How Long Will it Take me to Learn Italian? Experts Speaking

Key Takeaways

Learn how long it takes to master Italian, explore effective learning methods, and discover tips to overcome common language learning challenges.

  • Achieving basic proficiency in Italian (A2 level) typically requires around 200-300 hours of study.
  • Methods like total immersion and 1-to-1 lessons can significantly speed up the learning process.
  • Factors such as age, prior language experience, and time commitment greatly influence learning speed.
  • Engaging with native speakers and using technology can enhance your learning experience.
  • Overcome challenges like regional dialects and speaking anxiety through exposure and practice.

Quick facts

Why is learning a new language challenging?

It requires time commitment, understanding cultural nuances, cognitive plasticity, and constant motivation, especially when progress slows down.

What is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages?

It structures language proficiency into six levels, ensuring a uniform standard for assessing language skills in different contexts.

How many hours are typically needed to learn Italian?

It varies but the estimated range is from 100 hours for basic proficiency to 1200 hours for advanced fluency according to CEFR guidelines.

How does immersion influence language learning?

Total immersion facilitates swift language acquisition by exposing you to the language in various contexts, enhancing cultural understanding.

What are the benefits of 1-to-1 Italian lessons?

They provide personalized guidance, adapt to your schedule, and can significantly speed up the learning process.

What factors influence the time it takes to learn Italian?

Factors include age, prior experience with languages, time commitment, motivation, and social interactions with native speakers.

Is Italian considered an easy language to learn?

Yes, especially for English speakers, due to the shared Latin roots and less complicated grammar rules compared to other languages.

What are cognates and how do they help in language learning?

Cognates are words with similar counterparts in different languages. They make learning Italian easier for speakers of languages with similar roots.

What strategies can help overcome the challenge of understanding regional dialects?

Exposure to regional media, travel and immersion, and language exchange with native speakers from various regions can be effective.

How can speaking anxiety be managed in language learning?

Starting small, attending language meetups, and getting professional help can provide a safe space for practice and boost confidence.

Audio images

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Studiare ogni giorno è fondamentale per imparare una nuova lingua.
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Imparare una nuova lingua richiede pazienza e dedizione.
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La pratica quotidiana è essenziale per imparare l'italiano.

Vocab

tempo
imparare
lingua
esperto
parlare
ascoltare
pratica
lezione
corso
vocabolario
grammatica
esercizio
pronuncia
fluente
studiare
insegnante
livello
comprensione
conversazione
progresso

Sentences

Quanto tempo ci vuole per imparare l'italiano?

How long does it take to learn Italian?

Dipende dal tuo impegno e dalla frequenza delle lezioni.

It depends on your commitment and the frequency of the lessons.

Per alcuni, ci vogliono solo pochi mesi.

For some, it takes only a few months.

Altri potrebbero impiegare anni per diventare fluenti.

Others might take years to become fluent.

La pratica quotidiana è fondamentale per fare progressi.

Daily practice is essential to make progress.

My Thoughts

How Long Does it Take to Learn Italian?

Why is Learning a new Language Hard?

Learning a new language can be a challenging process due to several key factors:

  1. It requires time commitment and consistent practice, which often leads learners to reshape their daily routines to include language study and practice.
  2. It involves not only memorizing vocabulary and grammar but also understanding cultural nuances and contexts that differ from the learner’s native language, adding complexity.
  3. Cognitive challenges can play a significant role. Getting older, the brain’s plasticity decreases, making it generally more difficult to absorb and retain new language structures.
  4. Motivation can fluctuate, particularly when progress slows down due to the intricate grammatical rules that some languages have.

Given these reasons, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to “How long does it take to learn a language?”. It depends on different factors, as I will explain in the following sections.

Different Levels of Competence

Regardless of the type of language you are aiming to learn, it is very important to establish the purpose of your language learning path.

This means: what level of competence do you want to reach?

