Learn Italian Words: la famiglia!

Family, in Italy, is a big deal: we all know that. This is why, for an Italian language student, wading through Italian kinship terms can be really challenging. But hey, that’s exactly the reason why we’re here!
Check out this brand new infographic about Italian kinship terms and learn how to properly address your nonna in Italian (getting some treat in return!). 🙂

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.


“Cosa ti ha colpito di più dell’Italia?”

E’ quello che abbiamo chiesto ai nostri studenti di Italiano di livello B2, sperando che loro notassero aspetti della cultura italiana che noi nativi, anestetizzati dalla routine culturale, non siamo più in grado di evidenziare. Le risposte, a volte, sono sorprendenti! 😀

Italian Language Class - B2 levelDell’Italia mi hanno colpito tante cose. Ho visto che la gente si salutava con i baci, anche fra maschi e fra femmine.

L’altra cosa è quando ho visto il traffico, le persone non sono gentili. Non hanno pazienza, suonano il clacson e sempre usano il cellulare quando guidano.

La terza cosa che mi ha colpito è il cibo. Prima di venire in Italia non avevo mai visto così tanti tipi di formaggi e affettati freschi. E’ proprio vero che il cibo italiano è buonissimo come si dice nel mondo.

Joanna (Malesia)

Una cosa che mi ha colpito durante il mio soggiorno in Italia è il suono “boh” che a quanto pare è veramente fondamentale nel discorso italiano. Ho cercato una definizione su internet e risulta che la traduzione più semplice all’italiano “ufficiale” sarebbe: “non lo so”. Mi sembra un’espressione divertentissima e unica.

Ben (Inghilterra)

A cena fuori per praticare l'italiano!Una cosa strana è quando l’inverno le donne italiane mettono sopra il cappotto pesante e sotto mettono le calze leggere. Per me questa abitudine è strana, perché se hai freddo dovresti mettere i vestiti pesanti sia sopra che sotto.

Un’altra cosa che mi ha colpito molto è il saluto, perché [gli italiani] si baciano per salutare, sia la donna che l’uomo. Questa abitudine per noi cinesi è un po’ strana: i cinesi si stringono la mano.

Jing Xing (Cina)

Una cosa che mi ha colpito quando sono venuta in Italia è vedere i belli campi di girasole in Toscane. Il bel paesaggio lì è veramente qualcosa di particolare e stupendo, mai visto.

Evelyn (Brasile)

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Infographic: physical descriptions in Italian

Describing is one of the most common and important communicative acts of all, and physical descriptions are always one of the thoughest obstacles an Italian Language Student has to overcome when approaching this wonderful language. The sheer nature of italian inflection, in both verbs and nouns, together with the range of vocabulary a student has to learn, often turn the task of simply describing a person into an embarassing experience.

But since we really love you and we want you to communicate effectively in Italian even at the first stages of your learning experience, here’s to you a brand new infographic about physical descriptions in Italian.


Le descrizioni in italiano

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Infographic: l’automobile in italiano!

A very skilled language teacher once told me that words – not grammar – are the first thing you need to learn when approaching a foreign language. Although this seems a notion of common sense (when you go abroad you take with you a vocabulary, not a grammar book), usually language students tend to pay much more attention to morphology and syntax than to memorize the words that will eventually make up their sentences.

Down part is: memorizing things can be boring. But hey, how about an infographic! Here’s a new one, about all the italian words you can find… in a car.


Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

To The Girl I Was Before I Moved Internationally

Dear me,

I know right now that you are probably feeling a huge range of emotions that make you both want to cry, vomit, and also giggle. You cant wait to start anew, reluctant to leave the life you already have, and hesitant to even try getting down that god forsaken language. But trust me the emotional roller coaster hasn’t even begun yet.

There are things you need to think about before you step on that plane, things that we both know you haven’t quite considered yet. You don’t want to admit it but you are really only thinking about the positives, and you need to know that despite how happy your daydreams are, reality is rarely so kind.

You haven’t considered that you will be alone. You don’t even know how much you are going to miss your friends. I mean, come on, this isn’t like moving to a different state. You  will try to chat constantly and you will wait impatiently for them to wake up, and every time you have to hang up because you need sleep, your heart is going to break a little more. You aren’t going to see your best friend and despite how much you guys swear to stay in touch, you mostly only talk through Facebook posts now. You’ll probably see some of your family at Christmas, but not all of them. Basically, prepare to be lonely. For a while.

You don’t even understand how hard a language barrier is until you’re the one trying to break through it. Everything seems so much easier when everyone you know speaks the same language you do. You think “Oh everyone says I’ll pick it up quickly, I’ll be fine!” NO. You are going to wish that you had studied a lot more, and even now I am still tripping over sentences, and forgetting words that I have been taught a hundred times. And those looks, those annoyed eye rolls and the exasperated sighs of store clerks will make you feel terrible. You chose this path; now put effort into the language.

Yes, there are going to be days when you want to just drop everything and run onto a plane that will take you back. Yes, there are going to be hard days when you feel like nothing you do is going right and moving here was a terrible, terrible mistake. You can’t do it though. You can’t fly home and take the easy route. We both know that you are coming here, taking the hard way, because you know that the benefits are worth so much more then those horrible times. Here, I’ll even give you a little sneak peek for what to expect.

You are going to be fine. You are going to a university here and you will have wonderful friends who care about you. You’ll work somewhere you love, doing what you love, and that it self is fantastic. You’ll find that new friends are easier to make now then when you were in college. Yes your brothers and sisters aren’t exactly going to be able to visit you every holiday, but you’ll soon find that family doesn’t mean you share the same blood.  Yes you do drift apart from the friends you had back home, but once you go back to visit, everyone will welcome you with open arms, because real friendship doesn’t end at the shore. What I’m basically trying to say is, take a breathe and calm down. Yes its hard to be away from the people you love, but if that love is real, then you have nothing to worry about.

