Italian Language Classes Will Stoke Your Passions!

Italian language classes are the best way that you can learn about the culture, meet new friends and experience Italy ways of which tourists only dream.

When I decided I wanted to move to Italy, my second priority, after getting my Italian passport, was to develop my language skills. I looked into a number of options, including taking a class at a University, using online tools, following bad suggestions like only listening to Italian music or watching Italian movies and I even looked into how the Foreign Service teaches languages. In the end, I decided a varied approach, which included books, podcasts, movies, private tutors, iTalki and classroom study would keep me on my toes.

Popular Italian Language Classes

Rick Steves Italian Phrase Book

Don’t go anywhere without one of Rick Steves’ amazing travel guides, and this phrase book will help you navigate Italy even better!

I’ve previously written about language exchanges and online learning, but this post will focus on language schools that can help you on your journey. These schools are available for adults as well as children as young as preschool age. The sizes of the classes can vary as well, from only 2 or 3 students to as many as 15. They can also be taken in the evenings or during the day multiple times a week like a traditional college course or once a week for the busy student looking for a smaller time commitment.

University Italian Language Classes

Most larger universities have a language department and in a large enough school, Italian will be an available course of study. When I was a full-time undergraduate student I took Italian as a part of my normal workload. At that time I didn’t know my future and unfortunately I didn’t take the course too seriously. I thought that since I knew a bit of Spanish from high school, that the course would be an easy A. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The lessons I learned, however, were important: There are no half-measures. Take language learning seriously and make the commitment of time and effort.

L’ITALIANO per l’arte

Sara has written an amazing book that combines learning Italian with Italian art that makes language learning fun!

My second experience with language learning at a University was when I was an ‘adult’ in my late 20’s and living in New York City. NYU had an Italian language and culture department that offered courses in the evening for part-time students. This fit my schedule perfectly, and since it was considered Continuing Education, the other students were adults as well. This time my focus was on preparing for an upcoming and first trip to Italy. I thought a couple classes would get me far enough along to handle anything. This was also very wrong. After two semesters I was comfortable with letters, numbers, days, months and some basic verbs. Not quite enough to fully engage deeply in the small Sicilian mountains towns that were an important part of that trip.

Once I decided to return to my Italian studies, I was now in my late 40’s and I was no longer interested in being the ‘Old Guy’ in a class of much younger students, so I looked for an alternative.

Smaller Single Location Italian Language Classes

Italian Language Classes - Dante

Dante, The Father of The Italian Language

L’Italiano Per La Cucina

Have fun learning Italian while cooking some amazing and traditional recipes from Italy. I completed the entire book and it was delicious!

Moving away from the University setting, I wanted to find a school that focused on Italian Language learning and development. These are examples based on my familiarity with schools in New England, but you should use these only as examples because there are many other schools around the country like these that you can find with a quick Google search.

  • Passport To Languages – This is a small but passionate school based in Rhode Island that offers classes in Italian and Spanish. The classes are typically in-person, but during the pandemic they switched to online learning, like many other schools.
  • Burlington Sons of Italy Lodge 2223 – The purpose of this lodge is to enroll all eligible persons to promote national education, encourage the dissemination of Italian culture in the United States and Canada while protecting and upholding the positive image and the prestige of the people of Italian heritage in the United States and Canada. There are other lodges around the country that have a similar mission, so you might benefit from seeing if there are any Sons of Italy lodges in your area.
  • La Scuola Piccoli Italiani di Boston – Children as young as 2 years old, depending on their existing skill level, can immerse themselves in this school, which began holding classes in 2014 and whose objective is not only to help children maintain or improve their Italian, but above all, give them a way to grow and form friendships.
  • The Italian Cultural Society in DC – The Italian Cultural Society of Washington D.C. is a center for cultural and social events in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. It also offers courses to learn or improve your Italian language skills. Its stated mission is: “to enhance the appreciation and knowledge of Italian language and culture”. They create opportunities to explore the many facets of Italian culture primarily through the Italian Language Program, founded in 1974, thanks to contributions from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Larger Italian Language Classes And Schools

These are a few more schools, some non-profit organizations and others are for-profit. Again, these are only examples for a place to start and you shouldn’t consider these an endorsement, apart from the first on on the list:

  • The Dante Alighieri Society – I do recommend this school because I have attended classes here and I appreciate the passion and professionalism of everyone involved. The society is a non-profit organization that promotes the Italian language and culture. The link is to the Cambridge/Boston chapter, but there are a few more locations in the US and many more abroad.

  • The Berlitz Language Centers – When I was growing up, the Berlitz name was synonymous with learning a language. I looked into this when I began my journey, but decided it wasn’t for me. It’s worth a look to see if a Language Center is near you and if it offers the types of learning you are interested in.

  • Foreign Service Institute – This is for Government Employees only, but I wanted to include it because their history and influence pervades a lot of language learning options in the US. The School of Language Studies provides language and culture training to U.S. government employees with job-related needs. It addresses all aspects of language training, from classroom instruction and distance learning, to learning consultation services and testing.

  • EF Languages – Their experiential learning programs, which include guided tours worldwide, focus on language, travel, cultural exchange, and academics. They also offer degree programs at secondary, university, and postgraduate levels as well as cultural exchanges.

Recommendations For Italian Language Learning

My view, and that of others that I’ve read, is that you should definitely augment any classroom based learning with other channels. This will exercise other parts of your brain and more importantly keep this language learning journey interesting.

Living Language Daily Italian Calendar

This fun calendar is great to sit on the corner of your desk and help you learn new Italian words everyday. I used it for years!

For example, be sure to include reading Italian books, listening to podcasts in Italian about a subject you are interested in, watching Italian movies without English subtitles and doing language exchanges with Italian speakers who want to learn English. This will keep you passionate about learning Italian and help make the journey fun.

If you are interested in moving beyond Italian language classes, or if you just enjoy learning about the cultural differences between Italy and the US, check out some of these other posts:

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