Conversations are best face-to-face, aren’t they, and what better way to learn a different language than with a personal tutor. Yes, online, audiobooks and apps all add to a viable learning experience, but the language isn’t just about words and grammar. It’s about inflection and expression, too — especially a passionate language like Italian.
Can you imagine speaking a language like Italian without the use of the face, arms and hands?
A good tutor will encourage you to participate actively in the lesson and, if appropriate, use activities, games and practical exercises focused on your needs. Traditional explaining concepts using only schematic structures are OK, but a good tutor will, through conversation, understand a way of tailoring the sessions to your specific needs, whether that's to follow an academic route or simply a visit to the country.
If you're new to learning a new language, you may be apprehensive about this new challenge, especially if you have struggled in the past. Sadly, many people approach learning a language in the wrong way and make the process unnecessarily difficult for themselves. A natural and intuitive approach is needed and, in this way, you'll confidence as you progress. Tuition can be as intensive or as relaxed as you wish, but finding the right path initially is essential.
Tuition should be designed around you and you only. Learning quickly is great, but finding your pace is more important so that you build your knowledge incrementally and confidently. That's the job of the personal tutor, to explain the subtleties of a language as beautiful as Italian.
So what are the benefits of learning Italian?
Well, as a native English speaker, there’ll be many words in the Italian language that are familiar. Approximately 30% of words in the English language are of Latin origin, and the Italian language remains the most closely associated with the language of the Romans. This is true of the other Romance languages, too, but Italian boasts easy pronunciation. The phonetics of the language can be readily understood from the written word, which is a huge advantage for the beginner, while the Italian verb tenses correspond quite closely to the English tense system.
Learning a foreign language can give you fresh insight into your own language. You’ll notice that many of the words that English shares with Italian sound evocative and, well, romantic:
tremendo (tremendous), orrendo (horrendous), innocuo (innocuous), for example. You're likely to spice up your English vocabulary, as well as supplement your Italian. Take eating out. we're all familiar with spaghetti Bolognese, but did you know that the arrabiata of spaghetti arrabbiata literally means angry, or that the primavera of your pasta primavera means spring? Or, when you eat farfalle (the ribbon shaped pasta), that you’re eating butterflies? In no time at all, you’ll be asking for one panino, instead of one panini (which is like asking for "one sandwiches"), and two cappuccini instead of two cappuccinos.
There are distinct intonations, accents and gestures inextricably linked to language, and while the languages of northern Europe are imbued with a relative reserve, the southern European languages are commonly associated with flamboyant self-expression. So prepare for a certain amount of adjustment to the way one naturally behaves in the social setting. You’ll notice a gradual, organic change as you become more proficient, and you may even find yourself incorporating such gestures into your day-to-day English, as well.
Then there's the wider picture of worldwide culture. Italy has more UNESCO sites than any other country in the world and 60% of the world’s art treasures. If there were any country you'd be wise to become accustomed to, Italy is the place.