Strolling along on the uneven but quaint cobble stoned alley ways, inhaling the warm and delicious smells of freshly made pizza formaggio, and taking in the magically lit fountains that tower in the center of every piazza is enough to make any language student unwilling to leave The Eternal City. Rome is the ultimate city, where learning a language is as easy as ordering another glass of vino rosso. With St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon located within a mere 15 minute walk from one another, you’ll never have to travel far to experience authentic Italian culture.
Language Programs in Rome
Most language schools in Rome focus on teaching Italian to second language learners, but there are also a handful of schools for ESL learners, too. In Rome, almost every street corner will boast an Italian language school (if not a sign on the street post for a nearby one), because many people have the desire to learn Italian in Rome. However, there are hundreds of different language programs in Rome that will fit your specific language goals, budget, and learning style.
If you prefer small classes, a language program based at a language school will be your best option. Those who like more lecture-style courses will be happy with university language courses in Rome. And students who need serious one-on-one attention with a local will be satisfied with private tutors.
Language courses in Rome may start anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Late classes may be unheard of where you come from; however, Italians are used to ending their days late. The structure of language courses in Rome will be familiar, but the class sizes will likely be smaller.
Finally, keep in mind that your school will be closed/classes will be canceled during national holidays, so check the calendar, first if you’re booking a short term Italian language program.
Life in Rome
Imagine living in a city where eating a meal means sharing a plate of authentic Italian spaghetti Lady in the Tramp style with your friend or lover, with a scoop of handmade gelato for dessert. Imagine living in a city where a casual night out meant hanging out by the steps of Piazza Trilussa, drinking a bottle of Peroni, and being surrounded by the laughter of other students and locals. Imagine living in a city where school is located 10 minutes away from the Spanish Steps, and even walking to class feels like a daydream.
Most language schools in Rome are located close to the center of the city, so students usually live in nearby neighborhoods, such as in Trastevere. Trastevere is a popular neighborhood that has many grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, and mini markets in close proximity to apartments and houses.
A typical day in the life of a Rome student usually consists of “Rome-ing” around the narrow alley ways and taste testing each of the many gelato shops that are present everywhere you look. Since Italians are accustomed to staying out late, the nightlife in Rome is spectacular. There are many unique bars and pubs that are located in the center of Rome and in Campo di’ Fiori, a popular spot for international students and locals alike.
Public transportation, such as the buses and trams, is the quickest and cheapest way to venture around the city. A single ticket is 1.50 Euro and grants you an unlimited amount of transfers and trips for four hours. A few businesses in the city also rent out vespas if you crave a more adventurous way to travel, or want to live out the Lizzie McGuire dream!
Accommodation & Visas
Many, but not all, language programs in Rome will offer to organize housing for students. If this is the case, you’ll be able to stay with a host family, reside in an apartment with other international students, or go your own way to coordinate an apartment dwelling on your own. It costs more money up front to let a language school in Rome organize your living situation, but it does allow you to focus less on difficult conversations with landlords and more on learning new names for types of salami.
Universities in Rome offer dormitories located nearby the school for students to live in. Students who go abroad through a language program provider, however, will usually stay in apartments or homestays also within close proximity to the university, but are filled with locals, rather than other college students. This gives language students a chance to mingle and get to know their Italian neighbors, practice their Italian, and even learn how to “do as the Romans do.”
Since you will likely be taking language courses in Rome at smaller language schools, you probably won’t need (or be eligible for) a student visa. Instead, you should plan on entering Italy with a tourist visa. This process will take a few weeks to complete; however, many language schools in Rome will provide students with all of the documents required in order to receive a visa. For more detailed information, visit GoAbroad’s Italian Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Since Rome is a popular city for tourists, many businesses and transportation systems accommodate those who aren’t from Italy by using multi-linguistic menus and signs. Many service workers will also speak a bit of English.
Worried about the cost of living? Bars, museums, and galleries will offer student discounts and deals (especially helpful for a language student on a budget!).
“Waiting in line” doesn’t exist in Rome. Whoever will get the attention of the cashier first will essentially be the one rung up, even if you were waiting there first (be sure not to use your Joey Tribbiani swear words if/when this happens). Staying assertive, yet polite is a great way to avoid waiting in “line” for a long time.
Due to the massive crowds of tourists that are present in Rome all year round, pick-pocketing is a common crime, especially near monuments and on crowded buses and trams. Always be aware of your surroundings and make sure your bags are zipped shut and secure.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s no wonder that Rome makes the top of most people’s travel bucket lists. Learning a language in Rome will not only allow you to learn miles beyond the surface level of Italian culture, but also immerse in an experience in which you will always remember (and could talk about for hours!). Before you know it, you’ll be tossing a wish-laden coin into the Trevi Fountain, praying to one day return back to The City of the Seven Hills.