It appears that in the last year, Italian became more and more popular among the people of Cork and the number of beginners has increased exponentially (in the school where I teach). So much so that the Beginners course we started at the end of January at the College of Commerce was fully booked with many people left on the waiting list (do not worry, I will contact you soon for the next one!). Are you wondering why? Some of the reasons are obvious, but some are quite a surprise…
I have always asked my students why they want to learn Italian, so that I can make my lessons more appealing to them by leveraging their own motivations and help them to achieve their goals with extra work. I have got a rainbow of answers… one for everyone in the audience.
As you can guess, many people become Italian students because they love Italy; they love the country with its fascinating history, art, food, sea, mountains, countryside, towns, villages, fashion, people and so on and on and on. They want to be able to speak and understand more about the country they love. This is a wonderful reason and it doesn’t put them under pressure. They appreciate their improvement and they can get an immediate benefit during their next holiday which is a great motivation.
You might have heard that things in Italy are not going very well… we say that ‘l’Italia sta andando a rotoli’ (Italy is going down the tube)… therefore the number of Italians who are coming to Cork looking for new opportunities is also increasing. Believe it or not, many people in Cork take up Italian because they have Italian friends and/or Italian partners (boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives) and they want to learn their language and know more about their beautiful country. Therefore, as the number of Italian people has increased, the number of people who want to learn Italian has also risen. Are you surprised? I was!
The number of Spanish students has also increased… Italian and Spanish are very similar. I went to Spain a couple of times and I could get by with my Italian to place orders or to have simple conversations. Therefore, Spanish students have an easier start due to the closeness of the two languages. Things become more complex with the Italian grammar, though. An Italian friend of mine has been studying Spanish for years and she is still fighting against the use of prepositions…
A few students have to learn Italian for work. They usually already have a second language and it is easier for them to learn Italian as they have developed a language awareness. Having said that, any student can definitely achieve good results and put Italian on their cv with a bit of work.
Among my students, I have had singers (teachers and students), men and women with Italian origins, football fans, grammar lovers, people who want to move to Italy and those who have part of their families already living there and want to be able to communicate with their grandchildren… one for everyone in the audience… I told you so!
This is not a scientific treatise, but only a rough estimation I worked out by adding up the answers I have had from my students over a number of years.
Let me know your reasons!