Give Siri a Break: Study Italian Abroad with 7 Programs for True Immersion
Siri knows best. Just look at this conversation:
Me: Hey, Siri. What’s Italian for “book”?
Siri: The Italian word for “book” is “libro.”
Me: Thanks! …Hey Siri, what’s Italian for “study”?
Siri: The Italian word for “study” is “studiare.”
Me: Ok, got it. Hey… Siri. How do you say, “Hey girl, are you a book? Cause I’m totally checking you out.”
Siri: Hey lover boy, I’ve booked you on the next flight to Italy. You are now enrolled in an Italian language class for the summer. I’ve also packed your things… including your leopard-print Speedos.
The above conversation, of course, didn’t happen. (I have no leopard print Speedos and you’ll never prove otherwise!)
Needless to say, our phones are smarter than they’ve ever been. We’re literally doing everything with them now—reserving restaurants, checking out the weather, finding a soulmate and learning a new language.
Be that as it may, there are just some things that even the latest version of Siri can’t do.
For true Italian immersion and maximum learning, head to Italy!
We’ve rounded up seven amazing study abroad programs that mix learning with soaking in the culture (and sun) of Italy—leopard-print bathing suit optional. Enjoy!
Why Study Italian Abroad?
There’s simply nothing that can possibly rival being in the heart of Italy and immersing yourself in the language. If you’re really serious about Italian, then studying it abroad might just the best decision you’ll ever make.
1. The whole country is your classroom.
Experience 24/7 immersion and avail yourself of countless opportunities for authentic encounters with native speakers.
By visiting Italy, you’re putting yourself in a situation where you can’t sneeze, visit the restroom or get so much as an orange unless you do it in Italian. (Sure, you can play the English-speaking tourist and possibly be understood, but that just defeats the purpose.)
Imagine what it’ll do to your language skills when everywhere you turn, there’s a potential “teacher” who can, with animated gestures, make the language come alive. Everything happens live right before your eyes, in an Italian market, piazza, street or cafe.
When you go to Italy to study, you don’t just get one language teacher.
You get a whole country and a classroom that never closes.
2. You’ll learn more than the language.
All of that language learning? It takes place in a huge classroom full of the most delicious pizza and pasta your mouth has ever tasted.
Because guess what: The people who speak this beautiful language also have this enchanting culture that can easily captivate you. The people are the bearers of a proud and colorful history, tradition and practices that hail back to the ancient Romans.
Forget about your Gucci and Armani. (Sacrilege, I know). Instead, you get Michaelangelo and Da Vinci—the most celebrated artists in the world.
Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with wonders like Pompei, Assisi, the Amalfi Coast, Verona… to mention only a few.
You’ll get so much more from your time in Italy than just language learning.
3. It’ll be the best time of your life.
Today, when you look at pictures of grandma or grandpa, you probably see black-and-white photos of people who never smiled, had big hair and wore “that.”
Decades from today, when your own grandchildren ask for younger pictures of you, make sure they see more than Instagram shots with your face turned into a puppy’s, or a Boomerang video of you eating chips on the sofa… with your feet.
Make the most of your life!
Make your future grandkids jealous with pictures of your time in Italy. Show them the Instagram pictures of what having a good time in an Italian piazza looks like. Let them see what your young face looks like after five hours of hiking on Mt. Vesuvius.
Regale them with tales of your adventures, in fluent Italian.
Going abroad to study will change your life profoundly. More often than not, it’ll be for the better.
Time in Italy will touch your heart, mind and soul. You’ll never be the same.
Give Siri a Break: Study Italian Abroad with 7 Programs for True Immersion
Before you head out, make sure you have the basics down. Many programs offer lessons for complete beginners, but honestly, it can be overwhelming to suddenly lose your ability to communicate because you don’t know the language.
It’s a good idea to try some mock immersion exercises before you go. And no one does at-home immersion better than FluentU!
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Use FluentU’s annotated subtitles, interactive vocabulary lists, flashcards and more to brush up on your Italian before you embark on your language-learning journey.
That said, here are some study abroad programs you might want to check out!
ESL is a leading name in study-abroad services, offering language programs in 250 destinations around the world. One of those places is, of course, Italy.
ESL knows the host of language learning programs available in the country and can give you recommendations on the best, cheapest and most fun courses to take.
Think of ESL as a consultant who knows the whole language-learning landscape. You tell them your plan. Do you want a year’s worth of intensive language study? Or perhaps a leisurely summer course with lots of excursions on the side is more your style.
Whatever you want to get from your trip, ESL will give you a tailor-made program or the closest match. And it’ll explain to you, in wonderful detail, everything you need to know.
So whoever you are—whether you’re someone who wants to make that “gap year” count, or a professional who needs help with Italian, pronto—there’s a program just right for you.
If the idea of planning the trip on your own, ask for a brochure, request a one-to-one meeting or get a quote. It’s free and there are no obligations.
The Umbra Institute is located in Perugia in central Italy. This university town serves as the backdrop of your Italian adventure.
This program gives you 20 hours of weekly classroom language lessons, taught entirely in Italian. But it’ll also immerse you in the enchanting Italian culture through community engagements and extracurricular activities.
Experience guided tours and excursions to interesting sites around the city. Participate in authentic encounters with local students and others residents of Perugia. (An Italian girlfriend/boyfriend, however, isn’t guaranteed.)
