Thoughts on Italian language schools

My personal feedback on Italian language schools, after studying in Siena, Firenze (Florence), Lucca and Verona:

  • They are fun!
  • I have been at four schools and they were all fairly similar in terms of having a set amount of time set aside for grammar and then time for conversation; they will push you to speak!
  • There is typically an on-line test you need to complete (fill in the banks) prior to arriving at school.  Then there is an interview the first morning, in Italian, to help place you in the right class.
  • Don’t get too hung up on what level you get placed in as there is always a diverse group of students in each level as everyone has learned different things in a different order.  Sometimes you may end up repeating some grammar you know (but that can be good for revision) but the next day there may very well be something totally new. If you feel you are in totally the wrong class, just tell the director/administrator as soon as possible.
  • Don’t over analyze the cost, etc.  The bigger the town, the more expensive things will be, but there is no clear measurement on what you will learn or experience so pick a place you want to spend time in and just go with it!
  • Most schools run from 9:00-1:00 with one or two breaks in the morning. The time is a little “loose” depending on how fast people return from the breaks, etc, but keep in mind that you should use the break time to converse!
  • It is possible to arrange private lessons in the afternoon.
  • There is a hugely mixed bag of students; all ages, sexes, ethnicities, level of language skills, etc.
  • We are all in the same boat in terms of being alone and far from home so willingness to mingle and get together for lunch, dinner, etc, is high
  • You will learn a lot about Italy, and other countries too, due to the diversity of the students
  • There are always a lot of German speaking students (German/Swiss, due proximity to Italy) and, interestingly, quite a few Japanese students
  • Spanish and French speaking students are few as the languages are so similar to Italian in terms of conjugation, etc., so once they learn how to switch up the pronouns and handle some other grammatical issues they are gone!
  • The schools arrange excursions for students to experience the culture and help students mingle.  Sometimes you might have to pay for the excursions (depending on transportations, entrance fees, etc).  Everything is in Italian!!!!!!!
  • The school will arrange accommodation; be it home-stay (live with a family), shared flat with other students, or a private flat….or even B&B or a hotel!
  • I have heard very mixed opinions on home-stays.   Sometimes there is a lot of conversation, other times not so much.  Sometimes the food is skimpy, other times good, sometimes the woman of the house is older so you might worry about coming home late, etc.
  • Where you live is a great topic of conversation and there are often visits to see one another’s accommodation; it is like being back at college!
  • Once you have accommodation, and you like it, it is best to negotiate directly with the homeowner for longer or future stays
  • Making sentences is initially quite difficult as learning the connecting words is not really emphasized in class (i.e. “that”, “which”, “about”, “any” and other such words that string together a sentence)
  • There are a lot of verb tenses!!!  Yikes!
  • The pronouns are ridiculous!  They are always changing based on usage and in an effort to maintain a melody to the language / ease of pronunciation
  • There are no set rules to prepositions; some of them have rules, but not always, so often times it is a matter of memorization of usage.
  • There is always something new the next day!!!!   Just when you think you know what is going on!!!
  • Learning another language is difficult, but fun, and when you hit a frustrating day just think back to where you were a week ago!
  • Personally, I thought it helped to take a break after the first 6 weeks and then went back for four more weeks. I felt like my head was overloaded with information and needed a break, and some time for the language and grammar to sink in.
  • I did buy an Italian grammar book written in English as I honestly couldn’t remember any of the grammar I learned back in primary/secondary school so when we were told that something was an indirect object or indirect pronoun or a gerund, I couldn’t remember what these things were so wasn’t able to identify them in an Italian sentence!
  • You can’t learn a language overnight!   Some students are enrolled for 3 months, six months, a year!  It all depends on how much you know about the language when you start, or how well you know a similar language, or how well you pick up a languages, etc.  There are nuances to every language.  I have seen Americans show up here without knowing any other language and thinking they can be learn Italian in 1 to 4 weeks…..think again!!!   Languages are very complicated!
  • It is an amazing experience to learn another language in its homeland!!!!!   It is also a great way to experience a country as you are experiencing what it is like to actually live there and converse with the people.  Plus, you meet other classmates!

One Response to Thoughts on Italian language schools

  1. child care says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing

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