Do you only need basic Italian for travel? Do you want to speak Italian and have meaningful conversations with native speakers? Or do you want to be able to watch the news and read novels?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) structures language proficiency in six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. These levels can be categorized into three broader groups:

  1. Basic User (levels A1 and A2), which focuses on basic language skills necessary for simple communication.
  2. Independent User (levels B1 and B2), where learners can handle complex language in familiar contexts and express opinions.
  3. Proficient User (levels C1 and C2), indicating advanced language abilities that allow for fluent and spontaneous communication.

Each level describes what a learner at that level is capable of in terms of speaking, writing, listening, and reading.

This structure ensures a uniform standard for learning and assessing language skills in different contexts and is adaptable to different languages, including Italian.

How long does it take to learn Italian? Different stages of proficiency

How Many Hours Do I Need to Learn Italian?

I want to stress it again: Learning Italian takes time and consistency. In my opinion, half an hour a day is more effective than 5 hours crammed on a Sunday afternoon.

In general, there is no specific amount of time one needs to achieve a level, because of the reasons I explained in the previous paragraph.

However, there are some trends in language learning paths, which can be resumed in the table below.

CEFR level Number of hours of instruction
Zero to A1 100-150 hours
A1 to A2 100-150 hours

From Zero:
200-300 hours

A2 to B1 100-200 hours

From A1:
300-500 hours

B1 to B2 150-200 hours

From Zero:
500-700 hours

B2 to C1 200-250 hours

From Zero:
700-950 hours

C1 to C2 200-250 hours

From Zero:
900-1200 hours

On a typical “full-time” Italian course, you will study for 4 hours each morning, so that’s 20 hours a week. So you would need between four and six weeks to complete every level.

Let’s see a concrete example: you want to move to Italy and start a new life.

Among the requirements to obtain a permanent residency in Italy, you must pass an Italian language test which proves that you have at least a proficiency level of A2.

This means that, if you never studied Italian before, it will take you around 3 months of full-time study!

The CEFR uses the “Guided Learning Hours” framework to measure the amount of classroom time total needed to reach a B2 (high intermediate) level.

It assumes that for every one hour of classroom time, learners will spend two hours of independent study time.

Of course, this is a general estimation of what usually works based on statistics. But you can personalize your study path.

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Studiare ogni giorno è fondamentale per imparare una nuova lingua.

Popular Methods for Learning Italian (Time Span Included)

Why I Recommend These Methods

For me, a study method is good if you’re prompted to speak. So, the methods I recommend below all involve speaking.

Here I will list some of the most popular methods for learning Italian, with my personal thoughts and the amount of time it’s needed to reach an intermediate level of Italian.

Remember, there is no best way to learn Italian, but I recommend consistency and good materials in the first place!

Total Immersion

The most intense option for learning Italian with the best and quickest results. Total immersion typically means moving to Italy or taking part in an immersion language learning program.

It’s neither easy nor cheap, but if you work hard, you’re guaranteed to learn Italian fast. And for me, this is the funniest method to learn a foreign language!

Total, active immersion is intended for 8 hours per day, for a total of 3 months.

Intensive Group Course at Home

This option forces you to include Italian in your everyday life, essential to learn Italian quickly. You’ll also be working with trained educators who can help you notice and overcome language obstacles.

If you are a diligent and organized person, this option might work for you. I chose it and liked it, so I recommend you try it!

One year of Italian language learning in school is usually organized in 4 hours per week + 2 hours of homework + 2 hours of independent practice, distributed over 12 weeks for 2 semesters.

Standard Group Course at Home

This option takes more time but it is also one of the more affordable ones and, of course, it includes classroom hours and homework each week.

It is the perfect option for working people: it allows you to have constant exposure to Italian but it doesn’t require daily hours of effort.

A standard course might be composed of a 3-hour Italian course for 8 weeks, plus independent practice of about 2 hours per week. If you take 3 courses per year, it will take you between 4 and 6 years to reach an intermediate level.

1-to-1 Lessons

You can learn much faster with individual lessons, but it depends on how many hours per week you decide to dedicate to studying Italian: with three 60-minute lessons per week, you might learn Italian in 1 or 2 years.

This method is one of the most expensive, but it is great for people with busy schedules and specific needs. I have been teaching 1-to-1 Italian classes for more than 4 years now, and I can really see my students’ progress.

