Saturday, 26 October 2013

Kim's Review : DK Eyewitness Italian Phrase Book

This was the first time I actually bought a Language phrase book, before visiting a country, but then this was also the first time we were visiting a country where we planned to walk extensively and wander on our own, but where English isn't widely spoken. (USA, Canada, UK, Lebanon, Kenya etc weren't a problem at all) and when we visited Morocco and Turkey, we had a guide/translator with us to help navigate the non touristy parts of the country.

But, the real reason I was convinced to buy this book was because it came with an audio CD and I believe that, THAT is the most important part of a phrase book. Its one thing to read a word or a phrase, its quite another to hear it spoken with a native accent.

I skimmed through this book. Underlined phrases I thought I would most need : drinking water, where is the restroom, I'm allergic to prawns, which way to . . . , etc.

And then I just played the CD while I was busy with some other work. I listened to it twice, but I honestly believe it really helped. It gave me a feel for the accent, so I did not have as much trouble with mispronunciation as I did when we first arrived in Egypt.

People in Italy are really helpful and when they see that you are trying to speak in Italian, they do their best to help you. In fact, I wandered across a Russian church in Milan, when I was searching for the Church of bones. I asked the lady inside if she knew where that church was, when she didn't she came out and asked a couple of senior gentlemen who were eating their lunch at a table in the garden if they knew where it was. They tried to give me directions, but it was a bit complicated. So they asked me to hold on for a minute, finished their lunch extra quick and accompanied me through a couple of twists and turns until the church came into my view and only then did they wish me Ciao!

I do pick up the basics of a language easily, so my husband was pretty amazed that by day 4, on the train from Rome to Florence, I was having a conversation with 2 Italian couples opposite us on the train who only spoke a bit of English and I was using my extremely basic Italian, but we understood each other almost 90-95%.

That's also because the Italians use a lot of hand gestures when speaking and since body language is just one of the many topics that I've conducted umpteen number of training sessions on, I found it quite easy to catch the gist of a conversation, since I knew a few basic words.

So, if you are planning to do any exploring on your own in Italy, that is outside of the tourist circuit of hotels, airports, train stations and large museums, I would highly recommend picking up a few phrases and this book with its CD is an ideal way to do so.

Its also less than a 100 grams (3 ounces) in weight, so its easy to slip into a bag when walking around and its also small and square, making it easy to slip into a pocket too.

Rating. 4.5 / 5

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