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Online Italian Cultural Centre

As reported on the IE 100 Magazine, La Dante in Cambridge, European Cultural Centre, has won the 2023 International Elite 100 Global Award and has been recognised as the Online & In-Person Language Skills Specialists of The Year.

Giulia Portuese

Giulia Portuese Founder and Director

This prestigious award comes right after the recent prize as “Best Online & In-Person Language Educator 2023 – Cambridgeshire” awarded by the SME Business Elite Awardees for 2023, the previous two nominations in 2022 for the “Business Chameleon” and “Lockdown Leader”, and that Director of the cultural institute, Dr. Giulia Portuese, was bestowed the Honour of Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy in 2021 for her 25 years of commitment in the Uk. For over 15 years, La Dante in Cambridge, European Cultural Centre has been offering courses in Italian, Spanish, and English language and culture which, having originally taken place in the famous university city, are now also held online and available to students around the globe. What sets them apart is their ever-growing team ranging from the Italian, Spanish, and English native teachers, all the way to the Marketing and Administration unit, coordinated by Marketing Manager Gilda Notarbartolo, all of whom show the utmost dedication to their work.

Gilda Notarbartolo, Marketing Manager on Radio Dante

Gilda Notarbartolo, Marketing Manager on Radio Dante


“What distinguishes us at La Dante in Cambridge – explains Giulia Portuese – is the genuine passion for the dissemination of languages and culture. This definitely allows us to offer the best possible educational path to students of all ages and nationalities.  Over the years, we have developed a very good method and system that make our students able to reach easily their learning goals, and so our multicultural family grow. It is very rewarding for each member of our team to see that efforts pay off. I am very grateful for this. Besides, in today’s global economy, businesses are increasingly operating in multicultural environments with counterparts from different countries and cultures. In such a context, language barriers significantly impact every business’s life. Of course, this makes our school’s services crucial for the success of every company.”


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meeting business language

In today’s global economy, businesses are increasingly operating in multicultural environments, with companies conducting business with counterparts from different countries and cultures. In such a context, effective communication is crucial, and language barriers can significantly impact a business’s success or failure. While it may be tempting to rely on English as a common language, can you afford not to speak the language of the country you work with? This is a question that companies operating in Italy and Spain should seriously consider.

In Italy, English is not widely spoken, with only 21% of the population speaking English fluently, according to a 2019 Eurobarometer survey. Furthermore, a study by the European Commission revealed that Italian companies that conduct international business and speak the language of the country they are working with achieve better results than those that do not. For example, companies that do not speak the local language have a 25% lower chance of exporting their products or services.

Similarly, in Spain, only 22% of the population speaks English fluently. Still, it is a country that heavily relies on international trade, and being able to communicate effectively with foreign partners is critical. Research by the Spanish Confederation of Employers and Industries (CEOE) suggests that Spanish companies that do not speak the language of the country they are working with experience a 30% drop in exports, while those that invest in language training for their employees can increase their export sales by 45%.

language for business la danteThe importance of language proficiency in business cannot be overstated. Speaking the local language allows for smoother communication and builds trust between parties. It also helps to understand the culture and customs of the country, which can be critical in building successful relationships. By speaking the local language, businesses can gain a competitive advantage over those that do not.

Moreover, language proficiency can also improve employee morale and job satisfaction. Employees who can speak the local language are more likely to feel integrated into the local community and can develop closer relationships with colleagues and clients.

In recent years, Italy and Spain have recognized the importance of English for business and have taken steps to promote language learning. In Italy, the government has launched initiatives to improve English language proficiency, and English has been made a compulsory subject in schools. In Spain, the government has launched the “Plan for the Promotion of Language Learning,” which aims to increase language proficiency levels, particularly in English.

However, companies cannot rely solely on government initiatives to bridge the language gap. It is the responsibility of companies to invest in language training for their employees. This investment can include language courses, hiring bilingual employees, or using language learning software.

In conclusion, can you afford not to speak the language of the country you work with? For companies operating in Italy and Spain, the answer is no. In today’s global economy, language proficiency is essential for business success. Speaking the local language can improve communication, build trust, and increase sales. Companies must invest in language training for their employees to remain competitive in the international market.



Dott.ssa Giulia Portuese, BA, OSI
Director and founder, La Dante in Cambridge, European Cultural Centre



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La Dajnte in Cambridge Award

La Dante in Cambridge, European Cultural Centre, has been recognised as “Best Online & In-Person Language Educator 2023 . Cambridgeshire”.”Each year we look to celebrate those enterprises who consistently provide the best services and products for their clients, allowing them to stand out within their representative fields. – the Award organisers comment – The SME Business Elite Awardees for 2023 have been handpicked by SME News Magazine based purely on comprehensive research and analysis conducted by the wider group. This proven approach ensures that we award on merit, not popularity and recognise the very best in business. We award those SME’s that are succeeding in their endeavours, innovating, growing, and improving”.

