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4 Reasons why learning a new language requires full immersion

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If you are anything like me and the millions of students who’ve gone through the American public school system, learning a foreign language is nothing short of a joke. Despite our education system’s best intentions, classroom learning is an exercise in laboratory futility. We memorize by rote a few words, we take a few tests, and when language learning is no longer a requirement, we forget everything immediately.

Although experiencing learning a language in an immersion environment is fairly common for some college students who study abroad, it’s definitely far from being the norm. Personally, I took almost three years of Russian language classes in college, and then I spent a semester actually learning the language in St. Petersburg, Russia. This experience differed drastically from my high school Spanish classes. Here’s why an immersion environment, even if only for a few months, is absolutely instrumental.

1. You learn to let your fears go

This was perhaps the most important reason for me in terms of learning in an immersion environment. When you learn a language in a classroom, you do so piecemeal. You memorize vocabulary words, do some conversation exercises, maybe write a few paragraphs. In an immersion environment, you have to speak the language, or else suffer isolation. This was especially true in Russia, where many of my Russian friends hardly spoke English. After awhile, you begin to lose your inhibitions and you become less afraid of making mistakes, grammatical or otherwise. And when you lose this fear, you open yourself up to authentic conversation practice, one in which you learn as you go.

2. You learn the way children learn-naturally

A friend of mine who speaks only English, once told me, rather jokingly, that she finds it remarkably how very young German children can speak a language that seems so incredibly difficult. This conversation made me realize that the quickest and best way to learn a language is to approach the process as a child would. You don’t memorize flashcards, and you don’t complete pages of homework. You just listen, absorb, and speak. Being an immersion environment helps language learners to learn a target language naturally, like a child.

3. You become acquainted with the way the language is spoken in “real life.”

I’m sure Russian language teachers cringe if they would have heard some of the slang that I picked up in my time in St. Petersburg. But there’s more than just youth slang when I talk about learning a living language, as it is actually spoken. There’s learning the way people joke, and the types of jokes that are considered funny. There’s also idiomatic ways of speaking that aren’t necessarily considered slang. For example, in American English, we may say “I’m about to head over to my friend’s house.” No English teacher would correct this construction, but it’s not something you’d learn to say in an English textbook either.

4. You learn aspects of language that cannot be replicated in a foreign classroom

Of course, I’m not in any way trying to dismiss the effectiveness of a classroom education. I probably would have not survived in Russia socially if I had not taken a few years of courses at my home university before departing. But I was astounded by how much more I learned about the Russian language-the pronunciation, the intonation, the vocal and facial emotions appropriate for certain expressions-by just going out for a few nights in St. Petersburg.

Not all language learners, of course, will have the opportunity to spend some time in an immersion environment. But if you can’t actually fly across the world to learn a new language, you can always create an immersion environment. Find native speakers in your vicinity using MeetUp or Live Mocha. Talk to native speakers using Skype. Another great option is just paying a few dollars extra to subscribe to a Russian, Chinese, Spanish, or English language channel through your cable company, like I did when I got home to America. Whatever you do, try to replicate the immersion environment as best as you can. You’ll be surprised at the results.

by Katheryn Rivas

Find out more about the Full Immersion programme for children and teenagers in Cambridge at La Dante International

Internship in the UK

Study & career programme in Cambridge with an internship in the UK
Attending the Career Day in Padova in May 205 and Florence 6,7 & 8 October 2015, we were overwhelmed by the interest in our programme which entails a preparation for work in the UK, interview preparation and offer of interviews in UK firms with an internship from six months to a year.
At La Dante International, we aim at giving young graduate students this unique opportunity and are aware on how important it is to bridge the gap between education and work.

Here we pride in giving graduates with excellent students an experience that will give a unique start up in their career. During the course they will be in contact with start up experts, UKTI adivsors, business angels, University advisers, funding opportunities in the UK.

