If you’re reading this, you’re interested in learning Italian, or if you already speak some, in raising your level.
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OK, so let’s talk about how to set next year’s learning goals.
Deciding you want to learn Italian, or improve your existing knowledge, is a good start.
But as a guide to action, it’s on the vague side…
Perhaps you’re considering doing an Italian course in Bologna, which would, of course, be an excellent idea.
That should help you improve your Italian, right?
And it’ll be lots of fun, too.
But ‘doing the course’ is not, presumably, your ultimate goal.
‘Better’ Italian is.
So you can travel, work or study here.
Or just for the joy of learning something new, for the satisfaction of achieving something.
Whatever your reason is, though, ‘improving’ and ‘better’ aren’t very precise.
What exactly do you want to develop?
Grammar? Vocabulary? Speaking? Listening? Reading? Writing? Pronunciation? Cultural knowledge? Accuracy? Fluency?
All of those?
And by how much?
Let’s say you’re a beginner, right now.
By which we mean that you know nothing, or next to nothing, of Italian.
An objective, then, could be to ‘not be a beginner anymore’.
On the plus side, that’s a pretty achievable objective.
Go for it!
On the flip side, though, it’s still not very precise.
It could cover anything from ‘knowing a bit more than I did when I started’ to ‘having enough Italian to cope with most everything’.
Or any intermediate point!
How much you study, what you study, and in what way you study in 2018 will obviously depend on the time you have available.
But your decisions should also reflect where you plan to be this time next year.
You might therefore find it helpful to set yourself some more concrete learning goals for the coming twelve months.
You may not reach the end of your Italian studies in 2018.
But setting concrete goals will help you ensure that WHAT you learn is commensurate with the REASON you are learning.
So that you’ll advance in a measured and predictable way towards the point you eventually want to reach.
Doing this is much less difficult than you might assume.
Most people studying foreign languages will progress at a fairly predictable rate.
Obviously, if you’ve learned a foreign language before, that previous experience might speed things up with Italian.
Whereas if you’ve never stepped foot outside your country’s borders, that could slow you down some.
Especially at the start, when everything seems very strange…
Typically, though, if do, say 20 hours of classes, you should be able to cover ‘X’ amount of material.
Courses, course books and language-learning websites are designed to include a certain quantity of material to be learnt.
It’s expected that some people will go faster, others slower, but give or take a few weeks, most people will get there in the end.
But where is ‘there’?
Set next year’s learning goals by looking at where you are now, the time available (a year in this case), and where you could therefore expect to be at the end of the period.
Here the concept of ‘level’ is essential.
We use the ‘Common European Framework of Reference’, which has six levels.
Here are brief descriptions of what you should be able to understand at each level, just to give you the idea:
- A1 Beginner or Elementary – can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases
- A2 Pre-Intermediate – can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance
- B1 Intermediate – can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
- B2 Upper-intermediate – can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation
- C1 Advanced – can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning
- C2 Proficiency – can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
(For more on levels, see this article: What’s my level in Italian?)
Let’s take me as an example.
I’ve lived in Italy for nineteen years and I’d certainly be able to pass a C2 level listening test.
Do I understand everything?
No, of course not.
But ‘virtually’ everything?
More or less.
In contrast, I’ve been learning Swedish for just a year, teaching myself and taking a few online lessons.
I could put a check mark next to A1 – familiar expressions, very basic phrases – yup, no problem!
And I can understand sentences and frequently used expressions, blah, blah, but probably with some pretty big gaps.
So I’d want a bit more practice before I put myself up for an A2-level exam.
Anyway, the point is that, once you have an idea of how long it might take you to complete a level, you can look at the time you have available, make a realistic evaluation of your level of motivation, and bingo – you’re in a position to set learning goals for 2018!
So, how long does it take to complete a level?
On the school website, we suggest between 80 and 120 hours of classes.
Think of a 20-hour-a-week class. That’s four hours each morning, from Monday to Friday.
For an experienced, motivated learner, four weeks at twenty hours a week would likely bring an improvement of approximately a level.
We talking not just grammatical knowledge here, or new words, but the ability to understand, to express yourself, to read, to write, and so on.
Less-experienced learners, or those whose native language is very different from Italian, might take five weeks, or six, to show the same improvement.
Spanish and French speakers learn Italian faster, as their native tongue is so similar. If you’ve already learnt one of those languages, you’ll find Italian easier too.
Suppose, then, that you plan to attend an evening class in your home town for say two hours a week, from January to December, with a break for the summer.
Call that thirty weeks, so sixty hours.
Add a bit of homework, but knock off time wasted because the teacher has the flu.
That’s a good chunk of a level, at least half.
For part-time, evening courses, a level a year would be perhaps a little ambitious, but achievable for those who put in the extra work.
Reading and listening more outside class, taking a few one-to-one lessons for the extra speaking practice, these things will help.
Turning to full-time courses, at our school in Bologna we’d expect you to progress much faster, simply because you’d be doing so many more hours in a week.
You could go from ‘complete beginner’ to ‘end of level A1’, as explained above, in a month or so. Six weeks, if you want to be on the safe side.
What then, if you planned to combine study at home with a course, perhaps in the summer, in Italy?
Now you’re talking!
A chunk of evening classes, a chunk of ‘intensive’ study in Italy, total up the hours and what do you have?
With sixty hours of evening classes, plus forty hours (two weeks) in Bologna, you’d certainly improve a whole level in 2018.
The neighbours will be amazed!
Personally, I’m aiming for the end of A2 by June, when we’re planning a holiday in Sweden.
Then in the autumn, I’ll start the B1 material, hoping to get around half-way through it by this time next year.
So do the math and set your next year’s study goal.
Tomorrow, I’ll have some suggestions as to ‘What To Put In Your Study Plan’.
And on Thursday I’ll be writing to help you decide ‘What Sort Of Italian Course?’
December is the month when we run our popular ‘Best Offer Of The Year’ on Italian courses over the coming twelve-month period.
This week only save 20% on group Italian courses of any length starting in 2018 at our school in Bologna, Italy.
- Pay the ‘Winter Offer – 20%’ course deposit (just €120 instead of the usual €150)
- You’ll save 20%, not just on the deposit, but on the whole cost of your course
- The offer applies to group courses only, not to individual or online lessons
- Your course can be of any length: the longer you study, the more you learn
- No need to decide the dates of your course now, just email us when you know
- The promotion ENDS Christmas Day (25th December 2017).
Don’t put this off – save 20% on your 2018 course now!
- Choose your Italian course and check the price
- Check out flights to Bologna and accommodation
- Read about our simple booking process
- Then over to our online shop to pay your course / accommodation deposit
- That’s it – you’ve saved 20% on your 2018 Italian course!
Find out more about studying Italian in Bologna on our website.
Or email Stefania with your questions: email@example.com