So stop anxiously pacing about near your folded up clothes and your new suite case. This journey may have its downs (like seriously you will be so down, you’ll basically be underground) but those ups are so worth it, you just might touch the sky. And seriously, start studying Italian. I’m not kidding about that.


Future Andrea.

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

When in Rome… speak as an (ancient) roman would do

Some people think that idioms are the most obscure subject that can be encountered when attempting to learn a foreign language, and we might agree with this assumption. Beacause of their sheer nature of crystalized linguistic structures whose origins have often been lost in the process of language evolution, idioms are always a very tricky issue in the hands of a foreign student, lending themselves to misuse and being an obstacle to plain communication. That said, Italian language students should not fear, for many native speakers, when asked, cannot explain the source of idioms that they nevertheless use everyday.

When it comes to Italian, the rich and well documented history of its predecessor, Latin, allows us to track down the origin of many commonly used idioms. Of course you need to know at least the basics of roman history to be aware of what you’re talking about when you name Tizio, Caio e Sempronio or you accuse someone to rest on his laurels (dormire sugli allori) but, hey, that’s why we are here!

Here’s a list of idioms originated by concepts and customs of the ancient Rome:

  1. muzio-scevola_1

    He doesn’t seem that much in pain, does he?

    Metterci la mano sul fuoco (literally: to put one’s hand on fire). This expression, meaning “being so sure about something one could swear on it”, originates from a latin legend involving the historical charachter Muzio Scevola, a young roman aristocrat who, in the VI century b.C., voluntarily burned his right hand because it failed in killing the Etruscan king Porsenna. The connection between the act of bravery ascribed to the roman warrior and the condition of being extremely sure about something lies in the utmost firmness of Muzio‘s beliefs.

  2. Essere una pietra miliare (literally: to be a milestone). Yes, this one exists in English too, but the origin is 100% Latin. Milestones were in fact actual stones that romans used to put alongside their neverending consular routes (such as via Appia, via Casilina, via Tuscolana etc.) in order to mark the distance from the Urbe. Therefore, being a pietra miliare figuratively means being a turning point, after which something changes forever.
  3. Apollo turning Dafne into laurel in one of Bernini's masterpieces.

    Apollo turning Dafne into laurel in one of Bernini’s masterpieces.

    Dormire sugli allori (literally: to rest on laurels). Again, you have this in the English language too. The origin of this idiom is relatively clear, due to the common iconography connected to the concept of success, which has remained basically unchanged from the times of ancient Greece (and Rome). Laurel, commonly associated to Apollo, was and still is a symbol of victory (both military and artistic); “to rest on it” means to stop trying because one is satisfied with one’s past achievements. As simple as that.

  4. Tizio, Caio e Sempronio (Tom, Dick and Harry). This is a placeholder for unidentified subjects, and expressions similar to this one are present, with culturally connoted variants, in many languages. The italian form comes from the names of three historical figures, the Gracchi brothers (Tiberio and Gaio) and their father (Sempronio). The first use of these three names as placeholder can be found in a XI century document from the jurisconsult Irnerio.
  5. Passare sotto le forche caudine (running the gauntlet). This idiom comes directly from an historical event, the battle of the Forche Caudine (321 b.C.), in which the roman army was shamefully defeated by the Samnites. It is told by many historician (such as Tito Livio) that the surviving roman soldiers were humiliated by being forced to pass between two rows of enemy soldiers. which whipped, tortured and insulted them. In modern language the expression means experiencing a deep humiliation or enduring a series of abuses.
  6. You definitely don't want to mess with the Furies...

    You definitely don’t want to mess with the Furies…

    Andare su tutte le furie (to rampage). This one comes from greek mythology, in which the Furies (Aletto, Tisifone and Megera) were the personification of vengeance and wrath. In the greek and roman society, people used to offer sacrifices to calm their blind and destructive rage, to which no human being could resist. Knowing this, the meaning of the italian expression becomes pretty clear: no need to rampage!

  7. Una vittoria di Pirro (a phyrric victory). Have you ever experienced the awful sensation of winning a battle but losing the war because the cost of your victory is so high that it is unbearable in the long term? Well, that’s exactly how the Epirus king, Pirro felt when defeating the Romans in 280 b.C. at the Eraclea battle.

Clearly this list includes just a small part of the huge amount of monuments left in our language by the Latin world. Nevertheless, is somehow comforting to see how those evidences of the human spirit can be appreciated even in our everyday language.

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

La Città Eterna

Another chapter of our From students to students! Today Mariko, a Japanese Rome enthusiast, describes the Eternal City in her own, very poetic, words.

Roma è la Città Eterna:
ormai lo sanno tutti.
Ma come mai è chiamata “eterna”?
Forse la definirei “antica”.

Roma è una città antica:
ovunque rovine e resti,
monumenti sontuosi di una volta,
adesso pezzi di pietra.

Roma è fatta di pietra:
opera d’arte, sogno degli artisti,
museo all’aperto, tutta la città.
Allora, godiamoci questa bellezza!

Roma è una bella città:
oggi ci sono tanti turisti
meravigliati da questa bellezza,
affascinati da questa dolcezza.

Roma è una città romantica:
ora è conosciuta con i film famosi…
Mettiamoci in questa famosa scenografia,
adesso siamo nella vera Città Eterna!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.