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Certifications & Characteristics Every Italian Tutor Must Have

By Sophia, published on 22/11/2017 Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > What Does it Take to Become an Italian Tutor?

The very mention of educator implies the dignity, gravitas and wisdom only a learned person with years of teaching experience can enshroud themselves with.

That may have been true for the traditional teacher of ages past.

These days, modern educational philosophy demands that teachers be vibrant, engaging and accessible, not stoic, remote and venerable.

While we still venerate the principle of education, teaching style is as much a criterion of a quality educator as diplomas are.

Does a teacher in fact need any certification or authentication to teach Italian as a second language?

Look below to find out if you actually could conduct Italian lessons, as your heart so desires!

The Unbelievable Potential of In-Home Tutors

You may want to become an in-home tutor part time, full time or to supplement your current income.

And, why not? Private tutoring is a booming business in the UK!

More specifically: you want to become a tutor of Italian.

The UK does not demand certification or any type of proof that you are fluent in Italian before you begin to teach the language of Dante.

Becoming an Italian tutor in Great Britain does not require any specific diplomas or credentials.

As a rule of thumb, you should be one year more advanced than your proposed client.

What that means is: if you can speak intermediate level Italian, you could comfortably teach absolute beginners and those studying basic Italian.

With all of that being said, let us now aver: your clients may want proof of your language capability – beyond being able to say buongiorno with an Italian accent.

 Let us now examine the various profiles of contemporary Italian teachers.

Don't let appearances fool you: hold out for the teacher you want Finding the right Italian teacher can be a bit like unmasking carnival figures to find a friendly face! Source: Pixabay Credit: 4038246

Students of Foreign Languages

With no malice intended, we list linguists-in-training as our first rung on the language teacher hierarchy.

It is not uncommon, throughout the UK, that university students supplement their income by tutoring learners at lower ranks than they are.

Conversely, it happens quite frequently that junior students seek out mentors in the upper grades to help them understand Italian grammar.

These scenarios suppose that both learner and tutor are attending the same school.

However, it is entirely possible for you to engage your neighbour’s college-aged Italian student to instruct your GCSE-level child in our favourite romance language.

Or that you employ your cousin to teach your child how to speak Italian.

Should you be such a student, maybe one preparing to matriculate at Università per Stranieri di Perugia, you could advertise your availability to teach the language at your local community center or library, ahead of your trip to Italy.

If engaged to teach, you may be called to instruct on:

  • The basics: Italian alphabet, phonetics, pronunciation and rules for syllable stress
  • Italian grammar: gender assignment for nouns, word order, syntax, pluralisation, use of adverbs, possessive pronouns
  • Verb conjugation
  • Vocabulary: words and phrases, slang and expressions in Italian

As you delve further into teaching Italian, you would ensure your tutees gain comprehension of spoken Italian, develop reading skills and writing capabilities.

The quality tutor unites language and culture in his Italian courses.

Lessons could revolve around Italian food, Italian music, Italian art, and fashion from Milan or fresh off the runways in Florence. Italian lessons can be great fun!

If you instruct teenagers, you may find them keen to discuss aspects of the fashion industry. Wouldn’t that make for lively Italian conversation?

In short, as long as you find students one level below yours to tutor, you could earn handsomely as a student teacher of Italian!

Fashion is always a hot topic with teenage students Discussing fashion with your students may break down the walls of shyness Source: Pixabay Credit: Superkiki

The English-Italian Bilingual

The next rung up from learners of Italian tutoring younger students would be those who are bilingual, but not students.

This category of Italian teacher does not have to be youthful. In fact, a large number of  tutors who meet this profile are retired!

Their aim is to introduce as many Italian language lovers as possible to this most romantic of romance languages.

Their studio is their home, your home; in a public place or online – or a combination of all four.

We are of course describing self-taught masters of la lingua italiana.

Through multiple sojourns in Italy, with learning materials from the library and online; with learning apps such as Duolingo: this type of teacher has incorporated learning Italian into his daily life.