Self-study

Many people succeed at learning Italian through self-study methods, but the duration of this learning journey depends completely on you.

This is usually the cheapest way to learn, but without support and motivation from a teacher or classmates, it might be challenging.

If you choose this method, remember to keep a positive attitude and use high-quality resources only!

With a dedicated independent study of 1 hour per day, you will achieve an intermediate level of Italian in approximately 2 years.

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Imparare una nuova lingua richiede pazienza e dedizione.

Factors Influencing Italian Language Learning

The time it takes to learn Italian varies based on several key factors. For me, there are 5 main aspects to take into account when considering learning Italian.

  1. Age: children learn new languages faster than adults, as their brains are more plastic. This skill decreases with age, making it crucial for adults to overcome language transfer, which interferes with learning a new language.
  2. Prior experience with languages: particularly Romance languages like Spanish or French, can significantly make learning easier, given the familiarity with similar structures and vocabulary.
  3. Time commitment: a sufficient amount of time studying Italian is essential for steady progress. The more time invested in structured study and practical application, the quicker you will advance.
  4. Motivation: a strong desire to learn, a positive attitude toward the learning process, and a self-established deadline enhance the ability to absorb and retain new information.
  5. Social interactions: having an Italian-speaking network provides invaluable practice opportunities that can improve your skills. Engaging regularly with native speakers can dramatically increase linguistic competence and confidence.

In essence, the duration required to learn Italian to an intermediate or advanced level depends on a combination of age, linguistic background, time investment, motivational levels, and social exposure.

Whether you are learning for personal satisfaction or professional needs, integrating these factors will ensure a more efficient and enjoyable learning experience.

🔊
La pratica quotidiana è essenziale per imparare l'italiano.

Is Italian an Easy Language?

What Makes a Language Easy to Learn?

It is hard to define whether a language is easy or not. As I mentioned before, the ease with which you learn a foreign language depends on several factors.

In general, Italian is considered a relatively easy language to learn, especially for English speakers. For this reason, it is a popular choice when selecting a foreign language to study, contributing to its ranking among the most widely spoken languages in the world!

In fact, guess what?

Italian contains a lot of words that have similar counterparts in English, and while Italian can have some annoying grammar rules, it’s generally less complicated than other languages like Polish or German.

Obviously, learning a language that is similar to your native language can save you time when learning the alphabet, the pronunciation, the grammar, and the vocabulary.

Actually, I am sure you already know some Italian words even before you even start studying the language!

This is because, on the one hand, there are many Italian words that are now internationally known. On the other hand, many of these words have Latin or Greek roots, which are shared by other languages as well.

If I intrigued you with this tiny historical parenthesis, you might want to know more about the history of the Italian language!

These words are known as cognates and make learning Italian much easier for people who speak a language with similar roots (like English, French, and Spanish).

Italian Words That You Know for Sure!

Here you are with a short but exhaustive list of Italian cognate words that you surely know already.

Italian English Spanish French German
amico friend amigo ami Freund
intelligente intelligent inteligente intelligent intelligent
arte art arte art Kunst
musica music música musique Musik
famiglia family familia famille Familie
università university universidad université Universität
attenzione attention atención attention Aufmerksamkeit
ospedale hospital hospital hôpital Krankenhaus
storia history historia histoire Geschichte
natura nature naturaleza nature Natur

How many of these words did you know already?

Useful Tools for Your Italian Learning Path

There are several free resources you can make use of to have an idea about how to approach Italian learning and how long the studying process will take you.

  • Certifications and Qualifications

If you are interested in enhancing your career opportunities or facilitating your education in Italy, my advice is that you check information about Italian language certifications, such as CILS or CELI.

These certifications are crucial for those aiming to formally validate their Italian proficiency.

  • The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Language Difficulty Rankings

The FSI ranks languages based on their difficulty for native English speakers. It also includes an estimated number of hours required to reach general professional proficiency.

This can be very useful for learners planning their study schedule and looking for a broad overview of the commitment they need.

