The audio part of a language learning course is probably the most important part in my opinion, because it is aimed at teaching you how to speak in Italian (and understand people speaking to you in Italian). Ultimately, this is why you want to learn a new language – to speak to people.
Being able to speak in Italian to Italian speaking people is not only the point of learning the language but it motivates and makes a student learn quicker.
To expand on these points, if you can communicate with an Italian speaking person, your confidence will soar and you will begin to believe that you actually can speak Italian. Confidence is half the battle when it comes to learning a new language.
And it goes without saying that the more you speak to people the faster your Italian language skills will develop. For instance, every time you have a conversation is like having a mini Italian lesson. You can practice things you have already learned on ask questions about certain vocabulary. It all good once you talk to people without being shy or self conscious.
I think the Rocket Italian audio course is very good. It comprises 33 lessons lasting around 20-30 minutes each. The audio quality is excellent. You can put the audios onto an mp3 player or Cd’s so that you can listen to them at your own convenience.
The basic format of each lesson is a scene involving the narrator of the course (Alex) and his native Italian speaking friend (Maria). There are 6 different themes with 4 to 5 lessons in each theme.
The basic premise is Alex and Maria traveling through Italy. So you will be presented with situations and scenarios that a typical person in Italy might experience – visiting famous cities and landmarks, like Florence or Vesuvius. You will also listen to scenes that a typical tourist might go through.
So for example, they might be booking into a hotel or wandering round a market. They will go through the typical things you would say and do and some other questions you might ask when checking in.
After the conversation, the lesson works through all the phrases that were said. It explains new words, how the grammar works and how you would pronounce the phrases and sentences.
The narrator will guide the teaching and explain concepts and meanings of Italian words.
The native Italian speaker (Maria, the creator of the course) speaks all the Italian conversations. She will say a sentence and then say each of the words or pronunciation chunks separately so that the listener can repeat the pronunciation after her.
This is similar to the Pimsleur method in the way it teaches pronunciation. It breaks down each word to the syllable so that it is easy to copy the Italian pronunciation. It can be a little slow going but it is an effective way to get a good accent.
Maria (the native Italian speaker) says all the sentences once and then pauses so that you can say the sentence aloud. They stress at the beginning of the course that this is the only way to do it if you want to be successful. I tend to agree with them on this point. Only by saying something out loud will it sink into your head. Saying it repeatedly will ensure it stays there and can be recalled when you need it.
At the end of each lesson the narrator summarizes the main points of the lesson. They may run through parts of the original conversation again and ask you questions. The questions generally try to include parts of the previous lessons along with the new stuff.
The course is advertised as an interactive course. What this means is that you must say the words or sentences out aloud when instructed by the narrator. For instance, if the narrator asks a question, there will be a pause that allows you to answer, then the native Italian speaker will give the correct answer.
You can also click on the Practice tab to listen to the words and phrases spoken in Italian and then say them yourself with the Rocket Record system.
Another form of interactivity is to take the quiz in the My Level tab. This tests you on specific words or phrases in the lesson so it can reinforce what you have just learned.
This is a good audio course that starts with the basics like meeting and greeting and goes through to more complicated sentences and grammar. Many of the scenarios are things that people traveling in Italy would find useful, like booking into hotels, eating at restaurants and lessons about Italian life and culture.
I think the course will boost your confidence and motivate you to speak to real Italian people. Once you are comfortable relating to Italian speaking people, learning the language will become easier and you will soon attain fluency.