Fluency is the inevitable result of years of study, even if s/he could not immerse himself into language learning completely.

The advantages of such a teacher are:

  • Someone so passionate about learning a language is bound to infect you with enthusiasm.
  • Such a dedicated language learner understands how hard and frustrating it can be to learn a language
  • Someone who has never sat through Italian language courses is likely to have a unique teaching methodology
  • A self-taught professor could actually teach you how to learn!

One note of caution before engaging such a teacher: Which regional dialect does s/he speak?

Italy boasts more than thirty regional variations of speech.

The Sardinian dialect would be incomprehensible to someone living in Sicily or Rome, for example.

Similarly, someone from Naples would be completely lost, trying to comprehend people in Venice.

For your reference: the Tuscan dialect is considered standard Italian.

If such a distinction is important to you – and it should be, be sure to ask which dialect your tutor speaks.

Learn to Speak Italian with a Native Italian Speaker

This teacher profile corresponds with certain aspects of the teacher profiles you’ve just read about.

A native Italian speaker is self-taught, most likely specialises in a particular regional vernacular, and perhaps has no diploma that specifically certifies his language skills.

Why would s/he, if s/he grew up speaking only Italian?

This is the profile most coveted by those thinking of engaging a private tutor for Italian lessons.

However, such a teacher must also be able to communicate effectively in English, especially if the person engaged in Italian learning understands little to no Italian.

Imagine how dismaying it would be to have a teacher who cannot explain or translate anything s/he is saying!

One other question to think about when considering hiring a native speaker: would this teacher understand the difficulties in learning Italian?

Think about someone from Italy who wants to learn English. Could you explain why the English language does not have a formal pronoun – vostro / vostra, or gender assignments for nouns and articles?

This teacher profile would be able to help anyone learning Italian as a second language, provided s/he has a bit of training as a teacher, and good oral English skills.

And always provided that the regional dialect s/he speaks is the one you want to learn.

Would you like to learn Italian from this man? Native Italian teachers exude confidence and charm! Source: Pixabay Credit: A Andrea

The Certified Instructor of Italian

This profile describes teachers who are currently offering online teaching jobs and tutoring in a formal setting: primary or secondary school, college or university; or in a language school.

They have spent several years studying Italian, possibly even immersing themselves into the learning experience by sojourning for a time in Italy, perhaps matriculating at the University of Siena to obtain their degree.

Quite possibly, they are members of the Italian Cultural Institute and contribute heavily to promoting Italian culture throughout Britain.

Superprof Italian tutors tend to fit this profile best!

Such a teacher may currently give Italian language lessons, in schools or universities, as well as offer supplemental language courses in the evening and on weekends.

Teaching in UK schools does require a degree of certification, but besides that, such an Italian teacher will have most likely sat for their DITALS certification from the University of Siena.

DITALS: Didattica dell’italiano come lingua straniera, or: teaching of Italian as a foreign language.

It is a pair of exams meant for non native speakers who intend to teach Italian as a foreign language.

A Level 1 DITALS certification entitles the bearer to teach new language to anyone from basic and intermediate level, all the way to seniors who wish to journey to Genoa or visit the Vatican.

Whether your focus is Italian pronunciation or listening comprehension, this type of teacher could provide a wonderful Italian course, tailored to your needs.

Teaching Fellowship of Italian Language

Clearly, this profile is the most elevated position any academic can have.

Such a profile implies decades-long experience in speaking Italian, perhaps even a teaching stint at schools in Italy.

Obviously, this teacher of Italian phrases could command the highest fees for private tutoring.

Equally clear: such worthies most likely teach at the highest levels of university.

In Conclusion:

Anyone can learn a new language: buy a phrasebook, mimic the Italian accent heard in movies and television shows, and eat pizza.

Calling oneself a linguist because of these acts does not a true speaker of Italian make.

Much better would be to find an Italian teacher that suits your needs and budget, to help you reach your Italian speaking goals. 

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