Are you a cinema lover? Do you like Italian movies? In this article, I am going to give you some tips about how to practice your Italian watching Italian movies and tv series. Keep reading and learn Italian!
A practical and fun way to practice Italian is to watch films and TV series in the original language. This is a popular topic with my students, who are always looking for useful information and new advice. I also happened to talk to students who, although they already had a rather high level, complained about the difficulty of understanding Italian dialogues.
Why does this happen? Why is it that they manage to have brilliant conversations, to use complex grammatical structures and to feel like masters of Italian when they talk to me and yet, they lose this confidence when watching a movie?
In my opinion, there are two things to consider:
1. Background noise
Movies in their original language always have background noise. If the movie is shot outdoors, you will hear the traffic, the whistle of a train or people chatting. These noises present an obstacle that prevent the listener from a clear understanding of the dialogues.
Let me give you a practical example. A student of mine talked to me about an Italian TV series that he saw, called Baby, informing me about some problems he found while listening to the first episode. Therefore, I proposed that we listen to this audio together to identify the most critical points. And guess what? Honestly, the listening test was difficult for both of us.
Why was it so complicated to understand those parts of the film? Simple: the environment in which the scene took place was a disco and the music overshadowed the words just whispered by the actresses.
So, you can easily understand that watching a video like this, for someone who is not a native speaker, becomes a colossal challenge.
2. The pronunciation
Italian movies and TV series are often full of accents and dialectal inflections that depend on where they are set as well.
Have you ever tried to watch the popular TV series Il commissario Montalbano or Gomorra? Were you so excited to test your Italian before watching these movies? And after, did you feel frustrated and disappointed? Don’t worry, you just chose the wrong resources with which to start.
Let me explain better: Il Commissario Montalbano is a series set in Sicily, and despite being acted in Italian, it has very strong dialectal inflections. Furthermore, who watching this film had no difficulty in understanding what the peculiar character of Catarella says?? Trust me, most of the time Italians have no idea what he is saying either!
Gomorra is a different story. It uses Neapolitan dialect in order to make the film more credible: it would be strange indeed to see criminals speaking with perfect diction and refined Italian. The Italians themselves had quite a few problems in following the dialogues, so much so that we also had to use Italian subtitles.
Is there a solution?
So, is there a solution? Would it be better to not watch Italian films at all and to concentrate on another type of material? Absolutely not. There are beautiful Italian films and it would be a real shame to miss out on them.
Start practicing with TV series and dubbed movies. There are so many of them and you won’t have any problem finding them because in Italy everything is dubbed. I also want you to notice that the choice between movies or TV shows depends only on your preferences.
This advice I just gave you brings with it advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see what they are:
- the sound is clear and not confused with the background noises.
- the diction you hear is perfect, without dialectal inflections and without particular accents: in short, a textbook pronunciation.
- what you hear is extremely clear but be careful, if you go around Italy, unless you are dealing with actors, you will not find people with such perfect diction.
- the Italian language is the same from north to south, but Italians’ pronunciation changes a lot from one area to another. For this, you will have to be ready to exercise your ear and get used to the pronunciation of the place where you are.
A little tip
Now it’s time to give you a little tip. Start practicing with dubbed movies and TV series: American TV series are the most popular, but you can also find other resources from other countries.
When you feel more confident and a little bit more comfortable with the language, start experimenting. Look for Italian movies that might interest you whether it be for the plot or for the actors, and listen. Even if initially you struggle a little with understanding dialogues, don’t worry. With some time and some practice, this language will become more and more familiar, and eventually, you will be able to master Italian.
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