Anyways, if I were to do it all over from scratch, this would probably be my plan of action:
1. Sign-up for a language course that is INTENSIVE. So a couple hours a day for at least two months OR private lessons for an hour a day, 4-5 days/week. (I realize this sounds difficult but I really, truly believe that an hour a day of grammar study at the beginning creates the foundation for success in any language). (GRAMMAR)
2. Get a language buddy. You need a mothertongue speaker to converse with so whether you find someone online or find a Meetup group, you'll want to practice conversational skills at least once a week. (LISTENING/SPEAKING)
3. Listen to Italian radio as background noise. This is to help with everyday speech and pronunciation. Radio tends to use alot of common idioms and the speed at which they speak is 'normal' compared to CDs and tapes which are typically slowed down. Sometimes the problem with this is that you then get used to a slow rate of speech and then you encounter real Italians and your brain wants to explode.
(IDIOMS AND PRONUNCIATION)
4. Translate songs and magazines from Italian to English. This is primarily to help hone vocabulary and is a fun way to do it. (VOCABULARY)
5. The last step is no slacking! I kind of think learning a language is like going on a diet. The phases are rather similar too, you're always more enthusiastic at the beginning but that slowly wanes over time. You have to continually be an active learner in a language. I started studying Italian almost 8 years ago and I never ever let a word pass me by untranslated. If I see a word, phrase, or expression I don't know, I consistently look it up in that moment.
I've talked about this topic numerous times in the past, so certainly check out this link about The Language for more posts.