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Why Italian?

Collage of Italian landscapes

Six Reasons to Learn Italian

Learn to eat, live and love like an Italian

From Six Reasons to Learn Italian by Michael San Filippo, updated March 14, 2018

When you have an innumerable amount of other “useful” languages to choose from, why would you choose Italian? It is a language spoken by around 59 million people, compared to Mandarin’s 935 million, for example.

Despite the fact that every day more and more Italians are learning English, there is still a huge appeal to learn la bella lingua.

Here are six reasons for you to study (or continue studying) Italian:

Investigate Your Family History

Many people feel drawn to Italian because it’s a part of their ancestry, and learning Italian can be a great tool to utilize as you. While you can do a lot of research in English, actually visiting your great grandfather’s birth town in Sicily will require more than just a list of survival phrases. To truly get a feel for the locals and hear stories about what the town was like while he was alive, you will need to know Italian. What’s more, being able to understand and tell stories to your living family members will add a depth and a richness to your relationships.

Experience a More Authentic Italy

Imagine that you’re going to Italy for ten days and you’ll be flitting between Rome, Pisa, Florence, and Venice. It would be relatively painless to get by with English. However, by learning enough Italian to order food at restaurants, ask for directions, shop at fashionable boutiques, and make small talk, you’ll see a more authentic side of Italy that typical tourists rarely experience.

Dive into Italian Literature and History

While there are plenty of the classic Italian texts translated from Italian to English, there is something magical about reading Boccaccio in its original native form. The language has changed a lot since the Renaissance, so you can’t be expected to understand every word. If you only need to reference, instead of rely on, the English version of the text, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the sentiment behind the literature and have a better appreciation of the historical context it was written in.

Improve Your Craft

Perhaps you're an aspiring musician who wants to learn what adagio, allegro, and andante mean, or an who wants to improve her pronunciation. If you engage in any kind of craft that has Italian influence, it’s likely you’ll find new techniques to explore, new artists to discover for inspiration, and a renewed passion for your art.

Improve Your Memory

If you’re at all concerned about the possibility of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, that learning a language can delay the negative effects for up to seven years. However, at this point, there is no evidence that learning foreign languages can prevent the diseases entirely.

Live in Italy

If you’ve ever dreamed of waking up and walking outside to be greeted by an Italian lifestyle, learning Italian is a must if you want to feel integrated and experience how Italians live. When you make friends or are able to participate comfortably in community events, you’ll find yourself behaving, speaking, and eating like an Italian. If you’re interested in researching how to move to Italy, here is a great place to start.

Why Italian?

From the Italian American Committee on Education

  • A knowledge of Italian is important for people in business, the arts, technology and many professions. It also is useful for high school and university students planning careers in art,fashion, history, music, linguistics, education and international relations.
  • Students preparing for the SATs who have studied Italian tend to score higher on vocabulary and grammar. The reason is simple: Italian developed from Latin and an estimated 60 percent of the English vocabulary also comes from Latin.
  • Italian is the 4th foreign language most spoken in U.S. homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It also is spoken in Switzerland, parts of Africa, the Balkans, and the island of Malta.
  • Italy is one of the top five economies and is a leading member of the G8 Group of the wealthiest democracies in the world.
  • An estimated 7,500 American companies do business with Italy, and more than 1,000 U.S. firms have offices in Italy including IBM, General Electric, Motorola, Citibank and Price Waterhouse.
  • Italy is a world leader in machine tool manufacturing, with advanced technologies in robotics, electro mechanical machinery, shipbuilding, space engineering, construction machinery, and transportation equipment. Many of these firms have offices in the United States.
  • Italy's economy is changing: state-owned companies are becoming publicly held, opening up the Italian market to American investment.
  • Italy is a world leader in the culinary arts, interior design, fashion, graphic design, furniture design, etc. Those planning careers in such fields benefit greatly from knowing Italian.
  • Italy has long been a magnet for the tourism industry: in the Jubilee Year 2000, Rome alone hosted over 30 million visitors.
  • Young Americans who want to become physicians, dentists, and veterinarians, but who cannot afford the tuition at American schools, can study at Italian universities for a fraction of the cost. Their degrees are valid in the U.S.
  • Art historians need Italian. According to UNESCO (the cultural and educational agency of the United Nations), over 60 percent of the world's art treasures are found in Italy.