For students learning Italian, there exists an entire acronym soup with which they can prove their mastery of la lingua italiana: CILS, PLIDA, CIC, among them.

Although each of them addresses a different audience, they all have the same fundamental purpose: to certify the test taker's ability to use the language of Michelangelo.

In a class apart, there is DITALS: Didattica dell'italiano come lingua straniera.

This acronym represents a pair of exams meant for non native speakers who intend to teach Italian as a foreign language.

To have heard without retaining does not make knowledge – Dante Alighieri

That quote summarises DITALS exactly!

Successful completion of this exam - as with any other language learning, starts with a good memory.

Now we present everything you need to know about certifying to teach Italian language competences.

Check how you could learn Italian online.

What is DITALS?

As with CILS, DITALS is a language certification program sponsored by the University of Siena.

Whereas the CILS certifies a candidate's level of fluency in Italian, DITALS measure a candidate's ability to teach Italian as a foreign language.

As a learner of Italian with an eye toward teaching this romance language, you should contemplate which phase of certification to aim for:

  • theoretical level, including an assessment of teaching methodology, and
  • practical level – where you would be evaluated in a live classroom setting

Of course, you would have to demonstrate your ability to speak Italian.

After all, it makes no sense to teach Italian without knowing how to speak it, does it?

Every year since its inception in 1994, more than 2000 lovers of Italian language and culture have successfully demonstrated their aptitude to deliver Italian courses through this process.

Mastery of theory and practicum are DITAL success keywords!

Learn to address an audience during your DITALS training
DITALS classes give you practical experience addressing a classroom Source: Pixabay Credit: Thumprchgo

Exploring DITAL's Two Levels

Let us keep in mind that this assessment's two proficiencies levels are independent of one another. It is not necessary to take the Level 1 exam before applying to sit for the Level 2 ordeal.

Equally important to know: if a candidate demonstrates the ability to deliver Italian lessons effectively at Level 2, it is implied that s/he has also mastered all facets of Level 1, even if s/he does not sit for that exam.

With that being said, let us now investigate the two levels of competency.

Level 1 DITALS

This certification validates elementary skills in the field of language instruction to a specific learner profile.

The successful candidate would be qualified to teach:

  • Italian for beginners – for children and teenagers
  • university students who are at intermediate level of Italian grammar and vocabulary
  • immigrants, and international professionals; anyone who must have a measure of proficiency in Italian speaking in order to seek work in Italy
  • adults who want to study Italian – for any given reason.

To give Italian language courses to non native speakers, a teacher would probably emphasise vocabulary, grammar, Standard Italian pronunciation, and the art of Italian conversation.

For students hoping to semester at any of Italy's fine universities, a teacher's burden would be more a question of instilling aspects of Italian culture, even while developing Italian vocabulary, phrases and expressions.

Some topics such a teacher might broach are:

  • art history
  • architecture
  • fashion
  • regional dialects, including Tuscan and Florentine
  • the Renaissance and other significant epochs
  • the fabulous Italian opera

To that list, we may also include the modern Italian music scene: quite lively!

Level 2 DITALS

This certification demands expanded competencies in teaching methodology.

Obviously, one would not conduct lessons in Italian for children the same way as teaching business persons.

Candidates who apply for this exam envision a more formal teaching environment, with a more diverse student body.

Certifying at this level entails a more thorough knowledge of teaching theory, as well as having at least some practical experience.

Read on to learn how to obtain teaching experience!

Teach adults Italian in the UK with your DITALS learning experience
Holders of DITALS certification can teach Italian to adults as well as children Source: Pixabay Credit: Thumprchgo

Preparing for DITALS

If you've ever been to Rome or Milan, you might have strolled past the Leonardo Da Vinci school.

Not the one he attended; the one that is named after him.

These modern-day language and culture schools advocate an effective strategy for successful DITALS preparation.

Because learning a language is, in itself, a complex undertaking, it stands to reason that being able to teach languages to others must be all the more convoluted.

The method used for exam preparation is based on a constant scrutiny of teaching principles and a desire to cultivate the most potent learning methods.

Using this learning philosophy, all language skills are mobilised: speaking and communicating; understanding and reasoning; reading and writing.

Diverse media such as music, movies, novels, and newspapers are called on to flesh out a curriculum relevant to today's classrooms.

