While Italian seems less important than some languages in the global economy, Italian holds a special place in our hearts for its links with art, fashion, music and food.

Why learn Italian?

Italy is a place of fascination to many people, with its beautiful landscapes, fascinating architecture and stylishly dressed people.

This is a country which manages and conserves a huge number of the world’s archaeological and artistic pieces of work, and is tremendously popular with tourists for this reason.

Popular culture, including everything from Roberto Benigni’s film-making talent to Andrea Boccelli’s music to the best recipes for pizza margherita, are made even more enjoyable when you know a little of the lingua franca!

Where do you learn Italian?

You will find a variety of options available for your child to learn Italian. This may be by mixing with Italian-speaking friends or family, or it may involve enrolling in lessons. Some ways to do this are listed below:

  • Private language schools
  • Universities or polytechnics for older children
  • Local Community Centres, where you and your child could choose to learn together
  • Home Schooling
  • Language Exchange Programmes
  • e-Learning courses

What age can your child start learning Italian?

A child’s ability to grasp new and multiple languages at an early age is well documented. Pre-school children from ages as young as 3 or 4 can start learning Italian simply by being exposed to the language at home, or in structured play activities (such as those run by Fun Languages).

However, age is no barrier when it comes to learning a foreign language and it would be a great opportunity for you to learn alongside your child.

How do you progress over time?

The rate of progression will be determined by the child’s age, the amount of exposure to the language, and the amount of time they spend practising. The more opportunities your child gets to practice what they learn in everyday situations, the greater will become their level of proficiency.

Generally it is recommended that older students spend at least 1 year focused on learning the fundamentals of Italian and then on an ongoing basis continue to maintain the language ability by attending classes or practicing with other Italian speakers.

What equipment do you need to learn Italian?

The equipment you choose will depend on the age of your child; some suggestions include:

  • Italian-English dictionary (electronic or hard copy)
  • Reference books including grammar and vocabulary books
  • Audio CDs in the car
  • Video tapes or DVDs to watch
  • CD-ROMs with the aid of computers

You will also need to expose you child to Italian speakers whenever possible.

How much does it cost to learn Italian?

Cost ranges from free (learning from friends or learning from various free websites) to several thousand dollars (for full immersion at an overseas language school).

For regular children’s lessons you could expect to pay anywhere between $12 to $20 per session, depending on the age of the child and the size of the group.

How much time does it take to learn Italian?

Class times vary but generally most courses meet once or twice a week.

Classes generally run for 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the age of the child.

Older children would be expected to spend at least another hour outside of class to revise and complete their homework. It would be ideal if a student could spend at least 5 hours per week outside of class to practice, but this is often unrealistic.

Great Italian Websites

www.eurolang.co.nz/italian

Background on why your child should learn Italian and how Italian courses are delivered

www.italian.about.com

A must-use resource site with loads of information relating to the Italian language and ways to learn it

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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