If you want to, or have to, learn Italian, and so are evaluating Italian language schools in Italy, you’ll soon realise that there are many, many schools out there. And once you’ve looked at a few websites, they all begin to look identical.
So how can you choose between the numerous Italian language schools in Italy and be confident of avoiding a bad decision that you might regret?
Here’s a handy checklist of factors to help. It’s been compiled by teachers and language school owners with more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, and so will help you get beneath the glossy website photos and slick advertising copy to the things that will really make a difference to your experience!
Italian Language Schools in Italy Checklist
- Does the school offer courses which reflect your needs and preferences?
- Are the days and times of the courses convenient for you?
- Do the course start dates work for you?
- Are national holidays or other closure periods taken into account when calculating the course cost? How?
- Are the prices transparent? (Watch out for concealed, obligatory charges which will increase what may, at first, seem to be a bargain price!)
- Will the school organise accommodation for you? What options are available? Are there any extra charges?
- Are the teaching materials (course book, etc.) included in the price? Are they obligatory?
- Are the prices in line with other Italian language schools in the area?
- Is it possible to pay for a shorter period first, then extend your course if satisfied?
- Are you obliged to pay the whole course fee at the time of booking, or just a deposit?
- How would you need to pay? Limited options (i.e. only by bank transfer) may reflect underlying problems with the business..
- Is the website rich in information? Informative?
- Does the school seem well-equipped and welcoming? Would you be happy spending time there?
- Is the language school located centrally, or in an otherwise attractive location?
- Do staff answer your questions positively and fully?
- Are the classrooms spacious and suitably furnished?
- Does the school test students’ levels carefully to ensure that groups are coherent?
- Is it possible to do a trial lesson before you decide?
- Are the teachers qualified and experienced?
- Is the staff made up of mostly permanent teachers, or does the school rely on seasonal staff and/or freelancers?
- Is there a teaching manager or academic director? Someone to whom you could go if you had a problem?
- Who are the owners? What sort of attitude/experience do they have?
- Is the school a member of a national association (like ASILS, in Italy) which guarantees a minimum level of quality?
- Are there facilities/resources that you can use when you’re not in class (computers, a library, study materials, etc.)?
- Does the school organise a social program to allow you to socialise and make friends? Are there extra costs for this?
When choosing between Italian language schools in Italy, you should first aim to draw up a short list of possibilities. Then, it’s a good idea to ask around – perhaps you know people who have studied at the schools you are considering? Or could ask your Italian teacher, or in an online forum. Find out if anyone has had a particularly positive or negative experience, but don’t rely too much on the opinion of others..
If you are in Italy already, or are able to visit first, it’s an excellent idea to see some or all of the schools that interest you so you can form a first-hand impression of the school, and of the people behind it.
In the end, though, having done your research, you’ll need to make a final decision. If it’s still a toss up between two or more schools, trust your instincts!
And if in doubt, always sign up for a short course first rather than paying over the fee for months and months just to save a few extra euros. You can always extend your stay if you are happy with your choice (no school will ever refuse to extend your course, though there could be issues with accommodation).
In bocca al lupo! (“In the wolf’s mouth” = “Good luck” in Italy)
P.S. If you ARE evalutaing Italian language schools in Italy, don’t forget the 20% OFF offer from our sponsor school in Bologna, valid for all 2013 group Italian courses booked by 24th December 2012.