Teaching Italian as a foreign language is always challenging!

When you start teaching Italian as a foreign language in Italy you realise that the same job can be very different depending on the type of students you have: each target requires a specific preparation and a thorough knowledge of the student’s profile.

This is why normally teachers specialise in a single target depending on their preference and keep working with it: even though the basic knowledge is the same, teaching children or adults differs quite a lot!

So let’s see the most common student’s profiles!

Children and teenagers.

This group includes students who start learning Italian in different contexts: for example, those who travel to Italy for a study holiday or those who study in International schools in Italy. On top of these groups, there are also teenagers coming from all over the world who live an intercultural experience in Italy through the “Programma Intercultura” (intercultural Programme): they live in Italy for a year with a local family and regularly attend school.

Children and teenager learn languages very quickly, however their motivation might be low: this is the biggest challenge for teachers who choose this profile!

University students.

Again, this is quite a broad group, as it consists of Erasmus students, American students who take part in the “Italian Study Abroad” programme and Chinese students who join the “Marco Polo” programme. They spend a period of time in Italy and have the need to learn Italian in order to understand lessons and, if possible, do exams in Italian.

Difficulties are different depending on their mother tongue, culture of origin and motivation: for example, Chinese students normally have intensive language programmes to be gradually introduced to the Italian language and culture.

Seminarists and catholic priests.

This group is made of young adults who learn Italian because they want to continue studying theology in Italy or to start serving a parish in Italy. In the first case they live in Italy for a long time, therefore they are extremely exposed to the language and do exams in Italian.

teaching Italian as a foreign language with different student's profiles

Young adults and adults.

This another mixed group which includes people with very different motivations. For example, people who spend a period of time in Italy learning Italian for cultural or personal interest but also immigrants who start a temporary job in Italy or have a longer term project to live and work there.

Teachers must have a specific preparation to face each of these types of students, which means knowing their goals, problems and cultural issues.

Retired adults.

Normally these students buy a property and move to Italy because they want to enjoy the nice weather, good food and stunning landscapes. They need to learn the basics, just to manage their daily routine and make new friends!

They are very interested in tours, cultural topics, food and history: all the reasons why they decided to start a new life in Italy!


In this group we find people who move to Italy because of their job, for example because they start working in the Italian branch of a multinational company. Most of the time, they can speak other languages at work, but they need to study Italian to live in Italy and improve their social life.


Foreigners in prison are normally offered Italian lessons to learn the language and be able to communicate with others. Also, studying the language might be an important goal for them while they are in prison and a strong motivation.


Which profile would you like to teach and why?


DITALS Newsletter