Cover Image: Unlocking Italian with Paul Noble

Unlocking Italian with Paul Noble

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Member Reviews

This book uses a really clever and novel approach to learning a language. Paul Noble quickly gets you speaking useful phrases in Italian rather than the not so useful phrases you may have learnt on a traditional Italian course.
I know pretty much no Italian aside from yes, no and thank you and so have plenty to learn.
The book starts with explaining to you just how many words are very similar in Italian to English and how we can use simple rules to move from one language to another (in most cases).

This is a book you have to work through from the beginning, page by page, it's is structured in particular way to aid learning. Each chapter slowly builds up a multicomponent phrase. As you go through the chapter, the author asks you to cover the answers written in green with a bookmark or piece of card, to get your brain working and so that you actually work through the multiple micro-tasks. Each answer in Italian has a pronunciation guide as well as the actual written answer. There's no active memorisation required but the use of spaced repetition gets you effortlessly remembering how to say all sorts of different phrases. 

At the end of each chapter are increasingly long word/phrase lists that the author encourages you to keep going through until you only get 3 wrong. That sounds hard, but the way you're taught to put phrases together and the spaced repetition actually makes this much easier than it sounds. Noble also reminds you to not try and do too much and that if it takes all week to get through the word list, that's ok.

You start learning how to put together the phrase " I spent the weekend in Rome – and wow, the weather was fantastic" and end with being able to hold a conversation including things like " I’m sorry, I was in the middle of preparing dinner when you arrived, so I was a bit distracted." Unusually you actually start using the past tense before the present one, but it makes sense when you think about the kind of things you usually want to talk about.

There are no long list of grammar rules to memorise, instead there are really useful tips like how to remember when you change a verb ending to match gender and when you don’t, and ways to remember how Italian phrases are put together. For example, " I’m moving" in English is " myself I transfer" if you literally translated the Italian. Similarly, " when my mother arrived" in English, is literally translated from the Italian as “when my mother is arrived".

The book ends with ideas on where to go next as this book really is just a stepping stone to further learning although a really useful one. It definitely builds confidence and makes you realise learning a new language does not have to be as difficult as many courses make it. School may have you put off learning languages for life, but this book shows it doesn’t have to be that dull and difficult! I will definitely look up Noble’s audio course as this way of learning does seem much more sensible and useful than the usual ways!

Whether you are totally new to Italian, learnt a little at school but not used it since, or know some Italian but don’t feel like you know anything actually useful, this is a great little book to get you going and feeling confident about learning and starting to Speak in Italian.
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I’ve listened to Paul Nobles audiobooks and wanted to try en ebook too to see how I fared with the different format. He makes things easy and I find his approach to languages logical and easy to take on, I’m nowhere near conversational yet but feel like I can grasp things better and I understand what I’m saying and the sentence structure.
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An awesome book, easy to read, understand and follow. I love learning languages and will definitely use this to improve my language skills!
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I often watch foreign language TV programmes with subtitles but just sometimes it would be nice to actually understand what they were saying myself without that need to read anymore.  This seemed the perfect book for that purpose, especially as my favourite programme is Inspector Montalbano set in Sicily. 

This book keeps everything simple and focuses on you learning words as opposed to simply memorising them and seeing their is a pattern to the words being taught.  Some are quite close to their English equivalents but have a standard type of ending in Italian, so makes it quite easy to remember.

Each chapter starts with a new set of building blocks. alongside tips and tricks throughout and each chapter is closed with a thorough summary and includes all that you have learned to date. This is really useful as it means that you don’t have to constantly flick back to previous chapters. 

I enjoyed using this book to build up my Italian and will certainly be listening out next time my favourite programme is on to see what I can decipher.

I received this book from Netgalley in return for a honest review.
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Unlocking Italian with Paul Noble is a delightful little book. Noble’s tone is friendly and helpful, and it feels like he’s letting you in on a secret that will change your life.

He opens by stating that we already know Italian. It sounds like a brave move, but ‘around half of all English words have close equivalents in Italian.’

Noble argues that there are three rules to unlock the language, and this helps to put into perspective the ease of learning, when allowed to learn for pleasure. 

Given that this book is interactive and requires active participation I would recommend that you read it as a physical book rather than an ebook. His teaching often relies on words being in different colours and a reader being able to cover up particular phrases. This doesn’t translate well to an electronic copy. At least not on my Paperwhite. If you’re using a tablet you will be okay as long as you are happy to go back and forth.

There are tips and tricks throughout, and you are encouraged to engage with Italian wherever possible. However, Noble stresses that you should never over exert yourself, and that the language should have a natural place in your life. 

Each chapter is closed with a thorough summary and includes all that you have learned to date. This is helpful as it means that you don’t have to constantly refer to previous chapters, and there’s no difficulty in finding that one phrase that seems to have jumped off the page and launched itself out of the book. 

Noble also begins each chapter with a new set of building blocks. Through this he encourages you to play around with the language and see what you can work out for yourself. You can both see and feel your grasp of Italian coming together. 

I also rather enjoyed some of his forays into definitions. The defining of each day of the week was interesting, and it was a much more memorable way to learn them.

Following the completion of the book, you are welcome to join Noble for an audio course, which I might check out once I feel confident with the content of the book. 

The only thing I might have changed about the book, is moving the reference to Forvo, to the front. Whilst Noble provides the phonetics, you can’t beat hearing the word pronounced by native speakers.

Overall, I’m not exactly fluent, but I didn’t follow one of Paul’s rules. I have picked up some very useful tips and I’m sure with some dedicated study I’ll be much closer to my goal of reading the Italian classics in their original language.
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This is the perfect book for those who want to learn Italian. It keeps everything simple and truly focuses on you learning words as opposed to simply memorising them. I would highly recommended to anyone wanting to learn Italian.
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This was a complimentary copy from netgalley - thank you

Being half Italian I should really know more than I do about the language so this was of particular interest.  I am always looking at ways to improve and found the concepts here very interesting.  I shall be putting it into practice as I can see it will help me
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