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Accent, accent, accent… This is one of the main problems we have when learning a new language. How to get rid of our English accent when speaking Italian? There are many reasons to improve your Italian accent and just as many ways. In this article you’ll discover:

  • Why it’s important to have a good Italian accent and how to get it;
  • Which words you should learn first;
  • How to pronounce Italian vowels;
  • How to pronounce “t” and “d” sounds;
  • How to pronounce double consonants;
  • How to pronounce “gn”, “gl”, “ch” and “gh” sounds;
  • How to practice Italian online with Global General.

If you want to learn how to have a perfect Italian pronunciation and accent, read on!

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Why It’s Important to Have a Good Italian Accent and How to Get It

When learning a language, pronunciation is just essential. Indeed, even if you perfectly know the grammar and vocabulary of a language, if you can’t pronounce them properly, it will be just useless. Italian pronunciation can be pretty difficult, since it’s very different from English. Indeed, even if some Italian words look similar to English when you write them, pronunciation is a different story: there are loads of differences between the two languages. Learning how to pronounce Italian words is essential to read, understand Italian speakers and speak Italian correctly. So, you absolutely need to learn Italian pronunciation and its rules if you want to be able to communicate with Italian people! When you visit Italy, having a good Italian accent will help you understand and be understood by people, on many occasions: at the restaurant, when visiting museums, when meeting people at the pub, asking for directions, at the supermarket, and so on. In the next sections we’ll give you some tips to learn Italian pronunciation in a fast and efficient way.

Let’s take a look at them!

#1 Which Words Should You Learn First?

The first thing to do is understand where to start. Since Italian it’s a pretty difficult language, with long words and many sounds we don’t have in English, starting with very complicated words would be counter-productive: you would make avoidable mistakes, lose confidence in yourself, and eventually give up on learning Italian.

First and foremost, you must start with the basics: learning the Italian alphabet and the pronunciation of each letter. Afterwards, you have to start with short, easy words. Try to start with everyday vocabulary, such as greetings, animals, and so on. This way, you’ll learn useful vocabulary and you’ll be able to pronounce it properly. When you’re comfortable with it, you can try to learn more difficult words, starting from what you’ve learnt with the easier ones!

Here are some examples of easy words you should learn to pronounce first:

Per favorePlease
GrazieThank you
PregoYou’re welcome
Mi dispiaceI’m sorry
Buon giornoGood morning
Buona seraGood evening
Buona notteGood night
Non capiscoI don’t understand

Try to listen to a native speaker (online there are many dictionaries with audio tracks) and repeat after him or her.

#2 How to Pronounce Italian Vowels

There are only 5 vowels in Italian (A, E, I, O, U) and a total of 7 Italian vowel sounds (while in English we have around 15 vowel sounds). There are three one-sound Italian vowels: a, i, u. Learning the Italian vowels and their pronunciation is a great way to improve your accent and make it sound more natural.

  • Italian “a” is very open. For many American English speakers, it is similar to the short “a” in “papa”. Try to say castello (castle), mare (sea), pane (bread).
  • Italian “i” has a long “e” sound, as in the word “creepy”. Italian “u” has the sound of “oo” in “boot”. Examples: pino (pine), vino (wine), punto (dot).
  • The vowels “e” and “o” are two-sound vowels. It means that they have two different sounds: an “open” and a “closed” sound. Open “e” is similar to English short “e”, as in “bet”; the Italian sound is maybe a bit more open. Example: perché (why), me (me). Closed “e” has a sound like the “a” in chaotic. Try to say pera (pear). Open “o” is like the vowel in “awe” if you say it without any hint of diphthong. Example: però (but). Closed “o” rarely occurs in English. It’s a closed sound we can find in Italian words when the “o” is the last letter of a word and has no accent, like in bello (beautiful).

#3 How to Pronounce “T” and “D” Sounds

“T” and “d” are different from their English equivalents.

