Why Improving Your Italian Should Be a Daily Habit
It Keeps Language Concepts Fresh
Ever had the feeling that every time you begin a study session, it feels like the first time? It’s as if you can’t remember what you learned previously, so you repeat the same basic lessons, vocabulary and grammar rules over and over.
If you’re taking long breaks between Italian study sessions, it’s harder to make information stick. One of the biggest reasons for adopting an Italian habit is that it requires you to practice the language and review concepts every single day, so you won’t forget so easily. It’s a daily opportunity to hammer lessons into your long-term memory, allowing you to continuously move forward in your learning.
Learning German is a process of building on the concepts you’ve mastered as you learn new ones. It’s linking what you already know with the things you’ll learn. So you’ve got to practice on a daily basis and get some momentum going.
It Logs the Hours
If you’re good at anything, it’s at least partly because you’ve spent a great deal of time practicing it. Basketball, martial arts, Candy Crush, you name it. It’s the same with acquiring a language. The more you do it, the better you become.
A daily German habit will naturally get you more hours learning the language. It may be as simple as learning a new word every morning or watching a German flick after work, but the more you engage with the language, the better you’ll be at absorbing pronunciations, recognizing grammatical relationships and sussing out the nuances of the language.
Babies practice their first language the same way. There isn’t a day when they’re not working on linguistic skills, whether it’s babbling, mimicking or attentively looking at lips and listening to adults talk. Then when they’re ready, they blow everybody’s minds when they deliver their first words, first phrases and first grammatically sound sentences.
Follow the example of babies. Log in those hours by making language practice a daily habit.
It’s Highly Immersive
One of the best ways to learn German is to visit Germany and immerse yourself in the language. That way, you get exposure to as much Italian content and conversation practice as possible. Unfortunately, that’s really not an option for everybody, considering it requires a serious investment of time and money. But you can mimic that experience with a daily German habit.
When you’re in Germany, what do you think you’re there for? You’re essentially putting yourself on a daily dose of the German language.
From hearing native speakers go about their day, to talking to one in order to buy ingredients for tomorrow’s breakfast, to watching German TV, you’re going to be picking up some Italian because it’s being used all around you, everywhere you go.
No matter where you are in the world, you can imitate this experience by exposing yourself to Italian content on a daily basis. Thanks to the internet, this is quite possible—we’ll cover some great immersive techniques later in this post.
Immersion. It’s one of the most important reasons to make a habit of learning German every day.
The 7 Daily Habits That Infinitely Improve Your German
1. Write Daily Notes in German
Our memories aren’t perfect. That’s why we need to write stuff down.
Have a German notebook that you carry around. This is where you’ll write the bits and pieces of German information that you encounter daily. Here are some scenarios you might use it for:
You’re watching a German classic film and you hear an unfamiliar word. Write it down so you can Google it later.
You’re watching an Italian grammar lesson on YouTube. Write down any new rules you learn that you would otherwise forget.
You’re reading long sections of a German textbook. Summarize what you’re learning in your notebook so it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other.
You’re unwinding after a long day. Write down a diary entry for the day for some informal German practice.
Do this on a daily basis and your notebook will soon contain the most personally interesting and instructive information about the language.
But it’s not just about documenting your German learning. The act of writing itself is highly beneficial for language learners. It bolsters the learning process. Researchers have found that there’s just something about the act of writing, the specific strokes creating words on paper, that makes the brain remember more.
With that in mind, you should be writing in your German journal as often as possible.
2. Listen to German Content While Doing Mundane Chores
Every day, we have little tasks that really don’t require that much focused attention—like waiting in line at the ATM, being stuck in heavy traffic, doing the dishes or standing on a commuter train.
Instead of just listening to music tracks and beats on your phone, you can utilize these little bits of time for learning German.
Listen to German music instead. There are language lessons to be picked up from listening to songs in the target language. They not only attune your brain to the cadences of the Italian language, they can provide melodic context to words and phrases, making them easier to digest.
Or if you’d like to improve your listening comprehension while also enjoying a good story, you can download an audiobook in German to your iPhone or other portable player.
And it’s not all just about listening. If you have free use of your hands and can view what’s on your phone, you can work with flashcard apps like Anki and SuperMemo to beef up your vocabulary.
Stick to these habits, and before you know it, you’ll have made drastic improvements in your German. And it didn’t even cost you any additional time.
3. Change the Language Settings of Your Gadgets to German
I’m guessing that you’re using your smartphone, laptop and other gadgets on a daily basis. One of the quickest ways to have regular language immersion (without even trying) is to change the language settings of your gadgets to German.
In order to do this, you’ll need to open your device’s settings, go to the language section and pick German from the list. Now, at first, you’ll feel a sudden urge to undo what you’ve just done and go back to English. Resist this urge.
The beauty of this trick is that it gradually teaches you to think in the target language. You’ll ultimately be able to navigate your smartphone like any native speaker.
And while you’re at it, why not change the language settings of your social media accounts into German? Imagine: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all in German. Here’s how to do it:
For Twitter, click the profile icon located on the upper right corner of your screen. Choose “Settings” from the menu. You’ll then be shown your account settings. Find the “Language” section and click on the drop down menu.
Choose “Deutsch.” After picking the language, you need to scroll down in order to save the change. A prompt will then ask you to provide your password. Type your password and click “Save Changes” and you now have Twitter in German.
For Facebook, click on the triangle on the upper right corner of your screen. Choose “Settings.” Then click on “Language” from the panel that appears on the left side of your screen. From “What language do you want to use Facebook in,” click “Edit.” Choose “Deutsch” from the given options. Click “Save Changes” and you’re good to go.
For Instagram, tap the personal profile icon located on the lower right corner of your screen. Then tap the gear icon found on the upper right corner. Slide down and find the “Language” menu and pick “Deutsch.” Instagram will need to restart in order to institute the change.
Now you’re getting into the groove of native speakers. Plus, you’re already spending hours on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram anyway—might as well learn Italian while you’re at it!
4. Punctuate the Beginning and End of Your Day with an German Review
How you start and end your day will play a big role in how quickly you acquire German. Consistency is key here.
You now have a notebook full of personally relevant German lessons and information, right? Because you adopted that first habit of writing notes down daily. We started off our list on that one because it’s that important. But it’s just an initial step.
You have to be intimately acquainted with what you’ve written. There’s no use having a notebook filled with some of the most important language learning information if you’re not going to make the most out of it.
Open each day by reviewing what you wrote in your journal the day before. Do this before your day heats up—before your schedule becomes hectic. Close your day with another session, especially focusing on the content written that day. This twice-a-day habit will keep concepts fresh, averting memory lapses.
To really get the most out of this habit, you’ll want your daily reviews to include some focused, active learning. Here are some exercises to get you started:
Make flashcards out of the vocabulary you’ve written in your journal. Review these flashcards every evening before you go to sleep.
Read your journal entries aloud. This will add speaking and pronunciation practice to your reading and writing.
Return to old notes. Add more annotations, create clearer summaries or sharpen insights based on what you’ve since learned.
But hey, don’t just limit the review to your own notebook.
You can also work with the torrent of German materials available online.
A great resource for daily practice with authentic content is FluentU. Accessible via the website or app, FluentU takes real-world videos, from news to movie trailers to inspiring talks, and turns them into language learning experiences.
With FluentU’s upcoming Italian program, you’ll get interactive captions so you can learn new words easily and in context. Plus, FluentU remembers what you’ve learned and recommends personalized content, which is great for building on each day’s practice.