One of the first resources that many people buy when they first want to start learning a new language is a phrasebook.


The first and most obvious use for a phrasebook is tourism. It is nice to be able to have a small book with just enough of a country’s language for a varied array of situations.

How can phrasebooks help when you want to reach a higher than tourist level in a language?


Like many language resources, phrasebooks will often have a section that reviews the language’s pronunciation.

While I believe in always trying to stick to a language’s native script as much as possible, a nice part of many phrasebooks is an included pronunciation guide and romanization.

Writing and reading

Like any other language resource, any phrasebook worth your money should include your target language’s writing system. Having romanization is fine, as long as the native script is also included.

Different Situations

Phrasebooks can be helpful because they tend to include vocabulary for many different specific situations. This attention to specific vocabulary makes phrasebooks a good add-on to a traditional dictionary.

Grammar and Examples

Phrasebooks will often have a small grammar section that can help with constructing sentences. Much better than any grammar sections are example sentences or at least example phrases. Reading grammar rules is one thing, but the way to make those rules materialize is with examples.

Phrasebooks are often a good resource for some example sentences.

Which Phrasebook to get?

This is not an advertisement. I only feature stuff that I actually use and enjoy.

A really well-known company that makes phrasebooks is Lonely Planet. Their Italian phrasebook is one that I have used and found to be helpful.

You need more than a phrasebook to reach fluency, but they can be a fantastic tool in language learning if used correctly with other resources.

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Phrasebooks as a Language Learning Tool
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