Language 101: An introduction to Italian

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Why should you study the Italian language?

  • Know how to navigate gourmet menus from Liguria to Sicily
  • Gain a new appreciation for musical technique and explore Italian music
  • Master the language of Dante and enjoy some of the world's greatest literature
  • Begin studying the Italian language

Whether you want to write love poetry like Dante, or dig deeper into the flamboyant movies of Federico Fellini, learning the Italian language could open so many doors. Spoken by over 60 million people across the world as a first language, Italian is more than a way to choose the best pizza. It's a rich, living tool that can enhance your cultural life and travel plans. Let's see how.

Roam across Italian culture from the Middle Ages to the present day

One of the unusual things about the Italian we speak today is that it closely resembles its medieval equivalent. That's very unlike the English of Geoffrey Chaucer, which is almost incomprehensible for modern day speakers without a dictionary by their side.

Italian is different because it has been codified under a set of rule that derive from the master of medieval Italian - Dante Alighieri. the author of the Divine Comedy and some of the most beautiful love poems ever written, Dante came up with a set of rules about how Italian should be spoken.

At the time, and for centuries afterwards, Dante's rules were ignored. But after the unification of Italy in the 19th century, things changed. The country's rulers decided to adopt the poet's rules to impose the same language across their territory - ensuring that today's literature isn't far removed from poems written 800 years ago.

Get a deeper understanding of Italian cuisine

If you've travelled to Italy and visited a neighbourhood trattoria, you'll appreciate that not all menus are written in English. And you'll also know that choosing the right dishes is very tricky without some elementary Italian skills to help decipher what's on offer.

Italy possesses Europe's richest gastronomy, and exploring the various regional styles is one of the great joys of touring the country. But everywhere you go, you'll find enigmatic menu choices. From simple snacks like the olive-baked frisella breads of Puglia, to sausage flavoured pasta alla norcina in Umbria, you'll come across foods that aren't easy to find back home. And when you do, identifying which ones to eat will be far easier with a diverse Italian vocabulary in your memory bank.

Take your musical appreciation to another level

Italy was also one of the birthplaces of classical music. It was the home of the violin-making Stradivari family, Baroque geniuses like Vivaldi and Scarlatti, and world famous opera composers of the 19th centry such as Puccini, Rossini, and Verdi. Even today, every city has its classical orchestra, and churches or theatres regularly play host to recitals. With a good grasp of the Italian tongue, attendees will find it easier to follow opera arias, or read notes about the day's performer.

However, Italy's relationship with music goes deeper. If you learn Italian, you'll start to understand key terms like "piano", "fortissimo" and "andante" - words which pepper musical scores across the world. The concepts behind these terms govern how music sounds, and understanding the language will be a huge benefit for players and listeners alike.

Expand your European language skills with Italian

Additionally, learning Italian will help you develop listening, speaking, and writing skills in related languages. Spanish, Catalan, and French all share similarities with Italian, and being fluent in one helps to master all of the others. If you're travelling in Europe, you can often get by with Italian in southern France and Spain. At the very least, you'll have a few clues about street signs and menus.

Italian also offers a chance to go back in time, all the way to ancient Rome. Latin isn't too far removed from modern Italian, and dedicated students can easily branch out to grapple with Virgil or Horace if they desire.

Learn Italian with the most advanced courses around

  • Learning the Italian language has a vast array of benefits, but - as with all languages - it can seem daunting to learn when you are just starting out. However, learning languages is much easier if you use the latest mobile-based teaching tools.

  • At Babbel, we offer a range of Italian courses, from 1 month starter options, to 12 month schedules. All are delivered via a special learning app, which includes listening, reading, writing, and speaking exercises. It even includes voice recognition systems to make sure you've perfected your pronunciation.

  • Every course module is based in conversational situations - ensuring that learning never becomes boring, and the knowledge you gain is as useful as possible. The end result is a level of confidence and fluency that old-fashioned courses could never provide. So have a look at our course options, pick a package, and get started. Italian fluency is a few modules away.