Languages › Italian Learning the Italian Alphabet Starting With the Basics Share Flipboard Email Print Guido Cavallini / Getty Images Languages History & Culture Vocabulary Grammar By Michael San Filippo Italian Expert M.A., Italian Studies, Middlebury College B.A., Biology, Northeastern University Michael San Filippo co-wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian History and Culture. He is a tutor of Italian language and culture. our editorial process Michael San Filippo Updated July 03, 2019 If you choose to learn the Italian language, you'll need to start by learning it's alphabet. When you have an innumerable amount of other “useful” languages to choose from, why would you choose Italian -- a language spoken by about 59 million people, compared to, let’s say Mandarin’s 935 million Despite the fact that every day more and more Italians are learning English, there is still a huge appeal to learn la bella lingua. Many people feel drawn to Italian because it’s a part of their ancestry, and learning Italian can be a great tool to utilize as you dig deeper into your family history. While you can do a lot of research in English, actually visiting your great grandfather’s birth town in Naples will require more than just a list of survival phrases to truly get a feel for the locals and hear stories about what the town was like while he was alive. What’s more, being able to understand and tell stories to your living family members will will add a depth and a richness to your relationships. Learning the Alphabet The Italian alphabet (l'alfabeto) contains 21 letters: Letters / Names of the lettersa ab bic cid die ef effeg gih accai il ellem emmen enneo op piq cur erres esset tiu uv vuz zeta The following five letters are found in foreign words: Letters / Names of the lettersj i lungok kappaw doppia vux icsy ipsilon Learning the Basics If you're pressed for time, focus on the fundamentals. Study the Italian ABC's and Italian numbers, learn how to pronounce Italian words and ask questions in Italian, and brush up on the euro (after all, you'll have to reach into your portafoglio—wallet—eventually). However, the quickest and most effective way to learn Italian is the total-immersion method. This means traveling to Italy for an extended period, studying at any of the thousands of language schools throughout the country, and speaking only Italian. Many programs include a home-stay component that enhances the cultural exchange. You literally eat, breathe, and dream in Italian. Whether it's reading an Italian textbook, taking a language course at a university or local language school, completing workbook exercises, listening to a tape or CD, or conversing with a native Italian speaker. Spend some time every day reading, writing, speaking, and listening to Italian to become accustomed to the target language. Slowly but surely, your confidence will build, your accent will become less pronounced, your vocabulary will expand, and you'll be communicating in Italian. Maybe you'll even start speaking Italian with your hands!