Italian, like a lot of foreign languages, is in decline in schools. This is most likely due to foreign languages no longer being obligatory at GCSE.
However, this could work in your favour. After all, if you chose to study a language like Italian and ended up speaking it fluently, you’d have a unique selling point on your CV.
Aside from your career prospects, there are plenty of great reasons for learning a language.
Why learn Italian at school? What are the best ways to study a language when you’re young?
Are Foreign Languages at Risk?
Since languages stopped being obligatory at GCSE and A Level, there’s been a decrease in language learning in the UK.
Spanish is currently the only language with increasing numbers of students. Other popular languages like French and German have seen a massive decline in the last couple of years and the Italian language is almost nowhere to be seen in some places.
Despite reports saying that our limited language ability is costing us when it comes to international trade and business, foreign languages are still an optional subject when it comes to GCSEs and A Levels. In fact, ever since languages became an optional subject, the number of students taking them has been in decline.
So where does this leave the Italian language? As we said earlier, language study in the UK is in decline and Italian isn’t even one of the most popular languages. However, that doesn’t mean that learning Italian in schools is impossible and should be ignored. In fact, the British Council considers Italian the 7th most important language for Britain’s future.
That said, it’s unlikely a 14-year-old will see that statistic as a good sign for taking an Italian course.
The same might be said for foreign language departments at secondary schools. After all, why offer Italian language courses when languages like Spanish, Arabic, French, Chinese, German, and Portuguese are all considered more important?
This is why Italian is always going to struggle and it’s a shame. However, that doesn’t mean that children can’t study Italian at GCSE or A Level. There are also ways to study Italian outside of school.
Can You Learn Italian at Secondary School?
While a foreign language isn’t compulsory at GCSE, schools are still required to offer students the change to learn a new language. Learning a foreign language at primary school has been compulsory since 2014.
There's still hope for language learning in the UK! However, since only one language has to be offered, it’s unlikely there'll be Italian lessons available.
While this might sound like a lot of doom and gloom, in independent schools that have continued to offer Italian, most of them have managed to increase the number of students studying Italian. It’s a start!
However, when you consider the lack of schools offering Italian as a subject and how few students decide to take an optional modern foreign language GCSE, you’ll hardly be surprised to find out that very few students in the UK take Italian at GCSE.
4 Reasons to Study Italian
Both parents and students are probably wondering what the point is in studying Italian at school or even bothering to learn any Italian phrases or grammar before that trip to Italy. Why not study Spanish or German, for example? Before deciding not to take Italian lessons, let’s have a look at a few great reasons choose Italian as your new language.
1. Speaking Italian is Great for Your Career
As you probably know, the jobs market in the UK is fairly competitive and it’s not looking like that’s going to change any time soon. While we hardly want to get into a long and boring economic analysis, we do have to look at business. Importantly, companies are looking for all types of skills.
25% of students take French at GCSE and 14% take Spanish. German is the third most popular language at GCSE with 9% of students taking the subject.
What about Italian?
Only 1% of students take Italian at GCSE! If you were to study Italian and GCSE and then continue onto A Level or a Degree, you would be a one-in-a-hundred candidate for certain jobs. Even if you were barely conversational or just knew basic Italian, your Italian would probably be significantly better than the majority of candidates! That doesn't mean you should stop studying once you finish your Italian for Beginners language course!
Furthermore, Italy is 9th in terms UK exports. This accounts for around $13 billion of business. That's a lot of money for Italian speaking businesses to get involved with. In fact, we do more exporting to Italy than we do to Spain. So while the number of those studying Spanish is increasing, the numbers of those studying Italian (excluding independent schools) is decreasing. Surely this means that there's demand for candidates with who've taken an Italian lesson or two and have language skills. There are also plenty of jobs in banking, fashion, tourism, agriculture, and design for those who know how to speak Italian.
2. Italian might Be Easier than You Think!
Around half of English’s vocabulary is of Latin or French origin. This means that a large number of words came from the same place as Italian words did.
These common roots mean that when you look at a text during your Italian language course you’ll probably understand more than you would have thought. This also means that there isn’t a single English speaker on the planet that knows absolutely nothing about Italian. You’ve really no excuse!
If you’re thinking about learning Italian but are worried about it because you’ve been studying a different language until now, this will put your mind at ease. If you’ve been studying another Romance language like French or Spanish, that’ll help you with Italian since the languages also have a lot in common with each other.
3. Italian Is a Beautiful Language
Aside from how good Italian could be for your career, you can’t argue that Italian is one of, if not the, most beautiful languages.
It’s hard not to love that accent. Even simple things like greetings and basic expressions are enough to make your heart melt! People all over the world love it.
Imagine if you could speak it! Learning a language because you love it is arguably the best reason to learn it.
4. Learn More about the Country and Its Culture
If you learn Italian, you’ll have lots of opportunities to travel and learn more about the history and culture. After all, you can't separate language and culture.
While Italy isn’t the world’s largest country, Italian culture is one of the richest in the world. Did you know, for example, that Italy is home to 60% of Europe’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s also home to 40% of the world’s. You can also learn about famous Italians like Marco Polo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, Rossellini, Vivaldi, and Verdi.
Learn Italian with Private Italian Tutorials
While you now know the situation when it comes to learning Italian in schools and the state of foreign languages at GCSE, that doesn't mean you can't look at other Italian courses or other ways to get language lessons.
While you mightn’t be able to learn Italian at school or study it at GCSE, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn Italian quickly in the UK. In fact, we have a solution. Did you ever consider learning Italian outside of school? There are a number of interesting options available to a budding solo Italian learner such as yourself.
An Italian private tutor is the most obvious one. More and more parents are opting to pay for academic support and tutoring and are also looking for ways to learn Italian for free online. An Italian tutor can also be useful to help students who are studying for their Italian GCSE.
There are plenty of advantages to hiring a private tutor. For one, students benefit from one to one tuition from a quality educator. You can also benefit from learning from a fluent Italian speaker. This makes private Italian tutorials massively different to classes in school with tonnes of other pupils where you might end up repeating verbs for hours despite having already learnt the conjugations at home.
In private tutorials, the lessons are completely personalised for the student. A private Italian tutor will work with their student’s strengths and weaknesses in order to get the most out of them. A shy student can build their confidence with a private tutor. In fact, a student who might never speak during their Italian language lessons at school might spend the whole hour speaking in Italian with a high degree of fluency because they feel more comfortable with their tutor or aren't worried about embarrassing themselves in front of their peers.
With the right tools, you can make learning Italian much easier.
Improve Your Italian with Apps
While most parents probably struggle to get their kids off their devices, smartphones and tablets can be a massively useful tool when it comes to learning languages.
For example, Italian grammar isn't always easy and you probably don't want to waste your precious time with your tutor asking them about certain conjugations when you could be practising speaking and your Italian pronunciation. Apps are a great resource in this instance for those wanting to look up how to conjugate certain Italian verbs.
In addition to their Italian classes, one of the easiest ways to practise Italian, wherever you are, is through an app. If you look for ways to learn Italian online, you'll see that there are plenty of specialised apps and websites offering free lessons and resources for those wanting to learn the language. Here are a few that we recommend:
Learn Italian Vocabulary - 6,000 Words
All of these apps are great for those just starting to learn Italian and large portions of them are completely free. Above all, apps can make learning Italian words and phrases fun. There are also apps that work like a phrasebook where you can store and manage vocabulary lists with games, quizzes, and challenges to beat.
Don't forget that these apps are also great for anyone who’s learning Italian. Not just students doing Italian at GCSE.
Check out Superprof to find your ideal private tutor to help you master the Italian language:
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