There are lots of ways to learn a language, but nothing can beat actually visiting and studying in the country where the language is spoken. Daily immersion in the language and culture is the key to gaining proficiency in a language. So where better to learn the Italian language than in Italy! Italy is a beautiful and diverse country with friendly people, fantastic food and an astonishingly rich cultural heritage.
For anyone who hasn’t realised, Italy is a country rich in history, beauty, romance and style. It’s also a country where good taste in fashion and food abound. Italians take an immense, and justifiable, pride in their national assets, and often refer to their country as the ‘bel paese’ or ‘beautiful country’. Italy is among the oldest and most fascinating European countries, with art and architecture are second to none. Whether you choose to explore Italy by foot, by gondola, or by Vespa, the journey is breathtaking! To appreciate ‘la dolce vita’ fully, knowledge of the Italian language is essential, and there is no better place to learn than right in the midst of Italian life.
Italian language schools are located throughout Italy, from world-famous Venice and Milan in northern Italy to historic Taormina and Otranto in the south. Choice of location is one of the most important factors in deciding which language school to attend. Without a doubt, time spent outside the language classroom is at least as important as time spent in class. In larger cities, language programs typically emphasise amenities and activities but, depending on the size of the program, can neglect individual student attention. While there may be no shortage of cultural activities and museum visits, intimate cultural experiences are more likely to occur in smaller towns and villages. It is also much easier to fall back on speaking English in large cities, which of course defeats your original purpose entirely!
Throughout Italy, English is less spoken in smaller towns and villages than in cities. In such locations, it is almost impossible not to speak the language you’re there to study. Generally, people in the more rural areas of Italy will be quite honored that you’ve chosen to learn Italian in their home town and will be more welcoming, making it easier to establish lasting friendships and feel right at home.
The type of Italian language program you choose will of course be determined partly by your specific needs. There are many different types of program offered by language schools in Italy, including general Italian, Italian for business, Italian for academic studies, and Italian for art courses, music, design and culinary arts.
Whichever program you choose, there are several features to look for which are shared by all good programs: flexible, communicative instruction methodologies, a friendly atmosphere, personal attention, enthusiastic and qualified teachers, small groups. Depending on your requirements, the program should also provide a language qualification recognised by national and international colleges and universities.
In summary, to get the most out of an Italian language program in Italy, look for schools with small groups, qualified native-speaking teachers and programs providing plenty of individual attention. Cultural programs including excursions and activities are important, but they should not substitute for real language learning which occurs best in smaller groups and more intimate contexts. Whatever happens during your time in Italy, the most important thing is that you thoroughly enjoy the language learning experience! You will learn much better if you are happy with your program and enjoying yourself!
Miguel Scaccialupo writes on Italian tour and Spanish tour topics, and regularly reviews online Italian courses.
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