  • Technological Aids in Learning

The use of technology, such as language learning apps or AI tutors, can enhance the language learning experience. These tools provide personalized learning experiences that adapt to individual learning paces, aid in pronunciation, and simulate real-life conversations.

Do you Want to Speed up Your Learning Process?

You don’t need to travel to Italy to immerse yourself in Italian culture. You just need to surround yourself with Italian as much as possible!

Watching Italian movies, listening to Italian songs, and participating in virtual museum tours can provide deep cultural insights and enhance language learning.

Immersion can significantly accelerate language acquisition by continuously exposing you to the language in various contexts.

Learning Environments

You can also explore the advantages and disadvantages of learning Italian in formal academic settings versus informal settings.

Besides standard in-person language courses, you might enjoy conversation clubs or informal online classes.

Active Speaking Practice

Engage in regular conversations with native speakers. This could be through language exchange platforms, tutoring sessions, or speaking with friends who are fluent.

Speaking practice helps solidify your knowledge and increases your comfort with the language.

Feedback and Correction

Regularly get feedback on your language use. This could be from teachers, native speakers, or through interactive language apps. Understanding and correcting your mistakes is crucial for improvement.

Learning Challenges and Overcoming Them

Free Guide
How to Learn Languages Fast

Learning Italian, like any language, comes with quite some challenges, especially when you have to deal with regional dialects.

For me, there are two common obstacles that most learners face along their Italian learning path. But do not worry! I will also provide you with strategies to tackle them effectively.

Understanding Regional Dialects

Italian is rich with dialects and regional variations in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, which can be confusing for learners used to standard Italian.

Strategies:

  • Exposure to Regional Media

One of the best ways to get used to regional dialects is through the media. Listen to regional music, and watch local TV shows, movies, and news broadcasts. Platforms like YouTube or local Italian streaming services can be invaluable.

  • Travel and Immersion

If possible, spending time in different Italian regions is a great way to immerse yourself in specific dialects. This real-life exposure is the best option for learning the nuances of regional speech.

  • Language Exchange

Engage with native speakers from various regions through language exchange platforms. This can help you hear and practice different dialects in a conversational setting.

Speaking Anxiety

Many learners feel nervous about speaking, fearing mistakes or not being understood. This anxiety can reduce opportunities to practice and improve.

Strategies:

  • Start Small

Begin by practicing speaking in safe, low-pressure environments. For instance, you could be speaking to yourself in the mirror or recording voice notes on your phone.

I know it sounds crazy, but trust me: it works! I speak Russian to myself any time I can, but I make sure I am alone when I do it!

  • Language Meetups

Attend language meetups where you can practice Italian in a friendly and supportive environment.

  • Professional Help

Consider booking a few sessions with a professional tutor who specializes in teaching Italian. They can provide a safe space to practice and give constructive feedback to build your confidence.

YouTube video player

It’s up to you!

As I said already, the duration it takes to learn Italian depends on a complex combination of factors including your background, learning environment, and personal dedication.

Whether you immerse yourself in the language through technology, structured classes, or direct interaction with speakers, each method has its benefits and challenges.

With the right approach, learning Italian can be a rewarding journey that not only enhances your communication skills but also deepens your appreciation of one of the world’s richest cultural heritage.

Let me leave you here my final top three tips for learning Italian:

  • Be patient and persistent: language learning is a gradual process. Acknowledge your progress, even if it’s slow, and keep practicing regularly.
  • Set realistic goals: do not aim for perfection, but focus on incremental improvements. Celebrate small victories to keep yourself motivated.
  • Use technology: make good use of apps that promote speaking and listening. Try our audio lessons, which focus on speaking and help you discover grammar patterns and retain the vocabulary you are exposed to.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

FAQs

Is it difficult to learn Italy?

Italian is considered a 'tier one' language, which means that it's one of the easiest languages for a native English speaker to learn.

Can I learn Italian in 1 year?

Individual lessons can significantly accelerate your Italian learning journey. If you commit to three one-hour lessons weekly, you could potentially grasp Italian within one to two years.

Italian word of the day
aziende
Example
Dalla crisi, molte aziende hanno chiuso.
Because of the financial crisis, many companies shut down.
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