Category ArchiveLanguages

Study Italian

Next three words

Discover Italian

Ok, then.

If you reach this page you probably are trying to study Italian and this is your second attempt. If not, read the previous article about the “C” sound with vowels A U O and I E.

First, recap

We said that the “C” sound can be hard when followed by A U O and soft when followed by I E.

What does it mean “soft” and “hard”?

Let’s discover what happened when C meets H.

We said before that the sound, when C meets the no/ sound letter H, is transforming C into an hard sound. The easy part is that, if we have memorised that CI CE have a soft sound, it will be easier to memorise that CHi CHe have a hard sound.


So here we are with our new useful words. “Chi” in Italian means “who”

Who (is there)?

Chi (è)?

Usually this is the phrase we use when someone knock to our door. We noticed immediately our new friend “Chi”, but we’re probably asking ourselves what is that E with an accent.

È è

This one, dear reader, is one of the most common errors in Italian written language. And today, with T9 auto- correcting our writings, even more. “È” and “E” are almost the same when you listen to them the first time. To be a bit specific, in Italian we have two different “E”, one with the acute accent and one with the grave accent. Right now it’s all too complicated, so just remember when you’ll find “E” it will mean a conjunction and when you’ll find “È” it will mean “it is”.

Che (cosa è)?

What (is this)?

When you see something for the first time and you want to understand what it is, just ask. “Che” means “What” and it’s used (and abused) in Italian. For now, remember that its core meaning is “what” and we will find it really often.


Here we are, to a new word. Cosa means literally “Thing”. It’s another used and abused word in Italian, so you will find in million different phrases. For what concern right now our lessons, it will mean only “thing”. Check it out, right now it will be easy for you to read the first “C” sound as hard, no?

The S sound

So let’s go a bit further with the sound “S”. This sound has so many rules to be read properly that it will discourage you. So I will give you a first important rule. When the sound “S” is doubled “SS” or at the beginning of a word as in “Sole” (Sun) it will have a hard sound as the sound “C” in English “Cinema” or “See”.

In practice…

Study Italian
Study Italian

 So we saw CI CE as soft sounds and CA CO CU CHI CHE as hard sounds. We can add to this last rule the double CC. It will be strange for you this difference, but it will make sense when you’ll have to listen to a word and transcribe. The difference is between




The first one it will have an hard sound, as we know, as per the sound “K” in English. The second one will have simply an even harder sound, stressing it a bit more. You will read the first one as “eKo” and the second one as “eKKo”. This rule it will lead us to the sound CCH that it will be the same KK sound. You will find CCH always with a vowel before and followed by a vowel.



Occhio will be read as oKKio and Secchio as seKKio. Note that the rule we read before it will help us to read properly “S” at the beginning of a word and followed by vowel as the sound “C” in cinema or “S” in see.

Let’s read

Let’s try to read this words loud guessing what is the pronunciation and then click for it













Next week we will see the last pronunciation of “C” sound and go a bit further. Stay tuned!

First Words_Italian alphabet

The alphabet

First words

Let’s have some old- fashioned recap, now. Let’s start with the alphabet.  As we said before, there is a classic method for everything we decide to study. A classic way you can study the alphabet is the repetition of the sound of a language. In this case, the purpose is to give us a small base to start with.

As mall Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

A deductive approach

Rather than scaring children with a foreign language, now we want them to approach about it as a game. A deductive game, as for a Sherlock story in which we never know how’s going to end it till the end. While reproducing new sounds for us was a stressful matter, for them are new friends. These friends are met step by step in a nursery rhyme, for example. A small pièce teatrale is their motivation and the grammar. The grammar? Certainly important, the grammar is approached as for a native speaker, without confusion, without strict rules. There will be time for that.

Which method for which students?

First of all, the target is important. I always remember an old French teacher which wanted to teach us a nursery rhyme about a small duck she wrote. Obviously, we were 12 yo, so adult enough to have hairs in the armpit and that story was just hilarious for us. No way the small duck could teach us anything.  So the moral here is the lesson is as important as understanding the need of the target we have in front. The first step is to approach in a deductive way, as small modern Sherlock.

the dinosaur's method

Teaching, a method

–read in Italian–


A classic method

When learning a new language, the method is crucial. I could tell you Jespersen, or Skinner, even Chomsky, but there would be only names. Rather than doing that, it’s easier to see how teaching got close to win the battle against foreign language. First of all, we thought the best way to teach was to follow rigid guidelines. It seems like the teacher needed to let you speak like a book. The result? You were not going to speak at all. So the method developed, but the main idea was still to let you speak as a parrot.


A cool method, even nowadays, is the one called Parrotism, used mainly by the old school teachers. In a word, dinosaurs. As in Jurassic Park, but instead of  plants or other dinosaurs, they love reptita iuvant and white and black grammars with the smallest characters ever. If it was still by the law, they’d love to slap sb in the face. Errors? Na, erased. I supposed mainly because it reminds about the slap. The grammar slap, as to say.