I was given a copy of Lightning Fast Italian For Kids and Families.
After reading it and trying it with my family for a little over a week, I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. The theory behind it is solid. Using the language as part of your daily life is much more effective than taking a class or trying to learn it through more traditional lessons.
My first impression of the book was mixed. I read the introduction which explains that, other than the review chapter, the rest can be done in any order you want. The chapters are easy to fit into your daily schedule with topics like "Getting Dressed" "What's for breakfast?" "My toys" and "A walk outside." I was excited to try it out immediately, but then my children reminded me they still expected dinner.
After making dinner, we were sitting around the table and I opened the book to the "Time for Dinner!" chapter. The preparation for this conversation tells us we should have prepared a dinner with several choices including pizza and pasta al pomodoro. I looked around our table and realized this wasn't going to work.
The next day I started over and decided to try some of the other conversations. Asking my kids in Italian if they had brushed their teeth, were wearing pants, and if they played outside at school, initially caused confusion and concerned looks from my children. By the next day, they were catching on and answering my questions correctly. By the end of the week, I had stopped using any sign language with the Italian and they still understood. We increased our vocabulary and even my husband got in on it - though he preferred words that are the same in English and Italian.
The pros: It really is fast and easy to use in daily life. It is a very natural way to learn a language. I like how well it it arranged and that I don't feel pressure to prep for each lesson (we still haven't made pasta al pomodoro for dinner). Every word is listed phonetically every time, so I'm not expected to remember it from previous conversations.
The cons: I want more pictures in the book. It doesn't change the content, but would make it more fun. There are a few errors ("yeelllow"), but they don't take away from your understanding. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't say where the emphasis goes on each word. I don't speak Italian, though we have a few CDs that are in Italian, so for most of it I had no context for how it should sound.
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