Practise Italian with ChatGPT, your new Italian language tutor in 2023

Practise Italian with ChatGPT in 2023! Discover how ChatGPT can help you with Italian conversation, Italian vocabulary and grammar.

Oggi tutti parlano dell'intelligenza artificiale!

Everyone nowadays is talking about artificial intelligence.

Can it really change our lives and the reality we live in? Can it change the way we learn?

As a passionate student of Italian, you are probably wondering if it can be leveraged in your quest to reach Italian fluency.

And if it can, how to use it correctly to make the most of it?

And most importantly, how much can you really rely on it?

Let’s quickly answer a simple question:

Che cos’è ChatGPT ? What is it?

ChatGPT is a computer program that uses a technology called a "language model" that can understand and generate text like a human.

It has been trained on immense quantities of text, so it has a vast knowledge. It can answer questions, provide information, and have conversations with users in a way that sounds human.

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Can you really practise Italian with ChatGPT?

Now, if you open ChatGPT, and ask it in which ways it can help you learn Italian, it will provide you with a strikingly impressive list of things it will do for you:

  • Italian grammar explanations
  • Writing practice
  • Italian conversation practice  
  • Vocabulary building
  • Cultural Insights

Go ahead and try!

The big question is: is it telling the truth? Will it really be reliable in all these fields?

Here at 7-week Italian, together with my team, we have been testing all of these claims for some time now, and here are the results.

Clarify or explain Italian Grammar topics

ChatGPT is correct most of the time when it comes to Italian grammar, but… A big BUT!

”Most of the time” in grammar can not be good enough!

It sometimes makes pretty basic and a bit ridiculous mistakes or explains grammatical concepts in a way that can only make sense if you already know the answer.

So, when it comes to grammar, it is our suggestion not to rely on ChatGpt. At least not yet, as it is still in test mode.

One day it will have learned from all the feedback we keep providing on its incorrect grammar explanations, and we will see it improve immensely. Until then, let’s not bother it with any more grammar requests. Ok?

Practise writing in Italian

Another useful thing the model insistently claims to be able to provide is to allow you to practise writing in Italian.

You can supposedly write a sentence or a paragraph and ask for corrections.

We have made several tests with real “compiti” (weekly assignments) our students from Italian Campus submitted.

The model was able to catch up to 60%-70% of all grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure mistakes.

Everything else just slipped through the digital cracks!

So, no, you should not use it to correct your compiti assignments or texts. Not if you want the corrections to be 100% accurate.

It rarely suggests incorrect forms instead of correct ones, but it might miss quite some mistakes in your writing.

Practise Italian conversation and build your Italian vocabulary

This works much better and is probably the best way to leverage ChatGpt.

Simple written conversation is something it is perfectly capable of.

But to be able to interact properly you need to know which prompts work and which ones create a linguistic short circuit.

Strangely enough, if you ask the model itself which are the best prompts to have a conversation, it will suggest you ask it about its day, its favourite food, colour or home town in Italian.

Now, if you use these prompts, it suddenly gets all philosophical and explains that as a language model it is unable to have emotions or physical states.

“Come modello di linguaggio di intelligenza artificiale, non ho emozioni o stati fisici, quindi non posso "stare" in un certo modo. “

Annoying, right?

To have a somehow satisfying and vocabulary-building conversation, you need a series of prompts and, in addition, specific requests for clarification, explanation and simplification.

Want to master the best digital tools to fast-track your Italian fluency? 

Get your free ticket on the ITALIAN DIGITAL TOOLBOX live Masterclass! 


Simple and effective Italian conversation prompts for ChatGPT

~ Parliamo in Italiano? (Can we speak in Italian?)

~ Mi piace molto Venezia. Cosa posso vedere in una giornata? (I really like Venice. What can I do there in a day?)

~ Qual è il dessert più famoso della Sicilia? (What is the most famous Sicilian dessert?)

~ Come arrivare da Milano a Roma? (How can I get from Milano to Rome?)

~ Cosa devo sapere prima di visitare il Ponte Vecchio a Firenze? (What should I know before visiting Ponte vecchio in Florence?)

~ Chi è il pittore/scrittore/viaggiatore italiano più famoso? (Who is the most famous Italian painter/writer/traveller?)

~ Sono al ristorante. Come chiedo il menu? (I am in a restaurant. How should I ask for the menu?)

