Dianne Hales is the author of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World; La Bella Lingua, a New York Times best-seller; and Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon best book of the year. She received a knighthood, with the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana, for her contributions to promoting the Italian language. You can download her most recent book, “A” Is for Amore, for free at diannehales.com.
The country of Italy, with its culture and iconic lifestyle, beckons to be understood. Speaking its language can help. Obviously you can study Italian as a foreign language in a school abroad or online, but nothing and no one will be able to enrich and involve you like an Italian school in Italy.
As Italy opens its doors to the world, here are seven excellent reasons to come and study Italian in its native land:
1. Immediately practice what you learn. Living in Italy means going to stores, ordering at a restaurant, taking the bus. What better way to acquire grammar than to apply it as soon as you close the book? Or even during the coffee break?
2. Compare notes with students of other nationalities and share the joys and sorrows of the “bella lingua.” A class of international students enriches the learning of the Italian language. United by the same passion and the same fatigue (can we talk about the subjunctive?), they become friends, often for a period of time that goes beyond the lessons themselves.
3. Italian teachers are usually Italian. As such, they put passion into explaining adjectives. They get excited conjugating verbs. They know how to drag students into the vortex of adverbs. As students learn from teachers, so do teachers from students, in a mutual exchange of knowledge.
4. Italian teachers are usually Italian – did I already say that? You don’t just learn grammar in their lessons; you also absorb culture. Italian is closely connected with the history of an ancient nation that was technically united only about 150 years ago. This history has left deep traces in the language we speak today.
5. Italy means fashion, art, painting, food and wine, architecture, music, industry and craftsmanship of excellence. In order to intimately understand the essence of this multifaceted nation, it is necessary to spend time in Italy – ideally, at a school of Italian language and culture.
6. Italians speak with their hands–which entitles students to do the same! If you don’t know how to ask how much something costs, just rub thumb and index finger together. Don’t know how to say “exquisite” or “delicious”? Put your finger on your cheek! Italians will never miss a chance to help you communicate, and you’ll learn a new word and gesture every day.
7. In Italy you do not age at the table. Food in Italy is an integral part of the culture. Studying Italian will help you remember the difference between penne and maccheroni — and choose the right sauce for spaghetti (not the same as the one for fettuccine).
Learning Italian is a unique and wonderful experience, but it’s not easy, and it requires constant commitment and effort. That’s why it’s important to study in Italy. The time you spend learning the Italian language in the Bel Paese will be truly precious, like a magic treasure chest in the most beautiful of dreams.
LICET (Italian Language, Culture and Tourism) is an association of Italian language schools that maintain their independence and particular identity while fostering the spread of Italian language and culture throughout the world.