The opportunity to learn Italian is often overlooked in favour of studying the top three foreign languages emphasised in our school system: French, German and Spanish.
That is not to say that Italian is not offered by our national curriculum, just that students are less likely to select Italian as their second language.
You can also learn Italian online.
A study conducted by the British Council reveals that the language of Dante Alighieri is the seventh most popular language at A Level, with the ranks of Italian learners remaining stable from GCSE upwards.
The number of test takers choosing Italian does not compare to those who sit for the French exam.
In the UK, only around five thousand students prove their Italian language skills each year, compared to the one hundred and fifty thousand who sit for French exams.
Nevertheless, Italian remains a language elective for students at secondary school, all the way through A Levels and into university.
Could it be that you are a native Italian speaker and wish to make use of your language skills to improve your marks on your exams?
Maybe you are a second-generation English-Italian, and have thus been bilingual all of your life.
Now, closing in on your exams, you wish to formalise your learning – drill in Italian grammar and learn all of the rules.
Find out why las cosas bellas in Italian translates to the beautiful things – in other words: why word order is reversed.
Superprof is your guide to language learning and refinement, within and without the national education system.
Starting with this roadmap to success with your Italian lessons!
Italian Studies and GCSE Preparation
Your last year in secondary school focuses intently on everything you need to know prior to sitting for your final exam.
Science, maths and English may occupy nearly all of your study time. What about your language studies?
Rome was not built in one day.
This adage reflects the idea that anything meant to be permanent requires time, care and effort to build.
If you intend to retain and use all of the Italian words and phrases you learned in your language courses, you will have to expand on them – and other aspects of Italian language learning, until you sit for your General Certificate.
You should also develop a strong knowledge base of Italian history and culture; aspects of the Italian learning experience that may only have been glossed over during your mandated language classes.
The focus of your Italian studies is predicated upon your goals.
If you have absolutely fallen in love with our favorite romance language, to the point that your entire future hinges on your ability to use the proper verb tense and express yourself fluently, your studies should be all-encompassing.
Conversely, if you have opted for Italian classes because your mates have all chosen to, you might be satisfied learning only Basic Italian.
Find the best Italian teacher here.
Either way, you will most likely spend a great deal of time during your Italian lessons studying the written word: reading comprehension and the ability to write in Italian.
You will most likely study classic works, among them, quite possibly, Dante's Divine Comedy.
Your initial forays into Italian language learning makes it possible to envision a future in which you semester in Naples, Rome, Venice or Milan.
While there, immersed in the language and culture, you would most certainly develop your spoken Italian skills.
Speaking with shopkeepers, neighbours and new friends will give your listening skills a boost, as well.
Buon giorno, Signora! Scusi, sono inglese, non parlo italiano. Grazie mille, Signore!
Before any of that can happen, you must sit for your GCSE. In order to prolong your Italian studies, you must perform well on that exam.
To that end we recommend:
- Growing adept in your use and understanding of spoken Italian – through debate, conversation and narrative illustration
- Cultivating the ability to relate ideas in conversational Italian, over casual subjects
- advancing understanding, interpretation, explanation, and concept definition in the Italian language
- Developing the ability to read Italian fluently (comprehension is a given)
None of this will happen overnight, or effortlessly. You will have to put forth a substantial amount of work, time and dedication.
To make this burden lighter, please consider adding these to your studies:
- The Arts: music, especially Italian opera; movies and the study of paintings – from the renown classics by Leonardo Da Vinci to the more obscure canvases by Gentileschi.
- Sociology and economy of Italy
- you may be interested in Italy's impact on the UK and the global economy, as well!
- Science and technology
- from Galileo to Fermi, few countries have advanced scientific and cosmic principles as profoundly as Italy has!
Learning Italian at A Level
Upon satisfactory completion of your secondary education certification exam, you may further your studies in Italian language courses by preparing for A Levels.
Having diligently applied yourself to your language lessons, you will have hopefully attained high marks on the foreign language portion of your GCSE.
Having done so will make it easier for you to succeed at this higher level of language learning.
Obviously, this more strenuous exam requires more intense study of this most romantic of romance languages.
