With a little help from your friends

You’re interested in learning Italian, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

But, as you’ve probably worked out by now, learning a foreign language is a time-consuming business, with a high chance of eventual failure.

Life gets in the way. Doubts, or conflicting priorities may well mean you make less progress with the language than you initially hoped.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It IS possible to learn to speak and understand Italian to a good level.


With a little help from your friends, of course!

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me ?
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
(Does it worry you to be alone ?)
(Are you sad because you’re on your own ?)
No, I get by with a little help from my friends

What are friends for anyway?

Or more pertinently, how can friends help you learn Italian?

Well, there are two ways.

First of all, but maybe less obviously, you’re going to need someone to speak Italian WITH, aren’t you?

Of course, Italy’s full of Italians (maybe your country is too…)

So, it can’t be that hard to find someone to practice with, can it?

Well no.

But you won’t get very far picking on random strangers and conjugating verbs at them.

You’ll need to be forming actual relationships.

That is to say, making friends.

If, on the other hand, actually talking to people in Italian is not a part of your reason for learning the language, I guess you could ignore this part.

But unless you have an Italian partner, Italian relatives, Italian colleagues, or you live in Italy and so can’t get away from Italians, unless that’s you, it could be that the ONLY people you will speak Italian with are the friends you make on your Italian course.

If you take a course in Italy, hopefully Italian will be the “lingua franca” of your little group of new friends.

That’s why you should avoid the temptation to comunicate with classmates in English, or another language, even though it’s much easier.

You want friends you’ll speak to in Italian.

At first, that might be very limiting, but don’t worry. It gets easier, and in the end, it’s really worth it.

After the course, you’ll keep in touch through Facebook, e-mail, Skype.

And so keep practicing and improving your Italian.

A shoulder to cry on

Then there’s the other reason why you’ll need friends to help you learn Italian. You’re going to need some moral support!

Learning anything involves reconfiguring your brain, and learning something as complex as a foreign language means spending plenty of time in a sort of in-betweeen state in which you won’t have got where you want to be yet.

You’ll be stressed out, not understanding things, not managing to express yourself effectively, and generally not finding life nearly as easy as it usually is.

That feeling will diminish in time. But as it’s rare to find anyone, ever, who can speak, read, write and understand a foreign language as easily as their own mother tongue, you may find it will always be with you, at least a little.

So, as in the song, you’ll be singing out of tune, maybe for quite a while.

And, as in the song, you’ll need friends to help you get by, when the inevitable psychological ups and downs present themselves.

So, where can I find some friends?

Funny you should ask that.

I was about to mention our Winter Offer on 2014 Italian courses at our school in Bologna. Pay a deposit by the 17th of December and you’ll be entitled to 20% off any group course, any time next year.

If you know you want to do this, but aren’t sure when yet, that’s no problem. Secure your discount with the deposit, then let us know your dates when you’ve finalised them.

For more information about the Winter Offer 2014, click here. Or go straight to our online shop to confirm your discount with a deposit.

Only 4 days left!


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment; however, the biggest problem I’ve had, is finding an opportunity to use any of the Italian I learn. I need to find a native Italian speaker to have a conversation with. Especially, one who’s going to assist and/or correct me. Anyone who can speak any English will only speak to me in English (despite my requests otherwise) and those who don’t speak English aren’t interested in having a “conversation”. Even in Italy, I can go days without saying more than a dozen words in Italian and those are typically of the type “Vorrei due panini – grazie”. Even having one native speaker isn’t enough, because there’s a dynamic that only exists when two or more natives are speaking to each other. Other than posting an ad for a speaking partner, I don’t have a solution for this problem, but it is a significant one; at least, for me.

    • Hi Nick,

      There IS a simple solution. Trust me, this works SO WELL!!

      Did you know, Italians fill their free time with “courses”. We don’t just go swimming, for example. We do a “swimming course”.

      Language courses are popular, but also crafts, culture, lots of things.

      To find out what’s on offer, look out for flyers posted on walls, ads in newspapers, or search on the Internet.

      OK, so what you do is this:

      1. Choose something that won’t attract foreigners (i.e. NOT an Italian course) – another language, or something cultural or “sportivo”

      2. Sign up and attend classes. Don’t worry if you’re not really into cake-decorating or kung-fu, because…

      3. .. you’ll find your classmates receptive to proposals like going out for a pizza together. Italians attending courses expect to make new friends. It’s part of the point. They may even approach you to suggest swopping English conversation for help with your Italian. Take advantage of any social overtures, and you’ll soon have a circle of new friends!

      If you don’t have any better ideas, look out a cheap Spanish or German course. That’ll do the job!

      Hope that helps