This article is about

Learn and speak Italian for a foreign student

If you want to learn and speak Italian, know that the best and fastest method is to attend a course in the country where this language is spoken. In the case of Italian, Florence is the best place because the Italian language was born here, and it is here that the best Italian is still spoken.

But how long does it take to learn Italian, and above all, how long does it take to speak Italian fluently?

These are questions that many Italian language learners ask us before enrolling in our Italian language courses. From experience and honesty, it is difficult to give them sincere and precise answers.
We will try to list what are the elements that determine how long it takes to be able to speak Italian.
It depends on the starting level of knowledge of the language and various elements: nationality, knowledge of other languages, cultural level, age, will, skills, motivation, patience, time spent studying, pleasure in learning a new language, from the frequency with which Italian is spoken with other people, the type of course and its duration.

Starting level

About one in five students who start a course in our school is completely beginner. Clearly, those who have already studied the Italian language, or those who already speak a little Italian, take less time to reach the goals they want or want to reach.


Some languages ​​are very different from Italian, others very similar.
For obvious reasons, Asian students (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc.) find it more difficult to learn Italian. This is normal due to the considerable differences in their languages ​​compared to Western languages, including Italian. The main difficulties are at the beginning and when they have to reach an advanced level. Most of our students have a level between elementary and intermediate.

Other difficulties, although to a lesser extent, are also encountered by Anglo-Saxon students (American, English, Australian, etc.). This can be explained by four main reasons:
– the ease of English grammar compared to Italian and other languages.
– very often Anglo-Saxon students do not learn their language with a grammatical method in school.
– English is the most widely spoken language in the world, and psychologically English speakers are less motivated to learn a new language.
– English is spoken by many people around the world, and therefore they are used to speaking their language with friends instead of trying, making mistakes and getting tired with Italian.

Other difficulties are encountered by Scandinavian students due to the difference in their languages ​​compared to Italian and the Romance languages.

Students who manage to get the fastest results are obviously Spanish and French due to the similarities of their languages with Italian, although learning very quickly they often continue to speak with their typical accent even when they have reached an advanced level. We ironically call it “itagnolo” or “itancese”.

In addition to Spaniards and French people, also German-speaking students, Eastern European students, and Russian students are quick learners. They have the grammar of their mother tongue more difficult than the Italian one and therefore are used to “hard work” for learning a new language.

Considering absolute beginners, so starting from zero, usually, but not always, French and Spanish people arrive at an advanced level (the highest one) after 4-5 months. Germans, Slavs, and Russians after 5-6 months. Anglo-Saxons after about 6-7 months. Asians after about 7-12 months. Obviously, there are many exceptions.

Knowledge of other languages

The gap is reduced if Asian students already speak English (or even better Spanish or French), or if the Anglo-Saxons already know Spanish or French.

Cultural level

The gap is reduced based on the cultural level, the type of education, and the type of subjects studied during the school year. A student with a university education degree who has studied foreign languages will certainly be faster in learning than a student with a low level of education who does not know other languages.


Young students have fewer difficulties because they have a fresher and more open mind to studies compared to an elder student, even if it is not always so. An elder student with a high cultural level used to reading frequently and having new experiences, or with a strong motivation, can learn faster and better than a younger student.

Will and skill

These are subjective and variable qualities for each person. The more willingness and skill you have, the greater the results will be.


A student who needs to learn Italian because he has to pass an Italian exam at university or who wants to work in Italy will achieve better and faster results than a student who does a course especially just to visit Florence or to do different experiences.
If you don’t have a real motivation, find it. Think of the richness of the Italian language in history, art, cuisine, music, architecture, literature, opera, fashion, design, cinema, craftsmanship, beauty, and culture in general.


We always have to think about how long each of us has spent learning our mother tongue as children. Learning a new language is not easy, but it can be fast and fun. It is normal that we have to try hard and be patient. In the beginning, there are surely difficulties but after a week or two the results will come, and everything will be easier, more fun, and more rewarding.

Time spent on studying

Clearly, the more after-school hours are spent on studying, the greater the results will be.

Pleasure in learning a new language

The pleasure in doing something is crucial, not only in learning Italian, it is essential in all things.

The frequency with which you speak Italian with other people

Talking to other people is very important. Putting yourself to the test is the best exercise to learn a new language. It is important not to be afraid of making mistakes. The mistake is often a cause of embarrassment and frustration, in reality, it must be an element of irony, fun, and reflection. Making mistakes is normal. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn.

Type of course and its duration

The more hours of lessons per day and more weeks of course are attended, the greater the results will be. A student who attends a part-time course of 2 hours a day will certainly achieve lower results than a student who attends an intensive course or a combined course with group lessons and individual lessons. The same goes for the duration.

Our statistics

We can say that the progress that all our students have at the end of every single week of the course, starting from the beginner level or a higher level, is evident. They are often surprised by how they manage to improve in such a short time.
For a beginner, a week can also be enough to understand and speak Italian in the most important situations. Clearly, it takes more time to learn to understand and speak Italian fluently. The more time you spend learning it, the greatest results will be in order to be able to speak Italian fluently.

On average, a beginner student who attends our classic course, the standard course made of 4 hours per day (2 hours of grammar and 2 hours of conversation), exceeds one of the 5 levels of knowledge (beginner, elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate, advanced ) every 4 weeks. Usually, a total beginner student reaches the highest level (advanced) after about 4-6 months. By advanced level, we mean an excellent grammatical construction, good pronunciation and a rich vocabulary. This is equivalent to having no conversation problems in any kind of situation.

In many cases, students easily reach an elementary or intermediate level but struggle to reach the advanced level, and this is completely normal, being perfect is difficult. But perfection is not essential. For many of our students, it is often sufficient to reach an intermediate level that still allows them to understand and speak Italian well.

We hope we have been useful and we hope you’ll decide to attend an Italian language course at our school. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are waiting for you.

Carlo Lipparini
director – Istituto Il David

Do you want to know more about our teaching method and our school organization?

Do you want to know why you should learn Italian in Florence?

ISTITUTO IL DAVID – Italian language school Florence