The city isn’t overflowing with tourists, so you get a more relaxed old-town feel and a more unsullied cultural immersion. This is where you don’t read about art, architecture and history: You live it.
So, if you’re a college student with at least 2.75 GPA looking for a summer blast, Umbra Institute’s Italian program will be one heck of a time.
Academic Programs International (API)
API is one of the leading “program finder” services. It matches college students with programs or courses that best fit their goals.
API believes that when you give students the chance to experience high-quality but affordable study-abroad-programs, it becomes a transformative force in their lives.
API has 21 destination countries. Five of these locations are in Italy: Venice, Florence, Rome, Tuscany and Taormina. You can try it out for the summer, the whole semester and even for an entire year.
Want to study Italian abroad and do an internship at the same time? Are you also interested in doing volunteer work, rendering service to warm locals? There’s a program for you.
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an advanced learner, you’ll find something that matches your goals.
Contact them now and request more information. You’ll be glad you did!
I have a feeling you’ll positively have a blast with this one. The Cultura Italiana language school is located in the heart of Bologna, Italy—in a medieval building overflowing with Bolognese history.
Courses vary from the “intense,” which consist of five four-hour sessions a week, to “so not intense.” Believe it or not, they have programs for those interested in learning Italian along with tailoring skills, opera singing, cooking and more.
And if you’re over 60 years old, they’ll give you a 10% discount, proving that it’s never too late to learn a language!
Something else you can look forward to is the extracurricular activities that involve visits to historical and cultural sites of the city.
And, since you’re actively encouraged to “live like an Italian,” why not grab some classmates and hound local cafes, bars and restaurants on a Wednesday night?
There’s always something happening in the city and it’s this mix of classes taught by seasoned teachers and immersion into the daily lives of local residents that guarantee solid language results. (Sobriety, though a virtue, is definitely optional.)
The Italian Academy
This time, learn Italian in Sicily. (Specifically, in Syracuse.)
But why study in Sicily?
Well… because it’s Sicily!
Goethe, the German novelist, said it best: “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.”
And with The Italian Academy taking mentorship of you, you won’t just have “clues.” You’ll have the complete package: language and cultural lessons that take you from classroom to authentic sites, and from knowing next to nothing about Italian culture to appreciating every drop of it.
The Academy has interesting topics you can learn alongside Italian, like “Food and Wine,” which gets you deep into Sicilian cooking, teaching you recipes and culinary knowledge passed through generations.
There’s also “History, Myths and Culture,” which is for people who display a keen interest in Italian philosophers, mathematicians and writers. Thirsty for adventure?
Take “The Sicilian Adventure,” which involves activities like trekking, kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding and so many more.
And all these courses will also teach you Italian, to boot! (See what I did there?)
Check them out today!
Byron Tree is a recognized center for the “PLIDA”—a standardized test that checks your competence in Italian. (The other tests are the “CELI” and the “CILS.”)
The team at Byron Tree espouse a “communicative” teaching philosophy. This means you’ll partake in different role plays, exercises and situations where you’ll need to use Italian in order to inform, inquire, describe or explain.
Six types of Italian courses are offered here, including an intensive course and a course with a more relaxed schedule. The intensive course is a Monday to Friday, 9-12 affair—perfect for students who want to grab the Italian language by the horns and tame it in the shortest time possible.
If you think you’ll learn best with a one-on-one program instead of hamming it up with a group, then the “Individual Course” might just be for you. Your teacher organizes the lessons accordingly.
Byron Tree also offers courses on specific topics in addition to teaching the language: Italian cuisine, music and cinema. If you want to do a deep dive on any of these topics, then 25 hours’ worth of lessons will make you the envy of all your friends (and those future grandkids of yours).
There’s also a work-centric course which focuses on the kind of language you’d need if you were employed in a specific type of job. If you’re working in an industry like business, law, medicine or opera (spot the odd one out!), this course will help you get over those work-related language barriers.
And lastly, “Study Holiday” is what you should do when you want classes in the morning and gallivanting around the eternal city of Rome in the afternoons. Enjoy walks, sports activities, film showings and opera and see language in real life.
The Galilei Institute in Florence counts companies like 3M, Caterpillar, British Airways and the U.S. Department of Defense as clients.
The school also offers group courses given by other institutes, but the program it’s most proud of, the feather in its cap, is the one-on-one classes provided by its seasoned teachers. The Institute claims that one week in the individual lessons program is equivalent to a month of lessons in a regular-sized class.
Students receive rigorous training in an exclusive setting, where specific needs are immediately met. Imagine a situation where you don’t even have to raise your hand to ask a question: You get answers immediately.
The lessons are specifically tailored to your needs and you’re guided by someone who thoroughly knows your weaknesses and is intent on making them extinct.
That’s what the Galilei Institute brings to the table. If you’re short on time or if you really want to get Italian handled, consider their one-on-one courses.
Follow Siri’s advice. Go on an adventure. Lose yourself in Italy. But, of course, always stay safe.
There’s just nothing like being in Italy, chatting up the locals, making memories you’ll remember for the rest of your life. And, if nothing else, it’ll make your Instagram be the envy of those who preach the virtues of a “Staycation.”