Have you ever been in a situation where you want to tell something interesting that happened to you and you know exactly what to say in your head (it’s easy in our own language, isn’it?) but, when you try to say it in Italian, it comes out sounding very confusing, or your tongue seems to instantaneously tie itself into a big knot? As you probably know already, in any language it is very important to be able to tell a story or to respond to it. Anecdotes are short stories about something that happened to you or to someone you know and they are one of the most powerful tools to improve your communication skills. This article is an action packed collection of useful Italian expression to kick-start your fluency improvement routine. Start telling your story now!
How to tell your story
Ok, you have an incredible story to tell your Italian friend and you really want to be understood and sound natural. So where do you start? Well First of all or, like an Italian would say it, innanzitutto, your story should be quite short and with a simple grammar so that it is easy to follow.
When telling a story, it is very important to try using sequencing and linking words which show the chronological sequence of events. Some of these words are: anzitutto, poi, dopo, alla fine and so on.
Anzitutto / per prima cosa (ho fatto la valigia)
First of all, I (packed my suitcase)
Dopo (ho controllato di avere tutti i documenti)
Then (I checked I had all my documents)
Prima di (fare la valigia, ho cambiato dei soldi )
Before that (I changed some money).
Dopo (aver cambiato dei soldi, sono andata a bere un caffè)
After changing the money, I went to the bar for a coffee
Poi (ho chiamato un taxi per l'aereoporto)
Then… I (called a taxi for the airport)
Più tardi (mentre ero bloccata nel traffico mi sono resa conto che…)
Later (on)… (when I was stuck in traffic, I realised that…)
Ma prima (avevo controllato la mia prenotazione)...
But before all that… (I had double checked my reservation)
Alla fine (sono arrivata all'aereoporto ma in quello sbagliato e per un volo che non sarebbe partito fino al giorno dopo!)
Finally… (I arrived at wrong airport for a flight that didn't leave until the next day)
Così (ho scelto il primo volo disponibile, che pensa un po', era per le Maldive!... e sono partita!)
So (I chose the first flight available, that, fancy that!, was to the Maldives!...and I left!)
How to introduce an anecdote
The opening of a anecdote is arguably the most important part. Imagine that you want to talk to a friend about a particular place, person, thing or something that has happened to you in the past. How do you make a connection?
Making a connection and grabbing the listener's attention is the key task of any opening
Here's my list of openings to connect to your listener:
Ti ho già raccontato che cosa mi è successo ieri?
Have I already told you what happened to me yesterday?
Non crederai mai che giornata pazzesca ho avuto!
You'll never believe the crazy day I had
Ti ho mai detto che una volta….?
Did I ever tell you about the time I………?
Non dimenticherò mai quella volta che……
I'll never forget that time when...
Avresti dovuto esserci!
You should have been there!
Sai, mi è successo qualcosa di incredibile…
You know, something incredible happened to me
Lo sai cosa mi è capitato?
Do you know what happened to me?
Setting the context
Imagine that you are watching the first scene of a movie. Where does it take place? Who are the principal characters?
When you tell a personal anecdote strive to create a “movie-like” experience, planting your audience deeply into the moment.
This basically means that you should provide a brief background to lay the foundation of your story so that your listeners can imagine themselves in the situation and really synchronize with you.
Be' è stato un po' di tempo fa
Well, it was a while ago
Conosci….(una persona o un luogo)
Do you know...(person or place)?
Hai presente la casa rossa vicino alla mia?
You know the red house near mine?
Ti ricordi di quella volta che sono andata in vacanza in Sardegna?
Do you remember that time that I went on holiday in Sardinia?
Sarà stato circa due anni fa…
It must have been about 2 years ago…
Be' lo sai che avevo prenotato un volo per l’Alaska, no?
Well, you know I bought a flight to Alaska, right?
Telling stories is a very useful skill to develop your fluency and practicing this skill should be an important part of learning Italian. To boost your confidence and get used to speaking fluently in Italian, practice talking about your personal anecdotes in front of a mirror. Say every sentence out loud to yourself and focus on speaking fluently instead of correctly. And If you want to know more or practice with this, book a lesson with me!