How Long Does It Take To Learn Italian?

Are you thinking of taking up Italian? This beautiful language has much to offer, as long as you pay attention to the details.

Italian takes around 600 hours to learn. A dedicated learner can reach fluency in a year, but most learners will need at least two. Italian is a relatively easy language to learn for English speakers. It has many new features, but its grammar is logical and its pronunciation is consistent.

Italian is a relatively easy language to learn for English speakers. It’s slightly more difficult than Spanish and not as easy as some Germanic languages like Swedish or Dutch.

Why Learning Italian Is Not As Difficult as You Think

It’s difficult to assess exactly how long it’ll take a person to learn any language. However, it’s possible to make estimates, and the best ones we have are those made by the Foreign Service Institute.

The FSI difficulty ranking groups languages in five groups of ascending difficulty, according to how long an English speaker will take to reach fluency in each language. Category V has the hardest languages, while Category I has the easiest.

And here’s the good news: Italian is in Category I.

According to the FSI, it takes 575-600 hours to reach fluency in Italian. This means that if you study two hours every day, five days a week, you’ll reach fluency in a little over a year.

However, the FSI assumes some rather intensive and immersive conditions for the learner. If you’re a dedicated learner, you might become fluent in a year, but most people will need at least two years to be able to have a basic conversation.

Is Italian Difficult?

Italian isn’t too difficult to learn for English speakers. Its verb conjugation system can be confusing at first, but it has a consistent pronunciation and a similar structure to English.

Being a Romance language, Italian has some tricky features that aren’t present in English. These may be confusing at first, but they get easier after you get the rules right. These features are:

  • Gendered nouns. As in other romance languages, Italian nouns have grammatical gender: masculine and feminine. Adjectives and articles are also gendered and must coincide with the noun.
  • Verb conjugation. English has very few verb inflections. However, in Italian, verbs are written differently depending on the person, number, and tense. And there are many tenses. There’s even a special tense for things that happened in the ancient past!
  • Italian is very irregular. There are rules and common forms for conjugating verbs in Italian. However, unlike its cousins like Spanish, Italian has a lot of exceptions. Knowing the rules will do most of the work, but you’ll have to memorize many special verbs.
  • Definite articles. Italian has several different definite articles, and they’re used very often.

Luckily, Italian also has some easy parts. It has the same word order as English: subject-verb-object.

Most Italian sounds are already present in English, with only a few additions. Its pronunciation is very consistent: if you know how to spell it, you know how to say it.

Final Thoughts

Italian is a solid choice if it’s your first time learning a second language. There are many details you’ll have to keep track of, but none of them are excessively difficult.

Learning Italian also opens the door to learning other Romance languages. After learning Italian, going for Spanish and Portuguese will be a cakewalk, and French will be much easier.