Basic Tips for Teaching Italian to Elementary Students

Basic Tips for Teaching Italian to Elementary Students
Page content

Where Is Italian Spoken?

It is a good idea to teach a language to children at an early age, and Italian is no exception. The following classroom tip for teaching Italian in elementary school should make the language exciting to students. Start with a map of Europe or a world map and discuss with students the foods they eat. Ask them to point out Italy on the map and to identify which of these foods are originally Italian. 

Tell students that Italian is the official language of Italy. Talk about Italy and its capital Rome and the attractions of these and other cities such as Venice with its canals and gondolas, and Florence with its great paintings. You then move on to other countries where Italian is spoken. You can even test your students’ knowledge of where Italian is spoken other than in Italy.

Teach them that Italian is also spoken in Switzerland as one of the four official languages there. Help them to find Switzerland on the map. Next, help them to find Malta, the Vatican State, San Marino, Croatia, Slovenia, France and Corsica; and explain that Italian speakers will also be found in these places. They can then look at South America and find Argentina on the map. Tell them that Italian is the second most spoken language here, with Spanish being the first.

The Italian Influence

Children love to hear stories, so before moving on to actually learning some words of the language, you can continue to tell them about the historic influence of Italian culture in our society and others. In addition to spaghetti and pizza, tell them more about the influence in terms of food, with words like broccoli and cappuccino. In terms of music they are probably acquainted with the words piano, solo, orchestra, and would now be fascinated to know that these are Italian words.

The Italian Alphabet and Numbers

Now you can introduce them to the alphabet, with an interesting statement that the Italian alphabet has only 21 letters, five less than in English. These five missing letters are not used in Italian words, only in foreign loan words. They are J, K, W, X and Y. Students can learn the alphabet in groups of letters with an imitated pronunciation. Use a CD for an Italian course to help with pronunciation. After practicing the alphabet, have students play at spelling their names. and their addresses in Italian.

Next move on to numbers. Start with the numbers one to ten, and then move from eleven to twenty, Teach an average of ten numbers at each class and review frequently. Here are the numbers one through ten.

1 – uno

2 – due

3 - tre

4 - quattro

5 – cinque

6 – sei

7 – sette

8 – otto

9 – nove

10- dieci

Some Useful Key Phrases

Your students are now ready to learn some key phrases in Italian. Once again use a CD so they can listen as often as possible in an effort to memorize and also acquire good pronunciation. Following are some basic phrases to include in classroom ideas for teaching Italian to your elementary students.

Hello/ Good morning/Good day – Buongiorno

Goodbye – Arrivederci

Ciao – hello/bye

Per favore – Please

Thank you- Grazie

Prego – You are welcome

Yes- Sì

No – No

Come sta?- How are you?

Bene grazie – Fine, thank you.

Scusi – I’m sorry

Non capisco – I don’t understand

Mi chiamo – My name is

Parla inglese? – Do you speak English?

Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano

Dove è il bagno, per favore? – Where is the toilet, please?

Further Topics

Use these as the basics to start making the Italian language fun to learn, especially for your elementary students. Then move on to themes like meeting people, and asking and saying where each other comes from; talking about friends and family and saying what they do in life. Use role playing to help students retain the words and phrases and have fun at the same time.