Italian Language Classes

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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With approximately 60 million native speakers and around additional 14 million speaking it as a second language, Italian is one of Europe s most popular tongues. Outside of Italy, it is also widely spoken in San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican City; and, to a lesser degree, in Croatia and Slovenia.

Though the Italian language has a long history with Latin, regional dialects such as Venetian and Florentine, and Germanic languages all playing a part in its formation it was only adopted as the official language of the state after the reunification of Italy in the nineteenth century.

What does it involve

Because it is a Romance language and so shares characteristics with other Romance languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, learning to speak Italian is not too difficult an affair: many of its words will appear recognisable to even novices and its grammar rules are simple enough to follow. However, getting used to its pronunciation and pacing will require plenty of practice.

Luckily there are numerous Beginners Courses in Italian that will allow students to get all the practice they need. Joining a part-time Italian Language course will give learners the opportunity to pick up essential Italian phrases, improve their pronunciation, and get used to reading and listening to the language. Classes tend to encourage learning by creating a highly interactive and informal atmosphere in which the emphasis is primarily on communication. Students will spend time getting to grips with the language s grammatical structures and building their vocabularies.

Having completed an Italian Course for Beginners, many students choose to progress their learning by enrolling on Italian Courses at Intermediate and Advanced levels. Programmes at these levels will place greater focus on improving pronunciation, comprehension and conversational skills. Learners will also advance their knowledge of the language s structure and will be able to express themselves with greater clarity and fluidity.

Those who are serious about learning to speak Italian also have the option of studying the language at diploma level. Some part-time diploma programmes are available to those with no previous knowledge of the Italian language. While these tend to focus on developing a student s technical competence in communicating everyday situations in Italian, they will also cover certain aspects of Italian culture by looking at the country s history and its contribution to art, literature and cinema. In addition, students will attend lectures on a variety of other topics from learning about different Italian regions to exploring Italian grape varieties by enjoying wine-tasting sessions. Upon completion of the diploma, which is of two years duration, students will have acquired a high level of oral and written communication skills in the Italian language along with a cultural and historical appreciation that is suitable for personal, travel or professional purposes.

Why do it

Italy is one of the cradles of Western culture: the Roman Empire, Roman Catholic Church and the Renaissance have each had a profound effect on the world. Visitors to the country cannot escape this historical influence: it is there for all to see in the spectacular cathedrals and Roman ruins that are scattered throughout the country (indeed, Italy is home to more UNESCO heritage sites than anywhere else in the world). In art, the country has produced the likes of Michelangelo and da Vinci; in literature it has given us Dante and Boccaccio; in music, Vivaldi and Puccini; and in thought, Galileo and St Thomas Aquinas.

And this prestigious list is not just consigned to the past either: Italy still produces world-leading innovators in the areas of fashion (Prada, Gucci, Armani and Versace), filmmaking (Fellini and Antonioni) and motors (Ferrari and Lamborghini).

By learning to speak Italian visitors and enthusiasts can deepen their appreciation of such cultural contributions. They can enhance their Italian holidays by being able to converse with locals about regional foods or lesser-known places of beauty, or they can simply chat about with them about football over a glass of fine wine.

What comes next

What you do with your language skills depends on you level of expertise. A rudimentary grasp of the language will prove highly useful to tourists; while those with a greater level of training may go on to secure positions within translation or in one of the many bilingual roles that are available within multinational business organisations.

At a glance


A part-time Italian for Beginners course will normally last for between 8 and 12 weeks, with costs varying between 90 and 180.
A part-time Diploma in Italian will typically run for 2 years, and will cost 970 per year of study.


Frank Bolger

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