Back to (Italian) class

©lapresse archivio storico spettacolo cinema Roma anno 1953 Gregory Peck e Audrey Hepburn nella foto: l'attore Gregory Peck in vespa con la collega Audrey Hepburn durante una scena del film "Vacanze romane"

by Vittoria Zorfini

Italian language is charming, and increasingly more people are interested in speaking it. In Montreal, there are a wide range of options available to those interested in learning. Tania Zampini’s Italian course for families: 3E Education, experience, Exchange, is one of them.

About Tania Zampini

Until recently, Tania had been working in Florence. When her family got bigger she decided it was time to return to her hometown. She has been teaching Italian since 2006, as well as English and French. She also taught in the United States.

The project

“The center for Italian culture was born on September 22nd just last month,” says Tania. “Two years ago we started [with her husband] organizing summer schools for those who were interested in visiting Italy and learning the language.” Tania then gave birth to her first child and that is what sparked the idea of creating a course that could be inclusive for the whole family. “Many are Italians, but not all. There are also several Anglophones and Francophones who have children and want to learn Italian with their kids.”

Off to the movies!

Mondays are dedicated to Italian cinema. Movies have subtitles in both French and English and are suited for the whole family. There are also more dynamic events: parents can cook Italian meals – and eventually eat – alongside their kids or attend the ‘aperitivo’ night – and chat with other students and have a good glass of wine.

What are the most challenging words to learn?

Tania has no doubt that gli, ch and gn are the most difficult sounds to reproduce for those learning the language for the first time. Take the word gnocchi for example, which can easily become gunoshi or noshi. However, Tania says not to get discouraged. Listening and practice can eventually yield the desired sound.

The most common mistakes

In Italian the emphasis on gender can make a big difference in grammatical accuracy. “For those who are just starting learning Italian identifying feminine and masculine can be difficult,” says Tania. “In English is not a problem”. Another challenge for beginners is finding out that the word panini when singular becomes panino. Those who live outside Italy will still keep ordering ONE panini.

Any tips when learning Italian?

“A suggestion that I always give to my students is that a language needs to be experienced. People should not think that one hour a week is a sufficient time to master a language. One needs to cultivate languages little by little through movies, Italian-language conversations when meeting a colleague, even for just a few minutes, but consistently, every day.”