In this post I am not giving you any special, secret, grammar rule or lesson. I just want to respond to my students when they ask me “How long is going to take me to start speaking Italian” or “When will I be able to handle a basic conversation?”
My answer to these questions is always another question: Where are you studying Italian? When are you going to Italy? How do you practice? And what else are you doing other than coming to lessons?
The time you spend learning basic vocabulary when you learn abroad, out of Italy, you can save by just going there. Learning a language is not only about grammar, reading a book, doing exercises.
When you learn in the place where the language is spoken you have a 24 hour-long, free, lesson. You are surrounded by words (e.g. the name of shops, the name of products in a supermarket, newspapers, tv, radio), in a sense it’s a bit like living inside your dictionary. You can watch and listen to people speaking the language. Just go to a bar and order a coffee, sit in a train and listen to people’s conversation. Book a guided tour, take cooking lesson, enter in a shop and start speaking with a sales assistant or an artisan explaining how he makes his artworks. If you want more, live with Italians, share a house or organize a swap, teach your language and in exchange practice Italian.