Kristina Olson PHD – Learning Italian Step by Step and Region by Region
Kristina Olson, PhD
Italian is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. To learn Italian is to open a door to a people and a culture that have produced some of the world’s greatest thinkers, artists, and innovators.
InstitutionGeorge Mason University
Alma materColumbia University
From the masterworks of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Dante, and Verdi to the dazzling panorama of Roman life in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Italian culture is passionate, groundbreaking, and timeless. Italian art, cuisine, cinema, technology, and fashion are mainstays of our contemporary world, and Italy remains one of the most magnetic and popular destinations for global travelers.
With its musicality, sensuality, and rich expressiveness, Italian is one of the most beautiful languages in the world—as well as the doorway to one of the world’s most iconic cultures.
What better way to know this magnificent culture than through the extraordinary beauty of its language?
If you’d like to learn to speak Italian, and delve into the wonders of Italian culture, The Great Courses’ Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region is the ideal place to start. Adding to our cadre of other popular language programs, this exciting course presents a carefully chosen learning system that is both fun and highly effective for adult learners.
Professor Kristina Olson of George Mason University, an acclaimed teacher and scholar of Italian language and literature, has designed this course with a core premise: Italian is inseparable from Italy itself, and to understand the language, you must understand the “Bel Paese”—the beautiful country.
As a country to discover, Italy offers the fabulous cities of Rome, Genoa, Venice, Florence, and many more, as well as the romantic beauties of Tuscany, Umbria, Calabria, and 17 other fascinating and diverse regions. In Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region, you’ll not only gain a solid grasp of the fundamentals of spoken Italian, but you’ll also take a grand tour of Italy’s 20 regions. You’ll practice the language itself through studying and exploring the glorious cultural riches of Italy.
An inspiring and dynamic teacher, Professor Olson makes Italian directly accessible, grounding you in the core elements of Italian grammar, vocabulary, and usage, and providing substantial practice in speaking, comprehension, and reading. You may be amazed to discover that within the first half of the course, you’re reading substantial texts describing each region in Italy and its culture—and that you have the skills to understand them.
Starting from the beginning, you’ll build conversational skills step by step through exercises, dialogues, games, and dramatic scenarios, both in the video lessons and in your course workbook. Along the way, you’ll learn many wonderful expressions that make Italian so delightful to speak and hear, and you’ll become familiar with the vibrant hand gestures that the Italians are famous for.
Whether you want to learn Italian in order to travel to Italy, to converse with Italian-speaking friends, or to connect with your own Italian roots, this course will teach you what you need to know, and more.
Enjoy the Thrill of Speaking Italian
Successful language teaching involves strategic choices regarding how to present the material to the learner, and in which order. In these 24 lively and engaging lessons, Professor Olson demonstrates remarkable skill in acquainting you with Italian grammar and vocabulary, starting from ground zero, such that you can see and grasp the structure of the language readily and easily.
The lessons teach you the building blocks of conversational fluency in Italian, such as these:
- Learn to express actions, thoughts, and feelings by working with verbs such as essere (to be),avere (to have), fare (to do), andare (to go), and volere (to want).
- Gain the basis for facility with all verbs by learning the three verb conjugations in Italian, for verbs ending in -are, as in amare (to love); -ere, as in leggere (to read); and -ire, as in partire (to leave).
- Learn to tell time and to speak about time in Italian, as well as to count and use numbers;
- Develop the tools to speak about the present, the past, and the future, by practicing the present indicative tense (as in “I eat”), the present progressive (“I am eating”), the basic past tense (“I ate/have eaten”), the imperfect tense (“I was eating”), and the future tense (“I will eat”).
- Discover how to describe the places you visit in Italy and have real conversations by delving into Italian nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, noting how the forms of nouns and adjectives change to reflect gender and number.
- Learn vocabulary on numerous useful subjects, from social greetings, eating and drinking, and the calendar to geography and climate, art and architecture, sports and outdoor activities, the family, the human body, and more.
- Learn to express likes and dislikes, affirmative and negative statements, and to ask and answer questions—essential tools for everyday conversations.
Throughout the course, graphics, diagrams, and animations clearly illustrate the material at hand.
Discover Italy’s 20 Magical Regions
It’s been said that Italy is a living art museum, not only in the legendary beauty of its visual art, but of its towns and cities—its sublimely crafted architecture and townscapes, from medieval Siena and Bologna to the glories of Venice, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In this course, you’ll travel the entire Italian peninsula, taking in its exquisite urban settings, superlative landscapes, and characteristic culture through hundreds of vivid color images, as you learn to speak the language.
Among Italy’s stunningly diverse regions, you’ll discover:
- Campania—Take the measure of this storied area of Italy, containing the beloved city of Naples, historic Pompeii, and the scenic Amalfi coast, and practice describing its architecture, history, and natural beauty;
- The “Marches”—In this richly endowed region, practice your conversational skills as you discover the birthplace of Raphael and Rossini, with its imposing medieval castles, breathtaking mountain scenery, and world-famous artisanal industries;
- Il Veneto—Treasures of Il Veneto include alpine vistas; the beauties of Lake Garda, Venice, and Verona; and the artistic legacy of Palladio, Giotto, and Titian. Expand your linguistic knowledge in speaking about star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet and Francesca and Paolo; and
- Tuscany (Toscana)—One of Italy’s most famous and popular regions for travelers; learn the passato prossimo (past) tense as you reflect on the Renaissance jewel of Florence; the region’s food and wine; and the genius of Boccaccio, Michelangelo, and
Learn This Glorious Language through Its Culture
Throughout these lessons, Professor Olson introduces you to the rich diversity of Italian life, including one of its most internationally recognizable cultural touchstones: food. You’ll learn to speak about Italian cuisine and food products, from Ragù alla Bolognese (Emilia-Romagna) and Perugina chocolates (Umbria) to the celebrated wines of Piemonte.
You’ll also delve into Italian cinema by speaking about landmark films such as Ermanno Olmi’s Il Posto, Francesco Rosi’s Tre Fratelli, and Antonioni’s Deserto Rosso. And you’ll explore historical culture in ways such as describing Botticelli’s daily routine during the Renaissance and tracing the writing of Carlo Levi’s celebrated novel Christ Stopped at Eboli.
The course workbook goes hand in hand with the video lessons, offering you key translations, useful vocabulary, supplemental activities, grammar review, maps of Italy, and even a listing of suggested films and novels by region.
In Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region, you’ll enjoy an unforgettable immersion into Italy’s splendorous language and culture. Andiamo! (Let’s go!)
Average 32 minutes each
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