Need to speak Italian at work?
Trying to close a big Italian client?
Looking for a job in Italy?
Your casual Italian might not cut it.
If you want to make it in an Italian-speaking workplace, you’ll need to raise your Italian skills to a more professional level.
Don’t worry: With the nine Italian-for-work resources in this post, you’ll soon be comfortable speaking Italian in a professional setting.
What Is Business Italian and Why Should You Learn It?
You probably already know that people talk one way when speaking with their grandmothers/fathers and a different way when talking to their wives/husbands. (And not just because one is hard of hearing and the other simply won’t listen.)
Language—its type and use—is determined by context.
A congressman who speaks passionately about a bill on the floor of Congress will talk quite differently minutes later when he steps out of the building, walks a few yards over and buys half the inventory of a hot-dog stand.
You wouldn’t speak to your mother-in-law the same way that you speak to your pet parakeet. (Probably.)
And you might be tempted to run away in alarm if you’re on a plane and you hear the pilot do his best impression of Snoop Dogg over the PA, announcing “Yo, yo, yo, fellas hang tight. We gonna be high tonight, fo’ shizzle!”
It’s all about the context, people! The kind of language use depends on the situation at hand.
Italian is very much the same.
You have the Italian that you’d use with friends, peppered with passionate cusses and larger-than-life gestures.
But when you enter the workforce, you probably need to take on a more professional Italian—one that’s more formal, sans double entendres, idioms and innuendos.
And guess what: Italian for work isn’t just for, well, work. The more polite form of the language is also used when writing Italian reports, making presentations, conducting negotiations or even speaking to someone who you have a lot of respect for (or who has a lot of authority over you).
There are plenty of other settings where you need to hold off on warm familiarity and go for professional courtesy. Otherwise even your best casual Italian might end up sounding like a poorly done Snoop Dogg-impression in a situation that calls for a bit more tact.
That’s why it’s such a good idea for every Italian language learner to study some polite, work-oriented language skills.
That said, here are a few resources where you can enrich your command of business and professional Italian.
Learn Italian for Work with 9 Career-boosting Resources
Let’s start with some good old-fashioned books. This one is from Innovative Language Learning, the folks who brought you Italian Pod 101. If you haven’t used Italian Pod 101 yet, do it! It’s an excellent resource with over 1,450 audio and video lessons, flashcards, a great learner community and PDFs of their lessons—perfect for any level Italian learner.
Needless to say, you’re in good hands with this one.
With this book, you’ll learn phrases, vocabulary and dialogue appropriate for the business environment.
Let’s say you’re about to meet up with an Italian client or sit down for a business meeting. This book will prepare you for participating in dialogue that’s professional, but at the same time welcoming and friendly.
Each lesson contains a brief model dialogue representing a potential business situation you might find yourself in. This is followed by a line-by-line analysis of the conversation.
It’s a deep dive into what happens behind the scenes. And along the way, you’ll learn grammar concepts, cultural insights, relevant vocabulary and even a few alternatives phrases or expression you might use in professional situations.
Sometimes you don’t need a blow-by-blow account of a business conversation. Sometimes, you just need to know what to say.
This book comes lean. It’s 100 business dialogues composed of only four lines each, in flashcard format.
The bite-sized conversations cover plenty of business situations, from asking about the participants in a meeting to instructing your secretary to send clients in.
And yes, 100 business situations is a lot. But for the smart language learner, a lot more can still be gained by looking into the individual lines that compose the dialogues and thinking of different ways you can apply them at work.
For example, the lines “Mi organizzerò” (“I’ll make arrangements”) or “Vorrei vederLa nel mio ufficio” (“I’d like to see you in my office”) may be presented in a specific situation in the book, but they can come in handy for many other situations.
You can also use the flashcards to learn individual vocabulary words in context. Be creative in your learning with this versatile resource.
If you’re at a more advanced level in Italian and don’t need additional grammar lessons, this book might be right up your alley. It features some of the most common business terms and their translations as a “fast-track” learning resource higher-level learners.
Here, you’ll find 100 of the most common terms used in business, along with 600 phrase examples.
The terms you’ll find in this book include terms like:
- Consiglio di Amministrazione (Board of Directors)
- Rendita (Revenue)
- Risorse Umane (Human Resources)
- Prestito (Loan)
This one features words and phrases often only used in business, so they’re pretty specialized. If you want to sound fluent in that Italian memo you’re writing, keep this one handy.
Next, we head online for some courses and programs to expand your business Italian knowledge.
