Book Review: Complete Idiot’s Guide To Learning Italian

The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Learning Italian, by Gabrielle Ann Euvino

Like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning French [1], this particular book is a humorous take on learning a foreign language.  The book is (in what appears to be a common format for that series on learning languages) divided into five parts and numerous smaller chapters, filled with lots of amusing references and quirky collections of words, be they words about romance, or antipasti one would find in a taverna.  As a whole, similar things could be said about the Guide to Learning Italian as could be said about the one to learning French.  The series as a whole combines humor and a topical analysis (that aids in memory and makes the books enjoyable to read) with a rigorous practice of the language.

The organization of the book is straightforward, introducing with a section on Essentiali:  The Basics (containing chapters on Italian Immersion, the pronunciation of letters and numbers, cognates, nouns and articles, and adjectives and adverbs).  Part Two deals with the building blocks of language (regular verbs, important irregular verbs, terms about time, travel terms (and the imperative tense), modal verbs (and hotel expressions), and sightseeing terms.  Part Three deals with La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), with chapters on pleasure activities (pane, vino, e Ciccolata–bread, wine, and chocolate), dining out, shopping (and object pronouns), festivals (and the Present Perfect tense), and the arts (and the imperfect tense).  The fourth and final section deals with Minutiae like Reflexive verbs (taught with a look at the body), telephone calls and romance (along with the future tense), home and the conditional tense, and money, business, and technology (along with the subjunctive mood and the remote past tense).  The book closes with the usual appendices on grammar, words, and further resources.

As a whole, this book, and the entire series of books in it, understands that one learns a lot more when one enjoys the process.  There are plenty of other competent language books on the market [2] that can teach Italian, but to really enjoy the language, it pays to have a sense of humor, to include personal stories, and to make it fun.  That which is enjoyed is not a chore to learn.  This lesson is understood well by the Complete Idiot’s guides (which is why those who are not idiots use them), and is a lesson applicable to many areas of instruction.  As such this book comes with a high recommendation.



About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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