There are many ways you can learn Italian as a foreign language and later on become an Italian tutor.
From secondary school until postgraduate education, there decisions you can make which lead you towards a career as a languages teacher.
Studies show that a teacher’s passion for the discipline they teach is what attracts students to teaching.
Training to be a teacher isn’t always easy.
From primary school to higher education, as a budding teacher, there are a lot of hoops you will have to jump through before you’re qualified to teach in a school.
The road to teaching can seem to be long and winding, but your success is all down to your own hard work.
Teaching demands that you invest your time as well as your passion to make sure that your pupils get the most out of your knowledge and fluency in the romance language that is Italian.
It is important that you get used to planning in advance and not leaving things until the very last minute before you start your first tutor jobs.
You can practice your time-management skills while you’re still at secondary school or sixth form, as these will serve you for the rest of your life, even if you choose not to become a teacher.
So, which subjects should you study at school if you’re looking to become an Italian teacher?
This is a completely normal question to ask yourself from around the age of 15 when you start thinking about your career options.
To reach your goal and start teaching your students Italian as a completely new language with insights into how Italian grammar, verb conjugation, Italian vocabulary including nouns and adjectives work, you’ll have to be qualified.
To teach in a UK school you’ll undoubtedly need to earn your Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
The PGCE is a qualification which prepares you for life in the classroom as a leader and includes QTS (qualified teacher status), meaning you’re fit to work as a teacher in state schools in the UK.
Learning Italian at Primary School
How young were you when you realised you wanted to be an Italian tutor?
Learning about Italy and its rich history in primary school with the story of the Romans and their empire has inspired many to discover the language and culture from an early age.
Unfortunately, in primary school, Italian is rarely offered as a second language, as students are pushed to learn French, learn German or learn Spanish.
However, it’s a well-known fact that language acquisition ability is at its peak before the age of 11, and so, schools ought to be offering as many languages as they can.
Even having taster sessions for foreign languages could inspire some pupils to take them up in later life, but sadly, in state schools, the resources just aren’t available.
Although the necessity for learning a language as part of formal education is being promoted, few educational establishments offer Italian.
Private schools are more open to teaching Italian as an extra-curricular activity, if not as part of their curriculum.
These schools have more money to play with than those run by the government, however, sadly, not everyone has the opportunity to receive a private education.
To make up for the lack of diversity in language education in state schools, some parents opt for private Italian tuition outside of school hours.
With a private tutor, students can receive one to one teaching that is tailored to their needs as a learner.
There are also many language-learning workbooks on the market to complement children’s education in speaking Italian.
Working on their language skills outside of their Italian lessons can help students with their Italian vocabulary as well as their reading comprehension without needing their tutor.
Learning How to Speak Italian at Secondary School
Maybe your desire to become an Italian teacher became apparent later on in life.
Choosing your GCSEs is a pivotal time in any student’s life, as this is the point at which you begin narrowing down your education and career options.
When the time comes to choose which subjects to study at GCSE level, it is generally advised that you take at least one language as part of the English baccalaureate.
As a budding languages teacher, it can be useful to study a least two foreign languages, as this will make you stand out as a candidate in job applications.
Having more than one foreign language can also help to keep your options open later on in life.
For example, if you start out as an Italian teacher and your school needs another Spanish teacher, you could add some variety to your job and teache both languages!
If you choose to study a foreign language at secondary school, it’s highly likely that you’ll have an opportunity to go abroad to experience immersion in the culture of the language you’re learning.
So, whether you’re lucky enough to get a trip to Italy with your school or you participate in a language exchange programme, experiencing Italian culture first-hand may help you confirm your desire to teach the Italian language.
Language exchanges are all about giving you an opportunity to ditch the phrasebook and put your conversational Italian skills into practice with native speakers in the real world and offer a change to simply conjugating verbs and practising spellings.
After some time using your Italian speaking and listening skills in a native environment, you'll notice a vast improvement in your language proficiency. Even if you begin by speaking basic Italian, you may pick up some new words and phrases as well as common expressions, and forcing yourself to speak Italian may help you with conjugating Italian verbs and Italian pronunciation.
Practicing your spoken Italian outside of your Italian classes is a whole new learning experience which can offer a completely different perspective on Italian language courses.
Getting to study Italian and find out about Italy and its history can bring the language to life, especially for those who aren’t so keen to begin with.
Language exchanges are usually arranged by schools themselves, and pair those who speak English as a native language with Italian students so that they can learn from each other as each student hosts the other in their home country.
These students are usually the same age, and when in Italy, British students may have the opportunity to attend some of their partner’s classes.
Quite often, European students will follow very similar course content in school, meaning that during their visit to Italy, British students can experience how their lessons would sound in Italian.
Secondary school is a key point in every student’s life, where they begin thinking about their future career, so having experience can only be advantageous.
Studying Italian at University
Once your GCSEs are over and your A level years are coming to an end, the time comes to start thinking about further education at a university.
Studying Italian at university is an essential if you aim to teach it as a foreign language in a school.
When it comes to your university studies, you have many options.
Some institutions may offer single honours Italian courses, where you study the history and literature of Italy, and perhaps even Italian cinema whilst you continue your language study.
It’s more common for students to choose a joint honours degree when it comes to studying a language. This means that their classes are split between two subjects.
For example, someone could do history and French, or English literature and Italian.
As long as Italian features as part of your degree title, you will be appropriately qualified as a languages graduate.
It’s important that you look at the course content for each of the universities you consider. This is because there are so many aspects to studying the Italian language and culture.
Some courses will focus almost entirely on literature, whereas others will focus more on the applications of the Italian language, and you may be asked to translate Italian texts more often than on other courses.
Universities may also have module options which are not specific to students of Italian, but which are still relevant.
This could include European cinema, intercultural relations or European history.
The type of Italian course you choose to study is ultimately down to your interests and the type of study you think would give you the most help in a teaching career.
Regardless of the path you choose, it is a good idea to get as much teaching experience as you can before you commit to teacher training.
A good solution to this is becoming a private tutor and teaching Italian through online teaching jobs or in person.
There are all kinds of people in every nook and cranny in the UK who want to learn a new language, and you might be able to give them what they’re after!
Becoming a tutor does not require any formal qualifications – as long as you and your client think you’re up to the job, you can teach start teaching whenever you like.
Private tutoring jobs are just a great way to earn some extra money while you study, it can also provide a means of developing your teaching style and learning how to adapt to the needs of your students as they progress.
Being self-employed as a one to one Italian tutor will help you learn valuable life skills such as organisation and time management whilst you actively use your language to help others learn to speak Italian.
If you’re unsure about where to go after you graduate, tutoring as a university student can help you decide if being a teacher is a potential career route for you.
No matter what you end up doing after university, even if you decide not to teach, speaking Italian fluently is an asset which you can use either in your profession or to continue tutoring in the future.