To find out more:

Celebrating the XV week of the Italian language in the world

La Dante in Cambridge is proud to promote the XV Italian language celebration in the world – under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic with a series of

Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy
The public lectures are at 6 pm in Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge

In collaboration with: Italian Cultural Institute London, La Dante in Cambridge, Department of Italian, Cambridge University, Dante Centres at Leeds and Notre Dame

Dante ha 750 anni, ma noi continuiamo a leggerlo e ci prepariamo, con #Dantemania, alle celebrazioni dantesche del 2021. Inizia nel 2015 il conto alla rovescia per i settecento anni dalla morte di Dante Alighieri, uno dei poeti italiani più studiati e amati #italofonia

Enjoy A New Skill – Learn Italian

At La Dante in Cambridge

Enjoy a unique experience of language and culture 

New classes are starting September 7th 

Open Days 3,4 & 5 September, 9.30-17.30

Facts about learning the language of love as it’s known:

  • More than 80 million people speak Italian.
  • Arguably, the easiest what-you-hear-is-what-you-write orthography based on the Roman alphabet. You’ll be reading and writing in no time.
  • Would help in learning other Romance languages like French, Portuguese and Spanish. The phonology (sound system) is much closer to Spanish (which is the 3rd or 4th most widely spoken language), however, in vocabulary it’s closer to French.
  • Italian is considered to be one of the closest resembling Latin in terms of vocabulary, while Sardinian (a dialect or a language in its own right) is closest in terms of phonology.    
  • Learning Italian Language Skills Enhances Your Life
  • Studying a language requires time and dedication. If learning a foreign language is something you’re serious about, you probably want to be assured that you’ll get something out of it before you set aside any time to take language courses. Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of learning Italian.


Italian is, of course, the official language of Italy. If you ever travel there, knowing at least a few  common Italian phrases will help you get around. But if you learn the language a little more in-depth before you go, not only will you be better able to communicate in Italy and Vatican City, you’ll also find it easier to get around in places such as Switzerland and San Marino, as Italian is widely spoken in both countries.

Taking a few Italian courses before traveling to a location where Italian is spoken will make it easier to understand—and be understood by—personnel in hotels, restaurants and stores, as well as people you may meet in social situations. Being able to converse with people can help you learn more about the country and have a more well-rounded experience.

In addition to these travel-related benefits, you may be interested to know that if you  learn Italian, you can further your career, and even improve your health.


More and more employers are looking for people with foreign language skills, and not just for translator or interpreter positions. Being able to speak a second (or even third) language makes you  very attractive to companies that have offices outside the United States. Some businesses will even offer bilingual employees bonuses and higher salaries if they bring language skills to the table.

Learning Italian specifically can help you get a job with companies that have outposts in Italy, and you can also pursue positions with Italian companies that have offices in the United States or the UK. Italy boasts a few leading appliance, food, and wine producers that have large presences in the U.S. or UK. And if you have an interest in clothing design, you may be able to find a job with one of the many Italian fashion houses that do business in the U.S. OR UK.


The same way exercising your body builds muscles and keeps you agile and strong, exercising your brain helps you maintain mental acuity and memory retention. More and more people are diagnosed with dementia and other related diseases like Alzheimer’s every year. You can take steps now to ward off the effects of such conditions. One way to do that is by learning a language.

Studies have shown that the development of dementia can be delayed by learning a language. Bilingual people have better brain function, including skills like problem solving and critical thinking. Taking Italian courses (or Spanish, or Japanese, etc.) will require your brain to work differently than it usually does; slowing the aging process, and keeping you sharper, longer.

Personal Accomplishment

Other than the tangible benefits of learning Italian, such as enjoying your vacation or moving up in your career, you will also benefit from the feeling of accomplishment in learning something new, especially something as complex as a second language. Making the effort to learn a new language can not only provide personal satisfaction, it can also help you connect with others who share this interest. Making new friends is always a great way to enrich your life and experience new things.

In addition, learning Italian may be of particular interest to you if your family is Italian. Perhaps your grandparents immigrated to the United States, and you still have family in Italy. Being able to communicate with family members near and far in the native language of your ancestors is the perfect way to connect with your roots and culture. And, if you happen to have  family members or close friends who have married people from Italy, being able to speak to them in their native language will make them feel more welcome and connected to the family. If you learn Italian language skills, you can not only make your life better, but help improve someone else’s, too.