~ Come posso chiedere consigli riguardo al menù? (How can ask for suggestions on the menu?)

Try to be as specific as possible if you have a defined topic in mind, so it can keep the answers short.

Sometimes (very often!) ChatGPT gets carried away, and the answer is too long.

If you prefer a shorter version, all you need to do is ask for a shorter version, a sum-up.

~ Puoi riassumere in poche parole? (Can you provide a sum-up?)

If the language is too complex, and it sometimes happens, even if you warn it upfront, you need a beginner's conversation, just ask to simplify.

 ~ Non capisco. Puoi semplificare?  (I don't understand. Can you simplify?)

~ Puoi spiegarlo in parole più semplici, adatte a un principiante? (Can you explain this in simpler words, suitable for a beginner?)

If you are still having difficulties with parts of the text, you can ask to explain specific words or expressions.

~ Puoi spiegare “____________” in parole semplici?” (Can you explain "_______" in simple words?)

And if you are still unsure, your very last resort, just like in a normal conversation with an Italian, is switching to English.

~ Puoi spiegarlo in inglese? (Can you explain it in English?)

You can, of course, make as many variations as you want to these, invent your own prompts and talk about whatever you feel like, from your culinary preferences to travel plans!

It’s a good idea to ask it at the beginning of the conversation to suggest corrections to your prompts if you are making mistakes.

“I am going to practise my Italian with you. Could you please suggest any corrections to my prompts before providing an answer?”

It will agree and then repeat this sentence back to you. But once you switch to Italian, it will meticulously correct your mistakes.

As I already mentioned, the corrections might not always cover all the mistakes.  

Short and clear sentences help it provide correct feedback and help you with word order and grammar.

Want to write and pronounce Italian correctly? Download our FREE audio cheatsheet with Italian letter combinations.


Using punctuation 

ChatGPT is a stickler for "la punteggiatura" - punctuation (we have that in common!).

Please make sure you use proper punctuation, especially periods, question marks, commas and quotation marks! It will make your requests much clearer and allow to provide better answers!

Growing Italian language skills with ChatGPT

Now, you might say… This is all very nice, but aren’t you always insisting on growing language skills simultaneously? This is just reading and writing! What about active skills, like speaking and listening?!

You should of course, as with every other Italian text, read or pronounce everything you read or write out loud!

How do you check and monitor pronunciation?

There is a wonderful tool, called “Natural reader”. Yes, it’s an AI tool as well. It can read out loud text in various languages.

The free account is more than enough to generate Italian speech from text. Just make sure you choose one of the Italian voices there!

Copy and paste any Italian sentence or expression and generate speech.

You can listen to what the ChatGPT wrote in your conversation, to what you wrote and repeat the sentences.

ChatGPT in Italy

As you might know, Italy blocked ChatGPT on its territory for a few weeks. But all privacy issues seem to have been resolved now, and it's back! 

 Should this happen again, just use a VPN. Windscribe is my favourite as it is free for a lot of countries and is pretty generous with traffic.

Final words of wisdom about Italian practice with ChatGPT

1. Never provide any personal information during conversations with ChatGpt.

If you need to practise something that involves personal details, just replace yours.

2. Never rely on the answers 100%. 

It is a machine and, as such, can and often is... wrong, because it learns from humans!

And we know how unreliable humans can be! Right?

3. ChatGPT does not replace your dictionary! Keep using your dictionary for your new words and your vocabulary work.

ChatGPT, like other artificial intelligence applications, will be and already is demonised by many people. Especially those who did not take the time to understand properly what it is and how it works.

Remember, it’s just a tool. A very smart one, but just an instrument in your hands. 

You decide how to use it, how much to use it, how much personal information to provide (as little as possible!) and when to take it with a grain of salt (Prendere con le pinze).

ChatGPT is an exciting development in the field of technology and will undoubtedly revolutionise aspects of language learning. It will improve over time as it learns from user feedback and continues to develop. But it is just a tool, and as such, it will always have limitations and inaccuracies.

It can never replace a structured language program or a teacher who guides and supports you. 

That said, if used correctly, ChatGPT can help you practise Italian conversation and improve your fluency in a fun and innovative way.

Give it a go! 

Want to master the best digital tools to fast-track your Italian fluency? 

Get your free ticket on the ITALIAN DIGITAL TOOLBOX live Masterclass! 


Categories: : Digital tools

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