A Guide To Learning Italian Abroad
The language that gave us words like cappuccino, opera, and al fresco also happens to be the native language of 85 million people. Intensive Italian language courses are designed to teach you as much as possible, as fast as possible - including all the slang your school teacher would never tell you! (Did you know, for example, that tiramisu means “pick me up” in Italian?) Spaghetti yourself abroad to attend Italian language schools and learn to speak like a true native — even if that means less words and more hand gestures than you expected!
There’s nothing like leaving your country and comfort zone behind to improve your level in another language. With Italian communities present throughout the Mediterranean and even seeping into landlocked Europe, Italian language programs offer no short of geographic beauty and cultural richness.
Allora….the obvious place to learn Italian abroad is Italy: the land of Neapolitan pizza, the world’s best coffee, and too many (or not enough?!) Vespas. You certainly can’t go wrong with Rome, with its architectural feats and gladiator ghosts roaming cobblestones piazzas. However, you may find that spending time in Florence would be more beneficial for the language experience. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, this Tuscan gem hosts many famous works of art and sculpture (Michelangelo’s David statue, anyone?). In addition to backyard vineyards and a hip art scene, Florence lets you truly immerse yourself in Italian. After all, it’s better to avoid places full of English speakers that make you resort back to your mother tongue!
Alternatively, you may allow the beautiful beaches and temples of Sicily to draw you in for Italian language schools. This stunning island is becoming an increasingly popular destination for language learning, so you will not be short of choice for whereabouts you would like to study. Sicily also boasts a huge amount of history and culture of its own, from the remnants of repeated invasions to Europe’s largest active volcano.
If the la dolce vita in Italy sounds too sexy for you, choose to learn Italian abroad in Switzerland. Surrounded by mountains and world-famous chocolate, the southern region of the country is actually filled with native Italian speakers. Its small towns are the perfect place to go to avoid other English speakers, and given that they’re in the middle of the Alps, they’re definitely not short of beauty!
Being in the country of the language you’re studying is always beneficial, so even if you can only spare a short time, you will still learn huge amounts. If, on the other hand, you would like to spend an extended period of time abroad, there are programs for that too. Intensive Italian language courses becoming so popular that you will have no trouble finding the perfect program for you!
Summer Italian language schools are perfect those who are at school for most of the year. Spending a few weeks abroad gives you numerous occasions to learn from teachers and to put your newly-acquired skills into practice. Summer schools often arrange cultural trips, allowing you to get to know your classmates and explore the history and lifestyle of the region you stay in. They also let you make the most of a Mediterranean summer and soak up the sun in your free time!
However, if you are not bound to the summer, many Italian language programs offer classes which you can join and leave any time that suits you. Many offer the opportunity to stay with a teacher or host family, which is perfect for immersion (whether beginner or advanced), and some also arrange group trips to local places of interest. Italian language classes are often taught in small groups, which allow you to not only get all the help and attention you need from the teacher, but also gain an automatic group of friends to practice with. The flexible start/end times make these a good fit as Italian immersion programs for adults, too.
Another option is to spend a semester abroad at a university for your Italian language courses. This gives you the chance to travel around the country, study in different places, and to experience life as a foreign student. Living in another country provides an understanding of the culture that holidays just don’t offer. Plus, there’s the perk of transferring college credit back home! Who wouldn’t pick learning about The Last Supper on location? With a gelato in hand? Next to some cute local?
If you’re aiming for serious immersion in Italian, why not live with an Italian teacher? Spending every aspect of your life surrounded by Italian is the perfect way to learn faster than Italians can speak. You’ll never be short of opportunities to improve, and you’ll make everlasting memories as you spend time with native speakers who can introduce you to their way of life; you’ll never drink a cappuccino after midday again!
Fluency – the dream! If you take intensive Italian language classes, you may find that the dream is not as far away as you’d think. Italian is one of the easiest major languages to pick up, and if you already have some knowledge of another romance language, you’ll find it even easier. However, language learning doesn’t happen through osmosis, so you need to make an effort to use it whenever possible in your daily life.
Read! Reading in Italian definitely aids in learning new words and grammatical structures. Pick up a newspaper for a challenge, or, if that seems too daunting, children’s books are a great option. Alternatively, buy your favourite novel in Italian – reading about Hogwarts or another well-known setting in italiano will help you to concentrate on the words instead of story plot.
Pay attention to the media. Italian will surround you with all sorts of drama: listen to the radio, go to the cinema, watch TV. The more you listen to Italian, the more training your ears will get and the easier it will become to understand that waitress in your favourite café!
Live with native speakers. Host families are accustomed to helping their guests learn Italian as fast as possible and being patient as you learn. If you study abroad, being brave and finding an apartment with native speakers rather than English speakers will increase your fluency tenfold. Daily conversations with your flatmates will constantly put your Italian to the test, and they can introduce you to their friends and take you out for true student experiences.
Tandem exchanges. These are a great way to improve your spoken Italian while helping someone else with their English. This is an advantage of living in a city rather than a small town; there will definitely be someone who would like to practice with you!
The major benefit of learning Italian abroad is being surrounded by native accents and slang, as well as the media. The availability of local newspapers, TV shows, and people to practice with improve language skills in a way that staying in your home country could never do. Partaking in an intensive Italian language program will have a lasting impact your capabilities.
Another major benefit of going abroad is obvious – food! Italy is widely considered to have the best cuisine in the world, while Switzerland is famous for its incredible chocolate and cheese. Leave any doubts at home, ciao everything down, and allow yourself to be better fed than you ever have in your life.
Alongside great being great foodies, Italians are also known to be very family-oriented. You might find yourself to be no different! Traveling abroad for an extended period of time could lead to culture shock or homesickness. However, nowadays both are simple to overcome. It’s easy to stay in touch with home thanks to Skype and Whatsapp. Remind yourself you won’t be in Italy forever (or will you?!) and make the most of every new opportunity.
Learning a language abroad is the only way to really under the skin of the country. You’ll have the chance to ask natives infinite questions, to be taken to culturally significant ruins, to travel between beautiful landscapes, and to practice every time you leave the house. Say arrivederci to your everyday routine and buongiorno to incredible new experiences! Find Italian language classes today.
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