Italian Language Program

Our program:

The Italian language program is designed to be engaging, student friendly, and open to all students at Pitt. We aim to fit your needs. Students at Pitt study Italian for a wide variety of reasons: a desire to speak a new language, an interest in Italian culture, reaching a professional objective, fulfilling a requirement, wishing to study or work abroad, curiosity about one’s family or heritage, and more. Whatever your reasons, we will help you achieve your goals. We aim to do this in three key ways:


  1. Using innovative teaching and learning methods. Students in our classroom are exposed to Italian as much as possible. Our classes are small (with a maximum of 19 students), and all of our courses are taught in Italian (don’t worry – we will help you understand everything that happens in the classroom!)  In our classes, students participate in activities and games; and engage in practice both in class and online. We use a multi-faceted system that will help you keep track of your progress, so you never feel behind and can continue to review as you acquire new vocabulary and grammar.
  2. Open-access online materials that are free. There are no textbooks for our language classes, which save students over $150! We believe that education should be open to all students, regardless of whether they can afford a textbook. All of our learning materials are on Courseweb (also called Blackboard) and include a PDF grammar manual, online grammar and vocabulary exercises, links to resources (including games, videos, and music) and more.
  3. Flexible options that can fit your schedule. Our 4-credit classes now meet only three days per week (MWF for 50 minutes per lesson). The fourth credit is dedicated to online work, so that you can practice your Italian outside of the classroom. We use a variety of apps and websites (Extempore, Quizlet, Socrative) that help you develop your written and spoken Italian at your own pace. We also offer ITAL 0101 and 0102 during the summer, which is a great way to take advantage of smaller class sizes and a more personalized experience. We also offer classes of all levels abroad in Italy, during our semester-long programs (Pitt in Florence) and during the summer (Pitt in Rome, Pitt in Genoa).


Our courses:


ITAL 0101: Elementary Italian I (Here and Now). In this class, students spend the first half of the semester learning the basics of the Italian language by describing their everyday lives (their courses, schedules, university life, etc.) The second half of the semester focuses on everyday life in Italy. We learn about Italian regions and cities, where and how Italians live, regional Italian cuisine and more, while at the same time practicing the building blocks of the language. There are no prerequisites for this class.


ITAL 0102: Elementary Italian II (There and Then). In this class, students learn about some of the main aspects of Italian society and industry: fashion and design, holidays and cultural traditions, the travel industry, and Italian contemporary cinema. At the same time, they also learn how to describe and narrate past events and talk about future events (hence the subtitle of "There and Then"). Students also practice and review previously-learned everyday grammar and vocabulary throughout the course. Prerequisite: Successful completion of ITAL 0101 (with a B-) or the equivalent (as determined by Italian faculty).


ITAL 0103: Intermediate Italian I (What If?). In this class students learn about a variety of cultural topics (which may include art history, environmental issues, current and historical immigration and other societal issues), while at the same time developing the linguistic skills needed to express opinions, talk at length about a variety of topics, hypothesize, and so on. By the end of this class, students should be at the intermediate level, which means that they can converse on a wide variety of topics, despite the minor errors common to those speaking Italian as a foreign language. This course will prepare you for a minor or major in Italian, which are described. Prerequisite: Successful completion of ITAL 0102 (with a B-) or the equivalent (as determined by Italian faculty).


Next steps:

After you complete Italian 0103, you can take any of the following courses. See our page for more details. 


ITAL 0113: Modern and Contemporary Culture.  


ITAL 0115: Performing Italian. This course develops the communicative competencies of students through the incorporation of drama pedagogy into the study of important traditions of Italian theatre. It guides students in an exploration of Italy’s rich performing art tradition (from Opera and Commedia dell’Arte to contemporary song writing and film) while involving them in activities of oral interpretation of literature and creative writing exercises requiring in turn close reading and critical analysis. Together with ITAL 0113 (Modern and Contemporary Culture) and ITAL 0117 (Italies), Performing Italian is required of all Italian Lang & Lit and Italian Studies majors, and aims to develop Intermediate-low to Intermediate-high functions in students’ comprehension and production, through a multi-literacies and -competencies approach. The course is conducted entirely in Italian.


ITAL 0117: Italies. This second-year course consists of three main parts: Part I introduces students to the contours of the Italian nation throughout history: how has Italy been defined and how is it defined today? How was Dante’s Italy different from Da Vinci’s? How was unification Italy different from today? In this part we will also identify, compare, and contrast different ways of articulating Italian identity through political, legal, cultural, economic, and linguistic parameters. Part II invites students to engage with the diversity of Italian regions—their languages, cultures, and sub-national identities—through a representative set of regional case studies. Finally, in Part III students will explore the nature of italianità (Italianness) as represented both in the diasporic movement of Italians around the world, and in current debates over immigration to Italy and the rights of immigrants’ children—born in Italy-- to enjoy the benefits of Italian citizenship. This course is conducted entirely in Italian.