Italy is some 1,900 kilometers away from the city of Southampton in England. It is that far.
Why then, are more and more Southampton residents trying to learn the Italian language?
A quick search on the world wide web for Italian language tutors and Italian classes in Southampton would yield numerous results, confirming that there is indeed, a demand for them. I have been in the field for a few years now. Though initially surprised, even baffled by it, I now understand why a lot of Southampton locals wish to participate in my Italian classes.
Why my students join Italian classes in Southampton?
1) It is fun
Most of my students say they join just for the heck, and also for the fun of it. They say it is a novel idea to try, so they did. They wanted to while away their time, but was tired of the usual party route, so they decided to try something new. Learning Italian is like traveling, they say. Speaking a language different from your own gives you the feeling of being transported to the origin of the language. It educates you with its culture and traditions.
2) It challenges their cognitive skills
Some of them say they want to challenge themselves intellectually. With the monotony of their 9-5 jobs or their retirement, they can sometimes get bored, and feel that their brains are stagnating for doing the same stuff over and over again. So they take the language tutorial to awaken their brains. Cognitively, learning a new language exercises the brain and makes it more recharged and receptive. It also allows you to think better and become more focused.
3) It allows them to meet new people
Also, most of the students are eager to meet people outside of their circle. Joining my class helped them meet other people with same kinds of interests as them. It becomes a cultural clique, a meeting of like-minded minds who loves exploring different cultures. This makes them better individuals because it allows them to embrace traditions from different ethnicity.
4) It gives them self-confidence
There are also those who joined because they want to boost their confidence. Some of them are foodies, who want to fully understand their favourite food from the Italian restaurant around the corner. Some are men, who want to impress the woman they are courting by saying, “Sei Bellissima” (You are beautiful). Some of them use the language lessons as a test of courage in trying to learn something new. They eventually went on to try new things, like learning how to act, how to hike, and other diverse activities. They say that joining the class gave them the confirmation, that there is really no age limit for the acquisition of knowledge.
5) It helps them with technical terms
Some of my students were music majors. They were having a hard time with their musical terms. They were confusing their allegro with their allegretto, andante with andantino, and decided to learn Italian to be more prepared with their musical pieces. I can say they finished the course and went on to have musical performances that had people shouting, “Bravo! Bravo!”
6) It makes them better equipped for work
A number of my students enrolled for a more concrete reason. They were applying for a job in Italy, and learning the language is one of the requirements to get accepted. On the other side of the coin, there was one who enrolled because his boss in Southampton is Italian and he wants to better understand him.
7) It makes you prepared for travel
Italy being a country that puts premium in protecting their identity, although English is also spoken by some, the most efficient way in getting around is still by speaking the language the way locals do. This is also the reason of my jet-setter students. They are set to go on a holiday to Italy and they want to be better prepared. It has been their tradition to learn the language of the country they are visiting to lessen their worries about getting lost in translation.
8) It connects them to their roots
Another reason, which I was pleasantly surprised to know about, is that there quite a number of the students who felt the need to connect to their cultural roots. They say that learning the Italian language is their way of connecting to that part of their core, and celebrate their Italian heritage. Also, since most of them are children of Italian migrants, they have a lot of relatives still living in Italy. They still have uncles and aunts, or grandparents residing there. Learning the language make them communicate with their relatives better. My students say their relatives have a higher sense of affinity to them when they speak in Italian.
9) It strengthens your bond with the family
There are students, wives and husbands whose spouses are Italian. As they build their families, their children learn the Italian language from their mother/father and so my students have to keep up.
10) It allows them to be bilingual/multilingual
Some of the students joined the class because it was “in”. Bilingualism is a fast growing trend in Europe. They enrolled because they do not want to be left behind by their peers who speak two, sometimes three or four languages.
11) They love the language.
Then there is a handful who wish to learn Italian because they are in love with the language. They are also, usually the ones who had courses in French and Spanish, and they have this immense love for the Romance languages.
Do you wish to learn Italian? What are your reasons? Leave a comment below – I would love to hear from you!