Learn Italian Language Conversational Skills Via Audio

If the last time you took a language course, you had to sit through lectures in a classroom, struggle with reading, and stress out over tests, you may not be in a hurry to repeat the experience. The good news is, if you want to learn Italian, it can be a truly enjoyable experience.

This time, try learning a language with La Dante Italian teachers using a communication approach – with a mix of language and culture – it’s by far the best way to learn a language. 

Let’s take a brief look at the benefits of learning Italian via La Dante:

  • It’s better than a book: You can hear completely accurate pronunciation of words and phrases.
  • It’s useful: Rather than simply memorizing grammar and vocabulary, you learn Italian language conversational skills, and how Italians actually speak.
  • It’s convenient: once a week you study with natives, borrow an Italian book from our library, listen to our Radio Dante, come along to a bilingual aperitif or a bilingual lunch. 
  • La Dante is your corner of Italy in Cambridge
  • Come along to our Open days 3,4 & 5 September
  • Italian classes start Sept 7 
  •   01223 315191
  • also New Classes also available from the end of September in Kings Lynn and in Saffron Walden – please enquire.

Supporting the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Thorpe Hall Hospice

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BBC-Radio-CambsLa Dante is proud to support BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, who are organising an auction to raise money for the county’s hospice Thorpe Hall. The hospice has been BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s chosen charity partner this year, as they are raising funds for a new building to help people in their final weeks and days be cared for in the best way possible.

On December 7th this year, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire are having an On-Air Auction – the station will auction off donated items or experiences to our listeners and encourage them to bid as much as possible to raise funds! La Dante is proud to donate a Summer Cappuccino intensive course in Italian worth £180 to the highest bidder.

Partnership with the University of Padua, Erasmus Programme

Discover another language and culture … be inspired!

Partnership with the Department of Italian, Cambridge University

We have established a great partnership with the Department of Italian at Cambridge University who are happy to share their knowledge and expertise of Italian language and culture through our bilingual programmes at Radio Dante Cambridge.

We have a range of interesting interviews among which the one talking about Pirandello with Julie Dashwood who will delight us about the great writer and playwriter on April 10th.

The Department of Italian is very active in providing the best tuition and seminars about Italian culture, we are proud to promote Professor Robin Kirkpatrick’s seminars on Dante and it’s creative projects looking at Dante through art, drama, photography and dance.

Partnership with the University of Padua, Erasmus Programme

We have started an internship programme for newly graduated Italian students who come to La Dante for a six-month training programme in marketing, administration, PR and media, and cultural events organisation. Students enjoy an Erasmus scholarship and go to training courses financed by La Dante during their volunteer period.

We also have a Study and Career Programme for English for University students who wish to acquire the best skills for entering work during or after their degree. We teach interview skills, how to write a CV and letters of presentations, work ethics in the UK, ethos and networking skills. Students also go to real networks thanks to the relationship we have with our partner organisations offering real opportunities to meet people that count in their field whether it’s research or business.

Contact us or call 01223 315191

Parkside Federation and St Mary’s Cambridge

La Dante works in partnership with Parkside Federation and St Mary’s School to make the school a centre of excellence for teaching and learning Italian, with the aim of being a model to others both in Cambridge and elsewhere.

We organise cultural events and workshops, projects for teachers and students in the school and with partners outside the school. We also co-ordinate partnership activities, such as Italian musical workshops and evening performances, cookery workshops and film screenings.

Parkside Federation

Working with our Partner School

  • We work proactively to make Italian an inspiring subject to teach and to learn, and to create an international perspective through links with Italy throughout the curriculum.
  • We support and give advice on language courses in Italy.
  • We promote and set up cross-curricular initiatives for Cambridge schools and their feeder schools
    • Hosting cultural events for a wide audience of pupils and teachers
    • Helping to further the teaching of Italian in feeder primary schools through mutual visits and shared projects
    • Giving advice on trips to Italy for pupils, teachers and heads of languages
    • Taking part in school projects in Cambridge which help to further Italian language and culture

Contact us or call 01223 315191