FluentU provides authentic language learning videos—like clips, conversations, interview footage and more—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
The videos use an interactive transcription technology, so you not only have Italian subtitles and English translations to help you follow along, but every word you see on your screen is actually a wellspring of learning. Hover over or tap on any word and out pops an information block that includes practically everything you need to know about it: a translation, examples, pronunciation and even pictures.
Use flashcards to view the word in other videos for a broader context, challenge yourself in adaptive quizzes that change according to what you’ve already learned, make your own customized vocabulary lists and so much more.
Videos are categorized thematically and by difficulty level, so search for “business Italian” content by looking into videos that relate to business, news and various different professions. Then, match it to your level of Italian for targeted learning and watch your skills bloom!
FluentU is available on your browser or as a phone app, so you can take your learning with you wherever you go.
Not everyone can travel abroad for their studies. When visiting Italy isn’t an option, bring the learning to you instead, with a program like Cyber Italian.
This service provides one-on-one lessons that are custom-tailored to your specific needs. You can use Cyber Italian with a PC, tablet or smartphone, so you can really work it around your schedule no matter how busy you are.
Put away those fears of embarrassing yourself in a classroom situation. Stop wasting time learning at the same speed as the rest of your classmates.
Instead, focus on your learning needs and communicate them to a teacher who can help plot a learning course for you.
For example, if you want your lessons to be about sales situations in Italy, then you can ask your teacher to focus on that topic. Or you can do a refresher on grammar. Whatever you need to make your Italian job dreams come true!
Lessons are conducted via Skype and are handled by topnotch, native-speaking professors and teachers. So no matter where you are in the world, your business or professional goals are always within reach.
Communicaid claims to be one of the leading providers of business Italian training courses. And thanks to over 20 years working with different industries, sectors and organizations, there might be something to this claim.
This course will ultimately give you more confidence to effectively interact with Italian clients and colleagues alike.
But before diving into your lessons, you’ll need to tell the program coordinators exactly what you want to get out of the course. You need to inform them, for example, about the specific field you’re in. This’ll help Communicaid assign you an appropriate mentor and it’ll give your teacher a chance to gather up relevant materials and examples.
You want intensive sessions? You’ve got it! You want to slow things down? No problem! Communicaid courses are specifically tailored to you.
Aside from the business language Italian course, Communicaid also offers other courses that relate to being a professional in Italy. These programs are: “Living and Working in Italy,” “Doing Business in Italy” and “Working Effectively With Italians.” Check them out!
Courses in Italy
At the end of the day, the best way to learn Italian for work is by actually being in Italy and taking in the language. So these three resource recommendations are on-site: courses conducted in some of the excellent schools and learning institutions in Italy.
Let’s kick things off with Inlingua, which has over 40 years of experience in language teaching and covers all levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). It’s also recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education.
The school is located on a historical palazzo right in the heart of the city of Ferrara in northern Italy, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The courses are conversation-based and the business Italian program promises to help you become more effective at your job. For example, you’ll learn how to handle meetings and video conferences, give presentations and communicate with clients and colleagues.
The staff and trainers are pretty flexible and they even do “in-company” training if you already have a job in Italy.
The school also gives plenty of support to their Ferrara students and can even organize tours, sporting expeditions and other extracurricular activities.
They can also help you with housing arrangements during your stay in the city.
This program is located in Verona, also in northern Italy, which is a major tourist destination thanks to Roman edifices like the amphitheater and the arena. The school, a building from the 1800s, is smack-dab in the center of the city and is just a stone’s throw away from the Roman arena.
“Italian for Work” courses are periodically offered by the school (when the class has at least three students).
The courses offered are: “Italian for Business and Banking,” “Italian for Tour Operators,” “Italian for Lawyers” and “Italian for Doctors and Nurses.”
You’re expected to be at least be a “B1” level in Italian—understand basic Italian—since that’s the medium of instruction used. These intensive courses run twice a week for four weeks.
The sessions, which take place in 90-minute stretches, are held in the afternoon.
Check them out for an intense but highly informative (and, let’s face it, fun) experience!
The school holds classes in Florence, Milan, Rome, Viarregio and Siena, and is recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education.
Their business Italian course is designed for students who would like to pursue professional interests in Italy.
The course covers topics like writing job applications, business letters, reports and contracts. Classes consist of guided analyses of sample documents. For example, you might look over a business letter and learn what the appropriate Italian headings, salutations and closing phrases are.
Aside from learning the written forms, you’ll also be taught to speak some of the most common words, phrases and expressions used in the field. It also covers the basics of Italian so that you’re prepared for anything.
Whether it’s with books, in-country studies or online courses, learning Italian for work has never been this easy.
So take your Italian to the next level and be on your merry way to linguistic and professional success.
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