The Holidays are just around the corner and already, people are formulating their resolutions for the new year.
Might yours be to learn a second language? If so, how about learning Italian?
People are also making their winter travel plans.
Here's an idle thought: wonder how many Britons will travel to Italy? Will you?
You may enjoy Tuscan wine and cuisine, and thus want to learn expressions related to cooking. Or you might cast an eye on the future by helping your child to learn how to speak Italian in the new year.
In all cases, this article will give you all of the information you need to know about choosing a good Italian teacher.
It will also help you decide how much to budget for Italian language lessons, how you can learn for free, and show you how far an education in this romance language could take you.
Are you ready? Avanti!
How to Budget for Italian Lessons
According to a report compiled by the British Council, Italian lags behind French, German and Spanish as a language students elect to learn in secondary school.
It's not that Italian courses are not offered in UK schools. They are, alongside a lot of other languages. Languages that are more often selected for study than Italian.
Many lovers of la lingua d'italia opt for private lessons, rather than classroom instruction.
You might be interested in knowing: at what cost?
The average rate for one hour of private instruction in any foreign language, no matter if you want to learn French, learn Spanish, or learn German, is influenced by several factors.
- Where you live: language learning in big cities costs less than if you live in a remote area.
- The type of teacher: engaging a certified professor of foreign languages might cost more than engaging a native Italian speaker, a student who is still in college or a bilingual Italian English speaker.
- Your level of Italian learning: absolute beginner, beginner, intermediate, or advanced
- Course schedule: weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly – if you are only taking a conversational Italian course, that might be enough lessons for you.
- Depth of knowledge sought: are you a university student hoping to attend the Università per Stranieri di Perugia? Or do you only want to be able to babble grazie mille and scusi while on holiday in Venice or Sicily?
- Your preferred method of language instruction: in a classroom setting with other students? Private lessons, one to one, in a language school, or in your home? How about taking language courses online?
With all of that being said, here are baseline prices you can expect to encounter as you plan your language learning experience:
- If you learn to speak Italian through a language school, you should anticipate upwards of £40 per hour of instruction
- you can reduce that cost by paying for ten or twenty lessons in advance.
- Should you prefer to schedule an Italian tutor to your home (or his), you may get away with around £20 per hour of instruction
- if you language teacher is certified and heavily degreed, you may pay more – those diplomas are not free, after all!
- Shopping around for a tutor and online Italian courses may be your best deal yet: Some Superprof tutors offer lessons for as low as £10 per hour.
Most Superprof tutors of Italian offer their initial lesson for free! So why not look up Italian courses London and find the perfect tutor for you?
What type of teacher can you expect for £10 per hour?
Finding the Best Teacher for You
Obviously, you would want the very best Italian teacher: one that suits your needs as well as your budget.
The question remains: what is a good teacher?
If you are an absolute beginner, your teacher should be capable of instructing you on everything, starting with the Italian alphabet, which is a bit different from ours.
S/he would have to instruct you on Italian grammar and vocabulary, and drill you on Italian verb conjugation.
Word order – the adjectives and adverbs before nouns and verbs, is reversed in Italian: le cose belle - the things beautiful, instead of the beautiful things.
You would spend hours working on your Italian pronunciation. For example, to say buon giorno correctly, you would stress it like so: buON giORno.
Listening comprehension is equally important. For example: the popular Italian phrase ciao, bella! is two words instead of the oft-perceived one word.
Unless you will be satisfied with learning only conversational Italian – chatting with shopkeepers and ordering food from restaurants while you holiday in Italy, you should learn how to read and understand Italian writing.
Of course, it would be helpful to learn a bit of translation to and from Italian, too.
Your chosen teacher would have to be well-versed in Italian language and culture, and demonstrate a degree of fluency in speaking.
No, we're not being facetious. Check out the students in America who are learning to speak French from someone who does not know the language!
Other questions you should raise with any potential teacher you consider are:
- Experience with the language; teaching experience and certifications
- please note that tutors in the UK are not required by law to prove qualifications or certification in any discipline
- what type of lessons s/he proposes: small group, in-home, via webcam
- what type of language: Business Italian, Italian conversation, everyday Italian – to be used in shops, or maybe a regional dialect?
- hourly rates and possible discounts – for groups, for booking several lessons in advance, for online lessons
- teaching methodology and educational philosophy: interactive learning, using flashcards and role play, or more passive – rote repetition and memorisation?
Before any tutoring can begin, your teacher should ask to assess your level of Italian speaking.
It is this proposed initial evaluation of how fluently you can speak Italian that will give you the best indication that you've found a good teacher.
You can type "Italian classes near me" into your browser or look for teachers on Superprof by city.