These preparation courses come in many formats.

  • You could opt for evening classes or sign up for an intensive, short-duration seminar.
  • If you and some mates would like learn a new language together, you would find tutors available for small groups.
  • If you are really behind on your studies, you may choose private lessons.
  • And, of course, you could sign up for language lessons of a more traditional nature.

Language learning sessions in all formats are targeted to all audiences, from the foreign student seeking to do one more year of study in Florence, to those wishing to prepare a certification like the DITALS.

For DITALS preparation courses, you would be hard-pressed to find better tutelage than the Leonardo Da Vinci Institute.

A two-week, full immersion course costs around 1380 (£1230), which includes two individualised lessons per day, along with group instruction.

We agree that that price is substantially higher than... free Italian lessons, for example.

However, the quality of instruction you are treated to, as well as individual guidance from native speakers of Italian who have years of teaching experience make the expense well worth it.

If you prefer a more relaxed learning experience, you could enroll for the standard curriculum, which entails:

  • thirty hour-long lessons in teaching theory, in a class of no more than fifteen students.
  • Teaching materials for review, at your disposal
  • a supervised internship
  • a certificate of completion

Fees for this class are just under 525€ (£470), with a 75€ (£67) registration fee.

To take advantage of the Milan campus' intensive learning program, you can contact the registrar using:

To contact the director of teaching affairs personally:

Should you prefer speaking rather than typing, you may dial: +39 02 8324 1002.

To register for any of Da Vinci Institute courses, you must be able to communicate using Italian, at least at intermediate level.

Study time at the DaVinci Institute involves language teaching materials and methodology
Da Vinci Institute students can learn in small groups or one on one Source: Pixabay Credit: Ernesto Slava

Who Can Register for DITALS? (How Can They?)

To register for the Level 1 exam, candidates must have earned a certificate of higher learning, and should be able to prove at least some previous teaching experience.

Persons who have completed an internship in Italian as a second language are also eligible.

Level 2's registration requirements are a bit more stringent.

Native speakers of Italian are required to hold at least a Bachelor's degree in Human Sciences. For those whom Italian is a second language, at least one certification of Italian linguistics is requested.

Imagine how quickly you will be accepted for enrollment if you are fluent in Italian!

Obviously, successful completion of Level 1 would virtually guarantee your registration green light for the Level 2 exam.

If you are not eligible to sit for Level 2 when you apply, high marks on Level 1 could springboard you on the fast track to the higher level.

Registration Procedures

To enquire about any courses or register for either DITALS exam, you must contact the school – the information is provided above.

Although their website is wonderful, there is no information on it regarding course dates or exam schedules.

Furthermore, to sit for this exam, you must sojourn to Milan.

A trip to Italy? What could be finer?

Test particulars will be communicated on the day of the test itself.

Those include: how long the discrete segments last, what is expected, and so on.

Upon satisfactory scoring, you will receive your diploma in via post, right to your address.

Framing and displaying it is all up to you.

For more information about your desired Italian language course, you can turn to to the University of Siena web page, where you will find all manner of information concerning that language school.

The Bottom Line

Learning a language is no casual undertaking.

Teaching words and phrases in another language demands a firm grasp on methodology, as well as the phrases and conversational nuances so common when speaking Italian.

Your students will learn more or less the same way, regardless if you are teaching how to speak English, or if they want to learn Russian, speak Japanese or learn Chinese.

Helping your students learn how to learn is perhaps as critical as teaching them how to speak Italian.

Remember that quote from Dante, at the beginning of this article, about listening without remembering? Do you see now how apt it is for this article?

DITALS practically demands you to be fluent in Italian.

Your Italian learning should take you not only to nearly native speaker level, but should instill comprehension of language mechanics – a vital aspect of Italian language lessons. So make sure your own Italian lessons are up to par - with a Superprof tutor, for example.

The same applies to any other language you learn!

It is true that methodology – in learning and in teaching, is vital for students to progress more quickly, if doing so is appropriate.

For example: if one student in your class masters new words faster than his peers, the next step would be to challenge him with more elaborate grammatical constructions, or maybe irregular verb conjugation.

Here is further reading on Italian language certification exams.

Check out Superprof to find your ideal private tutor to help you master the Italian language:

Alla prossima, caro! Ciao!

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.