15 Minute Italian
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  • 15 Minute Italian
  • Francesca Logi
  • Published by: Dorling Kindersley Limited
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2005

This book consists of short, 15 minute lessons which are meant to be worked on everyday during a 12 week period. 15 minute Italian offers a quick and entertaining way to learn the basics of the language. Each lessons helps the student learn new words and phrases as well as practice their listening skills. This book can be used as complementary material for an Italian group class.

Review posted: 28/10/2013
Have you used this book?

Although I am American, I’m half Italian by blood. After gathering birth, marriage, and death certificates from the last three generations, I can apply to become an Italian citizen. I plan on doing this. The entire process of collecting and filing papers, followed by traveling to Chicago for my interview at the Italian consulate, will take no less than a year. The way I see it, that is more than enough time to at least learn a bit of conversational Italian. After all, it would be kind of strange to be Italian by blood and by citizenship and only know how to say “Si”, “Va bene” and “Capiche”. So I’ve set out to learn a little Italian before I become a citizen.

Seeing as I don’t have a lot of time to devote to studying the language right now, the title 15 Minute Italian really caught my eye. Is it really possible that in only 15 minutes a day I can learn a language? Probably not, but it’s definitely good marketing.

What Does The Book Offer?

Glossy from cover to cover, the book has an engaging layout chock full of pictures. This makes the book aesthetically pleasing and simple to read, but the overall content is lacking. 15 Minute Italian is more of a structured travel phrase book than a language learning book.

Though the book is structured into twelve weeks of study, the content lacks any real explanation beyond phrase translation. Each of the twelve units covers a basic introductory topic like “introductions”, “eating and drinking”, “shopping”, “accommodation” and other things that could be useful for a traveler.

However, if you really want to learn how to speak Italian, this book doesn't give you a great starting point from which you can build a solid linguistic foundation. Even after reading this book cover to cover, I was left hopelessly trying to spot grammatical patterns on my own in order to construct new sentences not offered in the book.

Though the book gives brief vocabulary lists, sample dialogues, and useful phrases, it doesn't do a thorough job explaining grammar or putting the samples to work. There is simply not enough material, especially if you are learning alone. The book includes no exercises, tests, or games to practice what you learn. As a student, your only option to study the material is to read it again and again.

"if you really want to learn how to speak Italian, this book doesn't give you a great starting point from which you can build a solid linguistic foundation."

The Downside

15 Minute Italian is simply a book for phrase memorization, not language acquisition. If you want to learn standard phrases like “where is the bathroom?” and “do you have a non-smoking room?” then this is a good book for you. In fact, you don’t even need to memorize; you can simply pull the book out and read from it when in Italy. But, if you want to really learn how to speak Italian and speak it beyond phrasebook Italian, then this probably isn’t the best place to start.

If you are a language teacher, then using 15 Minute Italian probably is not your best choice. However, it is still possible to use the 15 Minute Italian book as a starting point for your lesson. It can help you thematically structure a 12 week course, giving you a very skeletal outline of what to teach. The major drawback, however, is that you will have to create a lot of supplementary material for each lesson. The book lacks even the simplest of things like vocabulary practice. While each unit does have a vocabulary list, the student doesn’t have the opportunity to put it to use. As a teacher, you will have to supply example sentences demonstrating the correct way to use each word and provide your student with an activity to put the words to use. This is the kind of study guide you use with your students because it’s the only book at the shop, not because it’s the best book at the shop.



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