The “t” is not aspirated. The difference seems subtle to many English speakers, but not to Italians. To get a more Italian sound for both letters, your tongue should just touch the back of your teeth, and it should be relaxed, not tense and pointed, at the front. Example: tutto (everything)

“D” is very close to the American D in dog, but the tongue pushes a little harder against the teeth causing a somewhat more explosive sound than in English. Example: dormire (to sleep)

#4 How to Pronounce Double Consonants

Double consonants in Italian should take noticeably longer to say than the corresponding single consonants. Just hold the position of your mouth when the consonant is formed for a bit, then release. You can also take less time on the preceding vowel. We can divide double consonants in two groups: those that have an apparently more forceful pronunciation and those that just have a longer sound than single consonants.

  • Double consonants pronounced more forcefully: -pp-; -bb-; -tt-; -dd-; -zz; -cc; -gg. Examples: mappa (map), abbaiare (to bark), cotto (cooked), addio (goodbye), pozzanghera (puddle), cozza (mussel), fiocco (bow), aggressivo (aggressive).
  • Double consonants pronounced longer: -ll-; rr-; -mm-; -nn-; -ff-; -vv-; -ss-. Examples: colla (glue), arrivare (to arrive), mamma (mum), annaffiare (to water), ovvio (obvious), assolutamente (absolutely)


#5 How to Pronounce “GN”, “GL”, “CH” and “GH” Sounds

There are some sounds in Italian that just don’t exist in English. That’s why they could seem a bit difficult in the beginning. But don’t worry, learn them right away and you won’t have any problems in the future.

The sounds “gn” and “gl” absolutely don’t exist in English, so it might take you some time to learn how to pronounce them. How is it pronounced in Italian? In “gn” the “g” is silent and the “n” is hard. Try to pronounce it in the word agnello (lamb). The sound “gl”: “g” is almost silent and “l” is the focus. It can remind of the letter “y” in “yak”, but the “l” is stronger. Try to pronounce the word paglia (straw) or pagliaccio (clown).

Other sounds we don’t have in English are “ch” and “gh”. The sound “ch” is always followed by “i” or “e”. It is pronounced like “k” in “key”. You can find it, for example, in the words chiamare (to call) and perché (why). The sound “gh” just like “ch” is always followed by the vowels “i” or “e”. It is pronounced like “g” in “ give” or “get”. You can find it in the words ghianda (acorn) and ghepardo (cheetah).

Eager to learn more Italian sounds? Here they are!

Other sounds you should learn in Italian are:

  • Sc-”: before “a, o, and u”, it sounds like “sk” in “sky”. For example, scarpe (shoes). But if it’s before “i” or “e”, it has a “sh” sound as in “shower”. For example in the word scendere (to go down).
  • Qu-”: “q” and “u” are pronounced separately like “ku”, in “quote”. A few sample words are: quadro (painting), quindi (so), questo (this) and acqua (water).

How to Practice Italian Online With Global General

If you want to learn Italian grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, Global General is what you are looking for! This e-learning method developed by GlobalExam is tailored for beginners and intermediate-level students to learn Italian completely online, in a dynamic, fun, efficient and personalised way. Global General offers 5 languages: Italian, English, Spanish, French and German. Every language goes from the A1 to the B2 level, according to the CEFR standards. Here’s what’s included in our unique program:

  • Flashcards to help you learn new vocabulary and train your memory in a fast and fun way!
  • Simulations to practice all of your language skills in real context, for all the competencies, through speaking, reading and listening exercises;
  • Exercises for grammar, vocabulary and listening comprehension;
  • A “did you know” section to deepen your knowledge of the language;
  • 5000 detailed corrections in your language;
  • Personalised feedback from our native-speaking coaches;
  • Online conferences with our native coaches, with a practical component where you’ll be required to complete some exercises and you’ll be given personalized corrections;
  • Validation of the acquired competencies every 5 simulations with certificates;
  • Scores for every exercise to help you understand your level and progress;
  • 150 hours of unique content;
  • 500 audio tracks.

Why Global General?

With our all-inclusive method you will reach fluency in a flash!

Global General will help you learn Italian at your own pace: you can study wherever you want and whenever you want,at your own pace and according to your needs! Choose which skills you want to practice more and receive personalised corrections and feedback from our native coaches.

If you want a professional yet dynamic method and if you are looking for quick results, you should definitely choose Global General!

Sign up on our website and start learning Italian today with Global General by GlobalExam!