Have you always dreamt of learning Italian? Has Italy’s rich history of art and architecture piqued your interest? Why not take a leap of faith and go to Italy to learn its beautiful romance language through cultural immersion? Not only will you discover a new way of life, it will also be a lot easier for you to grasp some basic Italian and practice your Italian pronunciation on your travels.
Total immersion in the Italian way of life will make it far easier for you to improve your language skills and achieve fluency more quickly than by simply learning in the UK.
If you’re learning Italian for beginners, you’ll find that spending some time in Italy will help you pick up a large amount of Italian vocabulary relatively quickly, just by listening to native speakers around you. You’ll also pick up useful everyday Italian words and phrases, so you can ditch the phrasebook and learn to develop your conversational Italian. These days, a lot of young people choose to go abroad for both long and short trips. Some simply go there for a holiday, others for a university language exchange or a work placement. No matter your reason for visiting Italy, you will learn valuable skills which will serve you throughout the rest of your life. So, maybe it’s your turn to try it.
Rome: An Ideal City for Learning Italian
If you decide to pack your bags and head to Rome, you’ll have made the right choice. Studying Italian in Rome is one of the best ways to fall in love with the language. This ancient city is about 10 times larger than Paris, and offers a welcoming and cosmopolitan atmosphere, so you can feel at home. Like many large cities, Rome has a number of organisations dedicated to teaching foreign languages. You’ll be able to find one to one tutoring as well as polyglot cafés, so you’ll have no choice but to make significant progress during your time in Rome.
And you won’t have to wait long to find friends who can take you under their wing. Italians are known for their warm welcome, so don’t be afraid to explore every district, even the not-so-touristy ones. The Italian capital is also the best place to develop a ‘standard’ Italian accent, since it is not so far south that you risk picking up parts of each regional dialect. Although Rome’s locals have a slight accent in their pronunciation of the letter ‘s’, learning to speak Italian this way will help you avoid any comprehension problems in Italian conversation. And don’t forget to take in the beauty of Rome. Known for its historical relics, Rome is home to many UNESCO world heritage sites, and visiting them could help you improve your Italian reading and listening skills. As the centre of Italy, Rome is a lot more than a capital city; it’s a place with a fascinating history. Founded 2000 years ago, Rome possesses treasures which will make you never want to leave! First of all, it’s important to know that Rome is in the European Union, meaning that anyone else coming from an EU country will easily be able to travel, live and work there. For the time being, this included UK citizens – so, take advantage of freedom of movement while you still can! So, this is an important point if you’ve got your mind set on Italy. Secondly, once you’ve arrived in Rome, you have two options: working or studying. Here’s what you need to know about working in Italy:
- There is no minimum wage set by the government
- The working week can be anything between 40 hours and 48 hours at the maximum
- You’ll be entitled to four weeks of holiday and 11 public holidays per year
- To protect yourself in the case of ill health or unemployment, register with Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL)
- At 39.1% for 16 to 25-year-olds, Italy’s unemployment rate is higher than in other European countries
- The sectors that employ the most people are catering, business, administration and computing
If you want to study Italian in Rome, you have a choice of language centres:
- LSI Rome is a language school which offers Italian lessons for all levels and ages
- Torre di Babele has been around for 33 years and offers Italian language courses for all
- Scuola Romit is for young people who want to learn Italian whilst discovering the city of Rome
When it comes to finding accommodation during your trip to Italy, the further in advance you find somewhere to stay, the better. You can always rent with some of Rome’s residents, especially those who are also a part of the student population. This is an ideal way to throw yourself into the deep end and be completely immersed in Italian culture.
Why Learn Business Italian?
What is Italian useful for? What can fluency in speaking Italian do for your CV as languages such as French, German and Spanish are taking centre stage in the professional world? There are 61 million native Italian speakers around the world, so even if it’s not as widely spoken as its Latinate cousins, Italian will always hold importance on the continent. Contrary to what you may believe, Italy is not the only country where Italian is spoken. Italian is one of the four official languages of Switzerland, alongside French, German and the minority language, Romansch. Even though German is the most widely spoken language in Switzerland, Italian is spoken fluently by 8% of the population. Italian is also spoken in Croatia, in the region of Istria. This peninsula is close to Italy, and its culture is closely linked to that of Italy as it is a former part of the Roman Empire. So, if you’ve ever wondered about visiting Croatia, going to Istria is a perfect opportunity to test out your Italian skills! In Argentina, where nearly half of the population is of Italian origin, dual nationality is quite common and Italian culture is kept alive by the Italian Argentinians.
