Italian is known for being emphatic and it sounds just perfect for a fiery Italian when he's waving his hands in the air and going red in the face. Mastering this aspect of the language is absolutely essential if you are ever going to become anywhere near fluent and will make you much more accepted if you chose to visit Italy.
Correct pronunciation can make a real difference and will make your Italian more easily understood by other people. It may take a while to master but it is necessary and there are a few main rules to follow.
All Italian vowels are as short and sharp as they ever are in English and are never lengthened. The letter C is also slightly different to English in that it takes on a CH sound when succeeded by the letter E or I. The letter G also changes in this situation when followed by E or I and sounds like a hard English J such as in the word Job. Another stand out factor is the letter R which is strongly rolled off the tip of the tongue and the upper teeth. You must also watch out for double consonants as you must split these into separate syllables so that one ends with the consonant and the next begins with the same consonant. You must not pronounce just one of the consonants but instead pronounce them separately; this can take a bit of practice but you should get the hang of it if you take it slowly at first.
Accent marks and syllable stress is also a grey area of Italian which must be made a little more black and white. You always stress any Italian syllable containing an accent regardless of where in the word it falls; this will always be on a vowel sound. The stress in an Italian word is always on the penultimate (second to last) syllable unless it only has one syllable. This is what gives Italian its very unique sound.
Hand gestures are also a vital part of Italian communication and you should ensure to recognize their importance if you are going to become fluent. Just speaking Italian is not enough and you will look very odd if you try to speak with your hands in your pockets. Moving your hand up and down in front of you is often used to say yes or no and more recognizable signals such as the hands on the side of head for “I'm tired” are used very often in Italian. There are many websites which have a comprehensive list but many classes and guides will give you this information.
The Italian language is a very complex one and there is no way you can master it unless you get to grips with the basics. Once you begin to get the hang of it you will soon begin speaking it in a more instinctive way and your hand gestures will become automatic. Your intonation will follow suit and you will have the air of a native Italian.