) insist that you are on an exchange and that when they come to your country, you will speak to them in english to help them learn....
OK, maybe I exaggerated a little. XD
However, maria.nils got it right, older people and children do not speak English.
Tell them you don't speak English, tell them you're from Zenamenistan (fake country, so they can't check).
See if you can find someone who is learning English and set aside a time to talk with that person just to practice your languages. Say, "Let's talk for X amount of time only in Italian so that I can practice, and then we can talk X amount of time in English so you can practice." That way it's a win-win.
Try to find someone who doesn't speak English. The older they are, the more likely they don't want to speak English with you. Young children could also work well. Also, try to keep on speaking Italian to people even if they are speaking English to you - they might just give up eventually. Don't despair!
I do feel your pain. I live in an area of the US where it SHOULD be really easy to practice Spanish - but it isn't. When I try speaking Spanish, unless I explain ahead of time that I am trying to learn it, people automatically switch to English. By the way, my Spanish speaking students of English have the opposite problem, because so many of the people working in the stores are truly bilingual. And it gets worse - you get profiled, blond hair, fair and blue eyes get English even with fluent Spanish speakers, and dark hair, olive skin and dark eyes get Spanish.
I just started Italian two days ago so i'm new too, but good luck!!!
This is a common problem. I think, to be fair, that many Italians want to learn English too, and they have less chance to practice with an English speaker.
I try to give and take a little on this one; speak a bit in Italian, switch to English, switch back to Italian. Explain to people that you are learning and you need to practice and they are usually very happy to speak to you in their language. If they repeat a sentence in English because you've asked them to speak more slowly, just say 'In Italiano, per favore - devo imparare!' or something like that.
Of course, there will be times when people are simply too busy to take the time, but I've been to Italy many times now (just for holidays) and on the whole, people are only too delighted to help me to learn their language. Above all, don't be embarrassed to ask!
Try doing something I hear happening around me all the time, with Spanish and English. Continue speaking to your friends in Italian.. If they reply in English, so what. As long as the replies make sense, they understood you, and eventually, they'll probably switch back to Italian (or a mixture of the two.
Thank them for trying to help you understand and then just answer them in Italian again. In villages, rather than cities, you are also more likely to find people who only speak Italian.
I assume you aren't taking language lessons. It takes about 3 weeks to start hearing the sounds. Don't hang out where the tourists are. Get on the bus and travel around the city, get lost. If you are in a big city, it is sad but true, a lot of people want to practice their English. I have spent time in Italy, and I couldn't understand either and I was there doing lessons all day long. Good luck.
An observation from when I had a friend visiting from Denmark. His English was good early in the day, but when he got tired later in the day, he wanted to use Danish. What if you make a deal to use Italian before a certain time while you are fresh and let them practice their English when you (and they) are tired?