All of these international links represent opportunities for you to practice your Italian which will make you very attractive to future employers. Just two per cent of Brits have sufficient language skills to be able to take part in an Italian conversation. As the fourth most popular destination for British tourists, it comes as a surprise that so many of just have to rely on our Italian phrasebook when visiting the country. The 2011 census revealed that only 0.2% of UK residents can speak Italian fluently. In fourteenth place in the rankings of languages spoken in the UK, behind Polish, Arabic, Urdu and Spanish, those who speak Italian seem rare. One reason for this is the UK’s immigrant population. The other factor which affects these rankings is, of course, the languages UK citizens choose to learn as a second language. Modern European languages such as French, Portuguese and Spanish come above Italian, implying that fewer people learn Italian as a second language. This is largely due to the lack of opportunity to learn Italian in UK schools, however, there is an advantage to the rarity of Italian speakers in the UK. Although, as the old saying goes, ‘everybody speaks English’, speaking foreign languages such as Italian is a real asset in the world of work. And even if everyone does speak English, having the option of speaking to someone and negotiating with them in their native language can have a big impact. It may surprise you to know that Italian is the third most common native language in Europe. In 2012, 63 million people were using Italian to communicate – that’s 8.5% of the European population. So, if you end up working for an international company, or one that deals heavily with the rest of Europe, having Italian as a second language will put your CV a cut above the rest. This is especially true for certain sectors such as:
These are all areas in which Italy is a world leader in their research and expertise. And let’s not forget the large multinational Italian companies:
- Dolce & Gabbana
- Alfa Romeo
So, what do you think? If you’re looking to work for a large corporation, speaking Italian will get you far.
Italy’s Top Student Cities
Wherever you are in your education, it does no harm to see if spending some time in some of Italy’s beautiful cities would suit you!
Regardless of whether you’re thinking about applying to university, choosing a destination for your year abroad or looking for a work placement over the Summer holiday, it’s highly likely that Italy will have something to offer you. Every student is different and has their own ideas about what makes a good student city. For example, some people may look for cities that:
- Have the best universities
- Are culturally rich
- Have a low cost of living
- Have the best nightlife
Milan and its Bocconi university come to mind when discussing the subject of Italy’s best student cities because of its academic prowess.
Bocconi is known for its international business courses and its accessibility to work experience and placements.
Milan is the ideal destination for fans of both football and fashion, who experience cultural immersion while doing what they love. From a cultural perspective, Florence is undoubtedly an Italian gem which is not to be missed. Santa Maria del Fiore and its incredible dome attracts thousands of visitors to the Tuscan capital every year. With its many museums and historical buildings to explore, Florence is a dream come true for anyone with a particular interest in the history of Italy. In order to preserve their unique culture, the city of Florence has resisted attempts by McDonald's to secure a place in the city centre. If accommodation costs are your main concern, forget Milan. Instead, go to Bologna or Palermo. Further away from Milan’s bustling tourist areas, these two towns offer more affordable living costs for students. When it comes to student club nights and general nightlife, Bologna is the clear winner. The city is one of the top Erasmus student destinations. In other words, you’ll never be stuck for a somewhere to party. Bologna is also known for its relaxed, no-stress atmosphere, which can be handy if you prefer calm environments. So, in addition to Rome, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a destination in which to study in Italy. Here are three particularly student-friendly cities:
Milan is a pleasant city with is highly popular with tourists and offers several universities. Among these, you’ll find Politecnico and Bocconi. The Politecnico di Milano is one of Italy’s largest science and technology institutions. Famous for its status as one of the country’s best universities, it offers many engineer training programmes from undergraduate to master’s level. Politechnico is an ideal location to get certified in your specialism with a recognised degree certificate whilst learning a new language. Or business students, Bocconi University offers the necessary education for you to become an expert in your field. Bocconi offers high-quality teaching from expert professors, who will guide you on the path to success.
The city of Florence has featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 1982 and is, itself, a symbol of the Renaissance. In addition to having produced Matteo Renzi (former Italian Prime Minister) and Mario Draghi (President of the European Central Bank), the University of Florence is famous for its excellent teaching. If you’re looking for a destination for your year abroad at university, the University of Florence (or UniFI – Universita degli Studi di Firenze – as it is also known) will delight you. Studying in the birthplace of the Renaissance will give you the opportunity to learn Italian at the country’s historical centre.
We can’t forget Bologna and its own university, Universita di Bologna. Founded in 1088, this university is one of the oldest in the country (and the world).
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With its faculty for Latin history, which opened in 2015, studying here will give you the opportunity to learn more about the history of the Italian language and how Latin formed a basis for Italian grammar and vocabulary. Universita di Bologna offers modules in literature, Italian art history and conversational Italian classes – these are just a few examples of the classes which will help you in your learning about the Italian language and culture.
· Other Italian Cities to Explore
There are plenty of other towns and cities which are fabulous student destinations such as Naples, Cagliari and Bari. If you go to Naples, Europe’s oldest historical centre, you’ll witness a city fully of relics and evidence of a rich past. In Cagliari, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads of different artistic influences and tastes. Bari will give you the opportunity to study at either its polytechnic school, Università degli Studi di Bari, or Libera Università Mediterrenea. Once you arrive in Italy, you can make the most of your free time by travelling around the country. This is a great way to visit places such as Siena, Tuscany and Pisa with its famous tower.
Why You Should Learn to Speak Italian in Italy
If you decide to sign up to Italian language lessons, you certainly won’t be wasting your time. Regardless of your motives, whether you want to explore a new culture, get your dream job, or woo a lady, the Italian language won’t disappoint. But why should you go all the way to Italy to learn this language? Learning a language is generally far easier when you’re in an environment where it is spoken. If you choose to study Italian in Italy, you’ll be fully immersed in your new language every day, meaning that you’ll get to listen to it, speak it, and learn new words all the time. This means that once you return to the UK, your Italian listening comprehension, Italian pronunciation and your ability to use appropriate vocabulary in conversation will have dramatically improved.
Cultural immersion is another way of saying that you’ll be dropped in the deep end. This is a great way to make your language learning count, as you’re far more likely to remember a word when you need to use it.
Making Italian friends and learning from them alongside your Italian learning is also incredibly beneficial. Passing from one language to another can slow the progress of the learner, so it’s important that you’re not tempted to seek out other English speakers and speak as much Italian as possible. When you’re spending time in Italy, listen to Italian radio, watch Italian TV and read Italian literature. Surround yourself with the Italian language to the point where you start to think in Italian – that’s when you know your second language is becoming second nature. Your ear will get used to hearing the accent that is used in your area, and you’ll soon be able to tell if someone is not local to your city. This will also make the pronunciation far easier to reproduce and you’ll sound less like a foreigner in Italy.
Even if you struggle to stay motivated from time to time, you’ll always be looking for ways to progress and better get by in your new environment. The good news is that you don’t need to repeat grammar exercises to be able to learn – just go outside! If the idea of diving into a new culture without knowing any basic Italian scares you, you can always consider one to one tutoring. Whether it takes place at home or you learn Italian online, your Italian tutor will be able to teach you all you need to know before your trip to Italy.
· Why Learning Italian is Easy for Native English Speakers
It may surprise you to know that English shares some of its roots with Italian. This is because both languages are, in part, derived from Latin. So, if you want to learn Italian, learn French, learn Portuguese or learn Spanish, your knowledge of English will only help you. This is because all of these languages are romance languages, meaning that they come from the Latin that was spoken in Roman times. Since large parts of the English vocabulary come directly from French (a romance language), English shares a lot of similarities with this category of languages. You can easily start by finding Italian lessons in your local area – what are you waiting for?
· Learning Italian for Professional Purposes
As Italy is home to a host of International enterprises, businesses both in the UK and Italy favour speakers of Italian over other candidates. Mentioning your Italian language abilities on your CV is a small detail that carries a lot of weight. Your language skills can open doors to new opportunities and career paths. If you work in the tourism industry, having a second language can be handy when dealing with clients and put you a cut above the rest in your company.
· Learning Italian for Fun
Italy is a paradise for holidaymakers from all corners of the world looking for sun, sea and sand. If you often think about visiting Italy, you may want to start learning a few Italian words and phrases that can help you get by while you’re there. Speaking the local language is also a good way to get to know the area by talking to those who live and work there. We at Superprof hope that this article has helped you make a decision on visiting Italy and learning Italian. Don’t hesitate to search for your very own Italian tutor on Superprof.co.uk. Italian classes London will provide the most results. Happy learning!
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