How to teach yourself Italian… Step 03: Learning Style

How to Teach Yourself…. Step 03: Learning Style: Figure out how you learn best!, Via Optimae,

You know now where you want to go (Goals) and where you’re starting from (Assessment), now you need to start getting specific on the HOW.  Just like when planning a trip, you have the choice of going by foot, train, car, plane, boat (or often a combination of several modes of transport) there are different methods and activities that you can choose from to help you learn a language.  A great way to decide which method(s) you choose is to consider your goals as well as your own studying preferences or learning style.

Citazione Quote Albert Einstein Ognuno è un genio ma si giudica un pesce dalla sua abilità di arrampicarsi sugli alberi lui passerà tutta la sua vita a credersi stupido.  Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish  by its ability to climb a tree,  it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. Via Optimae,

Learning Style

The various learning styles are the common ways that humans have of acquiring and processing new information.  Your own learning style is the methodology that you prefer and that is most effective for you.  It is possible to have a very strong dominant style, or to have a combination of strengths, and to fluctuate and change over time.  

In any case, it is important to understand what learning approaches exist so that you can better understand your own current learning style and find activities that both cater to your natural tendencies and challenge you to improve where you have more difficulty.

How to Teach Yourself a Language— What's your learning style? Visual, Aural, Verbal, Physical, Logical? Solitary or Social?, learn Italian, Via Optimae,

If you’re not sure, think back to previous learning experiences and classes growing up... 

Which classes were your favorite?  Which classes did you not enjoy so much? Specifically, think not only about the subject matter, but how information was presented to you and how you were expected to show what you had learned. 

Perhaps your favorite classes were determined not just by your preference for the subject matter— but by how closely the teacher’s teaching style corresponded with your learning style!

Questions to ask yourself

Did the teacher lecture? (Aural/Verbal)  Were you expected to just listen?(Aural) Take notes? (Visual/Verbal)

Were there a lot of visual elements? (Visual) Maybe pictures and graphs on a projector? (Visual) Notes on the chalkboard/whiteboard? (Visual/Verbal)  

Did you do a lot of reading? —either from a textbook or more narrative stories? (Visual/Verbal)

Were you expected to follow or create steps, rules, and formulas? (Logical) Were you asked to show your steps, how you got there? (Logical)

Did you watch a lot of films? Presentations? Listen to songs? (Visual/Aural)  

Was it lab? (Physical) Were you were asked to build or otherwise do something with your hands? (Physical)

What were the tests like?  Mostly written? (Verbal) Oral? (Verbal) Were you expected to give presentations or do a project, either alone or in a group (Verbal/Aural/Visual/Physical)

Did the teacher encourage working alone/silently or was there a lot of emphasis on discussion and group work with your fellow classmates? (Social/Solitary)

Again, an ideal study plan will include a lot of your dominant learning style so that you can learn new information easily and remain encouraged, but will also include some of the more personally challenging activities to push you and help you grow.

Language — just Verbal??

You may have answered all of the above questions and determined that Verbal is NOT one of your dominant learning styles— Don't be discouraged!  Learning a language will give you the opportunity to develop in this area and strengthen your cognitive abilities in general.  

Also, learning a language is a verbal endeavor but that doesn't mean you can't incorporate all of the other learning styles and use them as a bridge to greater verbal capabilities! For example…

Visual Learners

Seek out materials that combine words & expressions with graphics, images, and visual representations. This is something I try to do all the time on Via Optimae! In particular, you'll want to check out:

Aural Learners

Use the natural rhythm and cadence of sentences or practice with songs and other media to help you memorize new vocabulary and structures.

Physical Learners

Anytime you can associate a word or phrase with a physical action or representation, then you're on the right track. Look for recipes or other projects in your target language and practice reading and saying aloud the words as you perform each step.  Also, use flashcards or play games where you can physically sort, move and organize words and sentences.

Logical Learners

If you're a Logical learner— then let Grammar be your guide!  Learn the rules of word and sentence formation (as well as the exceptions) and use this knowledge to deduce new structures and create ever increasingly complex sentences.

All Learners

Use Via Optimae's Site Map to find the content you need!

My learning style

As a Verbal/Logical learner, I learn information best when I can organize information into groups and I am best able to retain information when I put it into my own words. That's why I love a good worksheet, with dedicated space to organize my thoughts and put them into writing.  

If that sounds appealing to you too, or if you're visual, you'll want to print and complete this free Language Level Self-Assessment worksheet:

Share your results with me and your fellow Via Optimae readers!:

Click to tweet:

Tweet: Ciao @AlexViaOp! My learning style is: _____  #languagelearning

Buono studio!
Alex on

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Modi di Dire — Bianco

(Idiomatic Expressions with "White")

Idiomatic expressions are a great way to color your conversations and sound more like a native speaker. (See what I did there?)

There are lots of idiomatic expressions that use colors, but this time it's all about BIANCO, or the color "white".

In some cases, Italian and English share the same expressions and imagery. In other cases, they're completely different. 

Using the images and example sentences below, can you decipher the meanings of the following expressions?

Modi di dire: BIANCO, idiomatic expressions, examples, and illustrations, learn Italian, Via Optimae,


1.  Write out the English equivalent for each of the following:

dare carta blanca (Hint: We use the French!)


mettere nero su bianco


2.  In English, we use the term "out of the blue" to refer to something unexpected, that seems to appear out of nowhere.  Which of the above expressions has the most similar meaning in Italian?


3. "Essere la mosca bianca" literally means "to be the white fly" or to be something unique or rare— different from the rest.  Can you think of an expression in English that uses an animal and a color to express a similar idea?


4. Read the following description of "settimana bianca" in Italian (from Wikipedia) and write your own explanation of the concept in English:

"La settimana bianca è il termine comune per una permanenza in montagna ed è svolta da coloro che viaggiano e visitano luoghi montani nel periodo freddo a scopo di svago maggiormente rappresentato da sport invernali."


5. In which expression is "blank" the best translation for BIANCO?


6. In which expression is "plain" the best translation for BIANCO?


7. "passare la notte in bianco" means to have a _______  night:

a. crazy
b. sleepless 

8. Write your own unique sentences using each expression.  For an extra challenge, try writing each expression in different tenses and persons.

For example:

Passo la notte in bianco (1st person, Present tense)
Hai passato la notte in bianco (2nd person, Passato Prossimo)

Devo chiudere adesso, altrimenti passerò tutta la notte in bianco!
I must close now, otherwise, I'll not sleep a wink all night! ;)

Buono studio!
Alex on

Vuoi far parte di Via Optimae?

and get social!
Alex at Via Optimae on TwitterPinterestFacebook

See also:

Frasi celebri su Via Optimae

Frasi celebri su Via Optimae
Acque del sud (To Have and Have Not) original: "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow."