Ispirazione: Learning Italian through Instagram

Today on Italophilia, I’m very proud to welcome my online friend Elfin Waters! A passionate Italian who hails from Gaeta, Elfin is the owner of “All About Italian” through which she creates Language Retreats for learners of Italian. She is also the co-owner of the podcast “Con Parole Nostre”.

Being a teacher by professioner, Elfin’s focus on learning a language is amazing and she regularly posts this on her Instagram Stories no matter how busy. Her mantra is simple- there’s always time to fit learning during the day and that too in a joyful way!

Today she will be sharing her thoughts and knowledge on how to learn Italian through Instagram!!


Welcome, Elfin!!

Hi Everyone.. I just wanted to say that if you’re able to fit in Instagram in your daily life, you can fit language learning around that. 

Instagram is an amazing tool for language learners. For starters there are tons of teachers on IG, like myself for instance. Teachers post a picture or a short video with a relevant piece of language for the day and learners get to pick all levels of language.

How do you find other teachers or language learners??

Through hashtags (#)- these are an important source of categorizing content on social media and Instagram where they pretty much run the show.

How you can find hashtags??

If you’re learning Italian, you can simply start with #learnitalian and search it as a hashtag as shown below. But it doesn’t have to stop there. You can use them to look up words you are learning and help memorize vocabulary. Let’s say you’re not quite sure what the word papavero means. So you can write to the IG search engine and get many pics of papaveri. (Explained in picture) That will give you a visual hook that will make the word more memorable. Nice, right??

hashtags So, how are you actually learning a language by skimming quickly at a post from an Italian account? Very little probably. That’s why practice comes in.

You really should use your down time, say the line at the supermarket, or time while cooking, to skim and see what is relevant to you. Listen to songs and podcasts and watch videos. Whenever you see something you think could be helpful to you, bookmark it!!

In IG under every post, you can bookmark to review later. IG even has added folders to help keep everything organized. So if we are online and we see something relevant like a grammar rule or a nice idiom, we can just save and bookmark the picture. Exploring the Instagram App is essential to get a feel of it and when you are free, whip out your notebook or even phone and start going over your saved posts.

If you’re feeling brave, leave a comment on the picture or video that you liked and practice the language presented. If you don’t feel up to that yet, just jot your comment down.

It is normal to feel shy about leaving comments so make sure to keep all your notes in one place.

When they add up, even after a week, they will give you a sense of accomplishment.

Is there anything else I can do??

A few ideas from Elfin who is learning Spanish: Since I am learning Spanish, I realized that teacher accounts were great but weren’t enough to keep me going. So, I went in the search explore part of Instagram and started looking hashtags with the word Spain in it.

That is how I followed Spanish accounts that talk about going to Spain, which is what I hope to do and these will keep me inspired. Plus, I also get exposed to Spanish in other contexts. Tiny things always add up to something bigger. So, even if I don’t have time to crack those verb tenses, or that grammar book, I do have time for IG and that exposes me to tiny moments of native content. 

Make sure you check out the comments on videos/pictures because they provide a lot of interesting language tips.

Similarly, if you’re learning Italian or you probably are in love with the country, what better way to keep you motivated in your studies than to follow accounts that showcase Italy?? Start with classic accounts such as IgersRome and IgersItalia and then you’ll quickly find more account suggestions on the IG App. 

Join a community and share your passion: Join a language challenge.

These are organized by teachers on IG where you are supposed to commit to posting one video/picture a day for a month on words/topics suggested by the teacher/organizer. At the end of it, you get feedback from fellow learners which gives you the feeling that it’s alright to make mistakes and that we are all in this together.  

View this post on Instagram

What do you do when you have a big problem? Or when you're blocked by an economical crisis? ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Some people feel sorry for themselves. Others ask for help. And others still, pile in on the Christmas decorations.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ That's what happened in Gaeta, some years ago. It's a small town and it was being ruined by the economic crisis. It was time to think outside the box. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ What people decided to do, was start decorating the town for Christmas and get extremely creative about it. It's been years now but starting in November until February, the town is decked up in Christmas lights and festivity- inspired activities. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Some decorations are practically art installations. You know how Italians are obsessed with beauty. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Each street has a theme.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ See? Sometimes all it takes is that one thing to set a machine in motion.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ That's the beauty of sparking an idea. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ People felt like they were being called to take action and came up with nice ideas to showcase the event like having people dressed like ancient Romans selling warm wine or sharing their craftmanship or abilities. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Or simply helping out. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ On Sundays, people gather round the towns' fountain to watch the light show displays and fireworks. After, they stroll among the markets and have something to eat while roaming the town searching for their favorite corners. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ The events, concerts and general bustle generate interest that is helping the town slowly find itself again. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ It started all with some extra lights 7 years ago. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ So now, as I see pictures being posted on Instagram, I'm reminded of how powerful it is to take one bold step, that will spark ideas and inspire others. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ It all starts from one small thing done today and who knows what it will become?⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ You'll never know if you're not taking that one initial, scary step. ⁣⁣⁣ Pic @gaeta_medievale_foto ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

