Watch Movies, Improve Your Italian!


Shorter days, longer nights and chilly temperatures make it the perfect season to cozy up with a good Italian movie.

Most of my students find watching Italian movies an enjoyable experience, but “they talk so fast” (referring to dialog in the films) is a frequent observation, usually followed by this question: “What can I do to increase my comprehension of these films?”

Here’s my advice for a tried-and-true way to employ Italian movies as a vehicle to exponentially expand your understanding of spoken Italian :

  1. Watch as many movies as you can get your hands (or eyes) on, preferably ones that are easily available. (See my picks of Italian movies on Netflix here.)
  2. Choose one of these movies as your “project”. Make it a film that you enjoy so much you’d happily watch it over and over again, because that’s exactly what I’m about to prescribe.
  3. Watch the whole movie several times, while reading the English subtitles, until you have the movie meaning and content memorized.
  4. Now, starting with chapter one (or the first section/scene of the film), turn off the subtitles and (already knowing what is happening in the scene) focus on listening only to the Italian. At this point, because you know exactly what’s going on in the movie plot, you are free to focus on the spoken language. Listen to each chapter or scene several times, focusing first on getting the gist and then gradually on comprehending words and phrases.
  5. If possible, when you first turn off the English subtitles, consider watching with the subtitles switched to Italian.
  6. It might seem like you’re training yourself to be able to understand only this one movie, but stick with it. What you are really doing is using it to train your ear, and this will improve your comprehension skills and spill over to any new movies or programs you listen to in Italian (not to mention actual live people). When it’s time to choose a new movie “project”, if you’ve followed these steps, you’ll be amazed at how much more quickly you are able to understand and get the gist!
  7. Here’s that list of my Italian movie picks on Netflix. Enjoy!

Got any favorite Italian movies? Or listening comprehension suggestions you’d like to share? Love to hear your comments!

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2 Responses to Watch Movies, Improve Your Italian!

  1. Great tips — thank you! Can you believe that after 5+ years of studying Italian, watching movies is still not a big part of my routine? Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Jodina says:

    You’re welcome, prego, Stacy-Anna! Watching movies is one of the most enjoyable “exercises” you can add to your Italian-learning tool box!

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