Once you have found the ideal teacher to learn Italian language skills from, you can start dreaming about how far your Italian classes can take you!
Preparing for Italian Exams
A study conducted by the British Council reveals that the language of Dante Alighieri is the seventh most popular language at A Levels.
Even if you do not intend to make a career out of parlarle l'italiano – should you pursue architecture, art, history or music, the language spoken in the land of The Boot would be an asset to you.
Far more than just for sojourning in Naples, Rome, Venice or Milan, sitting Italian A Levels will broaden your future career prospects.
Upon satisfactory completion of your secondary education certification, you may further your studies in Italian language courses by preparing for A Levels.
Obviously, this more strenuous exam requires more intensive study of this most romantic of romance languages.
However, the exam itself may not be as taxing as you thought.
Italian A Levels is a two-part ordeal, challenging your receptive and communicative skills in turn.
For the AS Level, you will be permitted to choose a topic for discussion, rather than have one assigned to you.
From there, your examiner will formulate four questions relating to that topic, that you must answer in as fluent an Italian as you can manage.
For example: you have chosen Italian food as your subject for discussion.
Here are possible questions your interlocutor could ask:
- What is the name of Sardinia's unique dish?
- Why is it unique to that island?
- Describe the origins and variations of gnocchi.
- How is pasta al forno different from other pasta dishes?
- Name and describe the different cuisines found along the Appian Way
The second portion of the AS exam covers reading and writing.
You will have two and a half hours to compose your thoughts on your chosen subject and put them on paper.
Italian spelling, vocabulary and word order, verb conjugation, and use of adjectives and adverbs are all measured against your ability to write and understand la lingua d'italia.
This first exam contrasts from the A2, in that you have a choice of topics.
For the A2 examination, you will be required to provide a researched essay on a given topic relating to some aspect of Italy: language and culture, history, traditions, economy, or education in Italy.
For this exam, it would be very helpful if you have a chance at immersion: spending a gap year in Italy, or maybe interning with a business, in your favorite region of the country.
That would help with the oral portion of the A2, which demands a greater proficiency and familiarity with the language.
Beyond the A Levels, you could sit the International Baccalaureate in Italian.
Considering the impact of Italian trade on the global economy – and on our British economy, it may well be worth investing in this additional layer of testimony to your Italian studies.
You may think that learning a language to that extent would cost a bundle. Read on to find free resources to help build up your Italian phrasebook.
Free Resources to Study Italian
You may have felt your wallet cringe at the mention of a trip to Italy, tutoring fees and the many – expensive! - ways to learn a new language.
Fear not! There are many ways you can learn Italian words and phrases for free.
When you think free, you may as well say Internet: an excellent choice to learn Italian for free.
The World Wide Web puts all manner of language learning tools at your fingertips.
That is no exaggeration. Let us explore some of the ways you can diversify your arsenal of learning materials.
Are you tired of textbooks? Loecsen is a language learning website featuring interactive tools for a multitude of languages.
You can learn German, learn Korean, learn French... Learn Italian!
With a bit of dedication and discipline, you could go from sono inglese, non capisco I am English, I don't understand to il tuo paece mi piace molto I like your country in no time at all, thanks to this site!
Another page that provides basic Italian vocabulary and grammar instructions is Ilanguages.org.
This website offers flashcards, in addition to all of the features you will find on the Loecsen site.
Both of these sites round out their learning chapters with a quiz.
Of course, you are more than welcome to subscribe to for-fee sites, but the point of this topic is free resources to learn Italian!
If you've simply had enough of lessons for the day and crave uplifting entertainment, you could always tune in to Italian music channels, watch Italian films or television broadcasts.
YouTube has no lack of Italian content.
All you need to do is access that page and search for Italian channels.
From there, it is simply a matter of selecting what you want to watch: music videos, language learning tips, conversation between native Italian speakers or how to make a gorgeous lasagna.
A seldom thought-of avenue of Italian reading materials is newspapers.
W3 Newspapers has thoughtfully gathered all of the prominent – and the not-so-prominent daily and weekly magazines for your perusal.
You can also find regional publications, such as ItaliaOggi, Giornale di Sicilia, and L'arena on that page.
If you are a sports fan, you could read Corriere dello Sport.
Much like our own BBC site, these Italian news sources are available for free.
Many of these online news outlets include links to videos, interviews and exposés, giving your further opportunity to hone your listening skills.
Anyone can learn Italian.
Whether you wish for your child to pursue the language of Da Vinci or if you are a golden-ager wishing to holiday in Naples, it is never too late – or too early to learn a new language.
The sheer variety of tools, teachers and techniques to learn Italian is staggering. By making use of any or all of them, you are not only enriching yourself, but contributing to British Italian relations.
And that can only be advantageous for us all.