I’ve been studying Italian on my own for about 5 years, we’ve been to Italy 10 times, and I still don’t feel my conversational Italian is all that great. Maybe I really suck at languages, but dammit if I’m going to stop trying.
I started with the Michel Thomas method. His method will have you speaking simple sentences almost immediately, and you’ll be progressively making more complex sentences in no time. This method gave me the ability to feel comfortable speaking in Italian, but I didn’t feel like it helped my understanding of the spoken language. Use it in conjunction with other methods.
I also use duolingo. Which again, provides a nice progression of learning. However, if you’re going to use it to try understanding Italians in Italy, it won’t work. For me, it reinforces what I’ve learned with Michel Thomas, and it’s also nice for learning the written language.
Italians speak very quickly. You’ll be lucky to pick up a couple words a sentence, and by the time you’ve maybe figured out what they said they’ll be 3 sentences ahead.
I use simple Italian readers that I bought on amazon. I also have a lesson book that has simple stories with questions that I read and reread. I’ve also bought juvenile fiction books in italy(Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes)that because I’ve already read the books in English, help me understand words that I might not have known.
I also watch Italian movies and tv. If you have Netflix, watch Suburra, it amazing.
Eight months is a nice amount of time to get comfortable with speaking the language to whatever level you get to. It will help when asking simple questions, it will make you feel like you’ve made an effort to respect their language and country. It’s worth it.
Keep in mind however, everyone speaks English. If you’re going to be in Rome, or Venice or any popular tourists spots, don’t expect to have to use what you’ve learned. I mean, talk in Italian every chance you get, but they’ll respond in English. Unless they assume you’re Italian and answer back so fast your head spins and you’re reduced to asking them to say that again in English…haha.
I found our last trip to be the most successful one for me with regards to understanding the language. Mostly I just went with it. I spoke only in Italian, I didn’t try to understand everything that they said, just the gist of it, and it helped tremendously. I’d ask for directions, for example, and they’d say something like, left, under, tunnel, and I knew what they were telling me. We stayed in Airbnb’s and all the hosts spoke only Italian, which was amazing, I love that, and I understood all of their instructions.
One night in Salerno we found this restaurant down this alley and the waiter didn’t speak a single word of English, nor did they have a menu, so we simply let him pick our meal with a few instructions, from the sea, from the land, antipasti, primi, secondi, dolce. It was so much fun, and the food was amazing!
Good luck! I’d love to know how you make out with it.