A post shared by Elfin Waters (@allaboutitalian) on

For more detailed info on how to join a challenge check this blog post Remember, you can’t do this alone. And why should you??

Learning a language is about connecting. Share on Instagram Stories!!

Lastly, I can’t recommend following IG stories enough. It’s a great source of motivation and learning the local language. IG stories are similar to Snapchat where you post a picture/video and talk about your day or just share snippets of your day. These help to know local life to a language learner. Do remember that these stories are not like IG posts and disappear after 24 hours. This also means you can keep adding more daily.

IG Stories are a great way to practice your listening skills and learn new vocabulary. 

An Italian account on IG stories I really recommend is @lucreziaoddone from Learn Italian with Lucrezia. Follow her! I hope you enjoyed reading through all my tips of language learning through Instagram. My only recommendation would be not to get lost in the process as Instagram is a very addictive app. Also do remember, it shouldn’t be your only source of study!

In the comments please let me and Elfin know whether you use Instagram to learn Italian or any other language??

View this post on Instagram

Mi sento sempre a disagio quando posto foto di me stessa su IG. Non so perché, forse è generazionale o forse è solo perché sono timida. Ma come faccio a chiedere ai miei studenti di essere coraggiosi, di postare video e foto in challenges come il #languagediarychallenge se non sono pronta a metterci la faccia anch'io? Così mi sto sforzando a postare più foto di me. Questo post è dedicato a tutte le insegnanti che mi parlano spesso di questo argomento. Io vorrei vedere più foto di voi e sapere più su di voi, perché siete persone straordinarie, con tanti talenti, sapete tante lingue e fate cose incredibli. E come me, anche i vostri alunni vorrebbero sapere di più. E voi? Siete a disagio con postare selfie su IG ? O siete sciolti? I always feel uncomfortable when I post pictures of myself on IG. I don't know why, maybe it's how I was brought up or simply that I'm shy. But how can I ask my students to be brave, to post videos and pictures to challenges like the #languagediarychallenge, if I'm not wiling to overcome my own fears? So, I'm trying to post more pictures of myself. This post is dedicated to all the teachers with whom I've chatted on the topic. I'd love to see more pictures of you and hear more about YOU because you're amazing people, so talented, multilingual and you do amazing things. And like me, also your students would be happy to see more of you. What about you? Are you ok with posting pictures of yourself or not?

A post shared by Elfin Waters (@allaboutitalian) on

Grazie mille carissima per la tua ispirazione!

For more tips on learning Italian click here!


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30 thoughts on “Ispirazione: Learning Italian through Instagram

    1. That’s great! Always nice to know more people studying the language. I’m sharing my experience of learning Italian on Instagram today. Hop on!!

      1. No, I just learned to clear my language exam…we just used to have fun in the class ☺️
        It is a great language, though. I wish I had learned the basics at least!

  1. Hi! I’m a fellow Italophile, and I’d never thought of using Instagram in my studies – what a fantastic idea!! I’ll definitely be trying this out, and I look forward to seeing more of your posts! Grazie mille!

  2. My previous post had the address wrong. It’s You can read passages from my book there: “Florence, Dante and Me.” It’s about my self-imposed year of total immersion in Italian in 1960. Vittorio Gassman reading Dante was one of my great sources of inspiration. Google him: Vittorio Gassman reads Dante. You are in for a treat if you have never heard him. Many years later Robert Benigni took up the gantlet. He’s good but lacks the gravitas of Gassman. One page you will like is my visit to Empoli to witness a re-enactment of the Ghibellines’ meeting, presided over by Farinata, to decide whether or not to level Florence to the ground. “O Tosco, che per la città del fuoco/Vivo t’en vai, così parlando onesto.” Here is some of the most powerful poetry in the Italian language.

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