7 Reasons to Learn Italian When Studying Abroad

Students chatting in front of bilingual signsSo, you’ve chosen Italy as your study abroad destination. You have your favorite travel guide and have read the latest blogs (including MilanoZine!) to find out more about your upcoming experience, where to travel, what to expect.

The only question you still have is a simple one: is it worth the time and effort to study Italian while you’re there? The language is really only spoken in Italy, a relatively small country, you think. You already speak English flawlessly. And, let’s face it, English is today’s #1 international language for business and travel. So why bother with a language that’s only spoken by around 85 million people around the world?

Because of these 7 excellent reasons, that’s why! Here are the top 7 reasons you absolutely have to study Italian while you’re in Italy.

    1. Become a prime candidate in industries of Italian excellence
      With an increasingly smaller world, speaking a foreign language is a great asset to have when looking for a job. And “Made in Italy” brands, especially fashion & design, food & beverage and the automotive industry, will really value your Italian language skills. Your CV will immediately stand out to prospective employers if you can boast a good level of Italian, unlike some of your peers.
    2. Become a master of other important skills
      There are lots of studies that look at the advantages of being bilingual. The idea is that learning (and regularly using) a foreign language can help develop other parts of the brain. Studies have shown that bilinguals are better at using their executive control system, more creative and better at making decisions. That means speaking more than one language can make you even smarter in other areas.
    3. Become a truly global citizen
      Polyglots are said to make up about half the world’s population, whether they speak more than one language and/or dialect. Learning Italian will open your eyes to the way Italy sees and interprets the world an make the world seem just a little bit smaller. In general, it’s easier to get exposed to and appreciate new and different points of view. So you can join the world’s other multilinguals and understand them a bit better.
    4. Become a better person
      Learning a foreign language involves a healthy dose of personal growth. You will learn more about yourself and how you see the world, and how that may change in a new language. And don’t underestimate the personal growth that comes from being a beginning language learner: it’s not easy to express your very grown-up thoughts and feelings using the vocabulary of a toddler!
    5. Become a favorite with the locals
      If you know the local language, it will be a lot easier for you to mingle with people living in Italy. From the guy serving your morning espresso to the lady selling you a train ticket, to the fans sitting next you at a soccer game, you’ll be able to communicate much easier if you speak Italian. It will also be easier to meet friends from Milan and other parts of Italy. So use your language skills and be a social butterfly!
    6. Become an expert on art, music and food jargon
      Did you know that chiaroscuro literally means light and dark? Or that allegro means happy? What about the correct way to pronounce bruschetta (the “c” is hard, not like the English “ch” sound)? There are tons of Italian loanwords in English, lots of which relate to art – the Renaissance had a pretty big influence – music – Verdi, opera, etc. were also pretty important – and of course food – the whole world truly does love Italian cuisine. So as you learn Italian, you’ll also learn more about all this vocab that’s already found in English. And you can show off your skills to all your friends back home who don’t speak the language.
    7. Become a speaker of Dante’s language
      And Petrarch’s, and Manzoni’s, and Levi’s and Eco’s. Italian literature is full of great writers, and if you know the language, you can read them in the original. From “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita / mi ritrovai per una selva oscura” (the first line of Dante’s Inferno) to “Quel ramo del lago di Como…” (the opening line of Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi), you can get a better understanding of what these great writers have said, thus getting a better grasp of Italian culture and history.

These 7 reasons should be more than enough for you to get motivated… so, what are you waiting for? Check out a few of the schools offering Italian language courses in Milan or, if you’re a Bocconi student, get in touch with the Language Center for extracurricular classes. Buono studio!

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