Why Learn Italian? 10 Reasons To Get Started Today
“A different language is a different vision of life.” — Federico Fellini
Are you considering taking up Italian? Perhaps you’re looking for some solid reasons to dive into it?
If Valentino, Versace and Armani aren’t enough to push you over the edge, we’ve got ten other reasons why you should start learning Italian today.
- 1. You’ll get the most out of your trip to Italy
- 2. So you can understand Italian menus
- 3. You’ll experience Italian movies more deeply
- 4. So you can appreciate Italian music more
- 5. To open up chances for friendship or amore (love)
- 6. It’s one of the easier languages to learn
- 7. Italian can give you a leg up on your career
- 8. Learning Italian is great for your brain
- 9. Italian is a wonderful boost for your self-confidence
- 10. It will make you more likely to travel to Italy again
1. You’ll get the most out of your trip to Italy
When you land in Italy, you’ll immediately understand why people are so passionate about this country. Italy is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich countries on earth.
Speaking even just a little Italian will open doors and make native speakers warm up to you. You can get a more authentic experience if you’re able to brave the markets and negotiate with the vendors in their language.
Or how about taking full advantage of the Italian tradition of passeggiata, the ritual of aimlessly walking the streets—gelato in hand—looking at people and being seen?
You’ll understand what the storefronts say, you’ll be able to follow traffic signs and you’ll get a chuckle at what those Italian teenagers have written on those walls (and what the tour guides wouldn’t translate). Speaking Italian just makes the experience of spending time in Italy so much sweeter.
2. So you can understand Italian menus
How much better would your dining experience be if you actually understood what Italian menu words like “alla” (in the style of) or “bresaola” (cured beef) meant?
Italian food, from pasta to pizza, is some of the world’s best—and Italian restaurants are everywhere, so you’ll be able to use your restaurant Italian wherever you go.
Knowing Italian makes for a better dining experience. For example, “panna cotta” is literally cooked cream, the pasta “cannelloni” means large tubes and “espresso” means “pressed out.”
Seriously, if food is the only reason for you to learn Italian, then every bite-sized lesson will still be worth it.
3. You’ll experience Italian movies more deeply
The first two big reasons for learning Italian have something to do with living “the good life” or “La Dolce Vita.” (Incidentally, that’s also the title of one of the most acclaimed Italian films of all time.)
And speaking of Italian films, there’s a host of world renowned directors, like Fellini, Antonioni and Visconti, whose visual aesthetics have influenced today’s international and Italian cinema. The stories they tell can only be fully appreciated in the Italian language.
If those directors don’t convince you of the benefits of hearing films in the original language, then you need to go watch films like “I Cento Passi” (“One Hundred Steps”) or “La Grande Bellezza” (“The Great Beauty”) and you’ll understand why Italy bags the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film more than any other country.
4. So you can appreciate Italian music more
And while we’re talking about great cultural contributions, we might as well bring up Italian music. Learning the language opens up a whole category of songs and lyrics that can only move you like Italian can. Did you know that Mozart, the venerated German composer, even wrote many of his operas in Italian?
But you don’t even have to go back hundreds of years for this one, you can appreciate modern Italian music with Pavarotti or Bocelli, or for more pop fare, you can go with Pausini or Mengoni.
5. To open up chances for friendship or amore (love)
They say Italians are some of the most wonderful and gracious people in the world. They’re kind, funny and very friendly. But sometimes it’s hard for that to shine through if you’re having trouble understanding each other.
Learning the language gives you the ability to create and nurture relationships with native speakers. Talking of life-changing, your life will change when you gain an Italian as a close friend or as an intimate partner. You couldn’t even begin to do that if you don’t learn the language. And hey—don’t forget: there’s a reason Italian is one of the Romance languages. These are seriously romantic people.
If you’re interested in learning Italian while also making friends, try out the Tandem app. It’s a language exchange app that helps you look for Italian native speakers who want to learn English. They’ll help you polish your Italian, and you’ll help them sort out their English. It’s a win-win!
6. It’s one of the easier languages to learn
Just how easy is it to learn Italian? Well, according to the Foreign Service Institute, the US government’s premier language training institution, Italian is considered a Category 1 language on their “Language Difficulty Ranking.”
What this means is that according to the FSI, a native English speaker on average only requires around 23–24 weeks or 575–600 hours of language training before reaching general proficiency in Italian. (If you think that’s long, just think of the Category 4 languages like Croatian, which requires 1100 hours.)
Better yet, Italian shares its root with English, and both languages share some of the same sounds and feature similar words.
For example, there are lots of cognates between Italian and English, like agente (agent), finale (final), impossibile (impossible), diligente (diligent) and melodia (melody).
There’s also a strong correlation between how you spell a word and how you pronounce it in Italian. There aren’t many silent letters, missing sounds and mysterious spellings (like in French or English).
7. Italian can give you a leg up on your career
If you were a business owner and looking at two resumes, you’ll probably naturally gravitate towards the bilingual candidate, even if the job doesn’t involve speaking in a foreign tongue.
Being bilingual has a halo effect, making the job candidate seem more traveled, more experienced and more knowledgeable about the world.
In a survey of 2100 HR departments, a whopping 93% of employers admitted looking with favor on those who speak another language. So that bodes well for anybody who knows a foreign language or two. But as a career move, why pick Italian? Italy is the third-largest economy in the Eurozone and the eighth largest in the world.
Finally, a Worldwide Business Research Digital survey revealed more and more US companies looking to expand to Europe. And, along with Germany and France, Italy is a target for expansion.
8. Learning Italian is great for your brain
Researchers from Dartmouth have shown that the brains of bilinguals have more engaged and enhanced neural connections than monolinguals. Many people used to believe that knowing a second or a third language was detrimental because the rapid switch between languages excessively burdens our noggin. As it turns out, our brain can easily handle multiple languages without any problems. What a great excuse to learn Italian!
In fact, learning multiple languages serves as “exercise” for the brain, and studies have shown that learning a new language can lead to elevated mental capabilities. It can, for example, improve memory.
Italian has the added advantage of being a highly expressive hand gesture language, which has been shown to enhance language learning.
9. Italian is a wonderful boost for your self-confidence
Italian is arguably one of the most beautiful languages in the world! It’s the tongue of the greatest painters, poets and geniuses of history. It’s the language of Valentino, Versace, Ferrari, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, Caravaggio, Federico Fellini, statesman Giuseppe Garibaldi, actress Sofia Loren and so many more amazing people.
When you know the language of these greats, it works in synergistic fashion, giving you an inherent boost in self-confidence.
Open a restaurant menu in that swanky Italian restaurant knowing exactly what it says? Confidence. Submit a resume knowing you have a leg up on the competition? Confidence. Being friends with that cool Italian fashion designer? Confidence. Experienced traveler to Italy? Even more confidence.
10. It will make you more likely to travel to Italy again
We’ve already pointed out that having some Italian in your arsenal will make your trip to Italy much more enjoyable, but another aspect of traveling to consider is frequency.
When you speak a language with some confidence, all of that travel anxiety disappears. This makes it much more likely that you’ll book your next vacation to a place where you can comfortably talk to the locals—slang and all.
So learn Italian, choose a favorite city or region, and keep coming back. Repeat travel will boost your language skills more each time you do it.
Every minute of learning the Italian language and culture will definitely be worth it.
If you truly want to live the good life, and if you’re looking to learn a language that will serve you well in the years ahead—Italian should be on the top of your list.