The good news is that the exam consists of two parts.
AS Level Italian
One portion concerns itself with spoken Italian: expressions and responses.
A criterion of this exam is how well you manage conversational Italian and your ability to engage in discussion.
To that end, the examination offers you the advantage of selecting the topic you will expound on.
Let us suppose you choose Italian culture as your topic.
Four questions that may require your thoughts and ideas could be:
- A trip to Italy: why do Britons prefer to holiday in Tuscany?
- Italian cuisine: discuss the comparative merits of pizza, lasagna or pasta Bolognese
- in fact, you may choose to discuss each region's signature pasta dish
- Italian music: from Andrea Bocelli to opera, what the Italian music scene offers the world
- Italian architecture: from the Vatican to the Tower of Pisa, how building design has impacted the world
Of course, you would be speaking Italian during these discussions. Of course, you Italian pronunciation as well as vocabulary would be assessed.
The second portion of the AS exam covers reading and writing.
Overall, the emphasis is on fluency in writing.
Essay prompts will be both oral and written, with the intent of gauging comprehension in both methods of communication.
You will have two and a half hours to compose your thoughts and put them on paper.
Italian spelling, word order, verb conjugation, and use of adjectives and adverbs all weigh on your ability to write and understand la lingua d'italia.
A2 Level Italian
This exam follows the pattern of the AS level, but with more intense focus on your ability to use new language in more diverse situations.
It also tests your ability to understand and respond to Italian audio, in following instructions and in debate.
Speaking Italian at this level should demonstrate a proficiency that comes from intensive language usage: perhaps an immersion program.
You are not expected to be fluent at this stage of your Italian language lessons. However, you should demonstrate yourself as advanced intermediate.
You could perhaps sojourn through Siena or Sardinia, picking up language along the way.
This suggestion is not as outlandish as you may think.
Schedules and finances permitting, spending a significant amount of time anywhere in Italy – Florence or Milan, if you are a fashionista, is perhaps the best way to imbue yourself with Italian language and culture.
If this type of immersive journey is out of your reach, you could chat with a native speaker online. There is no better way to improve your conversational Italian than, well, having Italian conversation!
The speaking and listening portion of the A2 requires you to speak Italian for thirteen minutes.
The written portion calls for you to submit a researched essay about life in Italy.
Here is where the intimate knowledge you gained of Italian schools, society and traditions during your stay in our favourite Boot will help you.
Where do you go from here?
The International Baccalaureate in Italian
When you elect to sit for Italian exams at A Levels, you are making it clear that Italian phrases will be a part of your everyday life.
Of course, your career field does not have to be language studies; you could focus on anthropology, architecture, history or art.
Equally clear: having sat for A Levels, you anticipate attending a university for more Italian courses.
In fact, the above-mentioned report compiled by the British Council reveals that most anyone who opts for Italian at GCSE level maintains their love of l'italiano throughout their academic career and beyond.
The trouble is, with societies around the world becoming more competitive, a university degree, even from the finest UK institutions, is not necessarily a passport to a better job.
If you aspire to be such a global citizen, you must surely intend to prove your knowledge of Italian through the International Baccalaureate.
Especially if you have just completed a few semesters at the University for Foreigners at Perugia.
This most rigorous of exams requires you to sit for six separate segments, including a foreign language component.
As you have been studying Italian for most of your academic career, wouldn't that be your language of choice?
Another facet that you must choose for your IB – as the International Baccalaureate exam is known, is an aesthetics subject: music, art or theatre.
Molto Bene! That is where you will shine!
Again, we assert: learning a language means learning its culture.
That means the food, the music and movies, the art... everything about Italy.
As you have been compiling an Italian phrasebook over the years, as you have grown enamored with how to speak Italian; for all of the Italian articles you have read or composed, all of your dedication to learn a language comes down to this.
Every Italian language course has prepared you for this moment: validating your Italian vocabulary at the highest level possible.
Find a language course with a private tutor near you:
- Italian language courses london
- Italian language courses Manchester
- Italian language courses Leeds
The platform that connects tutors and students