The prize, to be awarded at the annual SME Business Elite Awards for 2023, represents the third acknowledgement after their two nominations in 2022 for the “Business Chameleon” and “Lockdown Leader”. In fact, it is with great pride that the cultural institute directed by Dr. Giulia Portuese, bestowed the Honour of Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy in 2021 by President Mattarella, celebrates this news which once again confirms the high quality of service offered every day by the dedicated and qualified teams at La Dante. For over 15 years, Cambridge’s European Centre has been offering courses in Italian, Spanish, and English language and culture which, having originally taken place in the famous university city, are now also held online and available to students around the globe. What sets them apart is their ever-growing team ranging from the Italian, Spanish, and English native teachers, all the way to the Marketing and Administration unit, coordinated by Marketing Manager Gilda Notarbartolo, all of whom show the utmost dedication to their work.

Giulia Portuese

Giulia Portuese, Director La Dante in Cambridge

Gilda Notarbartolo, Marketing Manager La Dante in Cambridge

Dott.ssa Gilda Notarbartolo, Marketing Manager La Dante in Cambridge

“At La Dante in Cambridge, what distinguishes us is undoubtedly the strong passion we have for the dissemination of languages and culture, our work, and the respect that each member of La Dante reserves for those who share this interest by joining our family. This allows us to offer the best possible educational path to students of all ages and nationalities` – explains Giulia Portuese – Once again, I can say that efforts pay off and our multicultural family continues to grow more and more every day in the best way.”

Info: – – +447822010718


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italian argentina

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Buenos Aires, you might have wondered at times why it felt
as though you were stepping through the streets of Milan or Genoa. Many people comment on the
seeming lack of diversity throughout the nation, and once you notice it, it’s hard to ignore just how
much the demographic differs from the other Latin American countries. To understand the reasons for
this phenomenon, we have to go back a few centuries, specifically to start of the 16th century when
the colonisation of Latin America was in full force.

italian argentina

In 1502, about 10 years after the discovery of the
Americas, the Spanish set their sights on Argentina, but it wasn’t until 1516 that the mass migration to the region began. All over the continent thus far, there had been a significant prevalence of Spanish settlers, with Argentina being no exception.

Throughout the 1500s many conquistadors came and went, and Argentina was on the road to become as culturally and economically rich as its Latin neighbours; but without cohesion amongregions and a lack of support from Spain, this progress was short-lived. Fast- forward to the early
1800s; amid the Peninsular War when King Ferdinand VII was overthrown, this triggered a resistance not only in Europe, but also in the colonies around Latin America. Now without a King, the people living in the Spanish colonies decided it was best they ruled themselves, a desire that brought on the May revolution of 1810 or rather, the Argentine war of Independence. And in 1825, after years of military action and campaigns, (and help from the Chilean army) Argentina was made independent.
With their newfound independence came the opportunity for social and economic growth, and between the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, Argentina was experiencing just that, thus generating a strong demand for immigrants. The Argentine population at the time was only 1.1 million and, with the addition of newly acquired land from the war, there was a lot of space to be filled. Because of this, in the 1870s and 80s, the government decided to offer free and subsidised land to families as an incentive to bring over new citizens. Simultaneously, in Italy, with push factors such as overpopulation, poverty, political instability, and very limited economic opportunities (particularly in the southern regions) many Italians were driven to seek a better life abroad. This was the perfect exchange for both parties, and Italian immigrants arrived in large numbers seeking new opportunities
on Argentine soil. Argentina was one of the main destinations for Italian immigrants at that time – in fact it is estimated that between 1857 and 1940, more than 6 million Italians reached Argentina. They settled mostly in urban areas as well as establishing themselves in the farmlands, where they made significant contributions to the development of the countries, now renowned, agricultural sector. Upon their arrival, Italian immigrants naturally faced many challenges, starting with language barriers, they also had difficulties adapting culturally and experienced much discrimination as a result. Despite these initial hardships, they managed to establish a sense of community; they founded Italian newspapers, language schools and cultural organisations that helped preserve
their culture and facilitated the integration of Italians into Argentine society.


Argentine Republic, from Flags of All Nations, Series 1 (N9) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands
View public domain image source hereOver time, Italian immigrants and their d

Over time, Italian immigrants and theirescen ddants blended into society, while maintaining strong ties with their geographical and cultural origins. Many Italians became entrepreneurs, artisans, and professionals, all of whom contributed to the growth of the urban middle class, legitimising their place in society. And of course, they brought their culinary traditions, art, music and even elements of the language to Argentina. Today, the Italian influence in Argentina persists; we see it in in the popularity of Italian cuisine, the architecture, the prevalence of Italian surnames and a widespread of the Mediterranean customs and values embedded in Argentine culture. Argentina is now the country with the largest Italian presence, after Italy of course, and Italian culture is so deeply rooted that it has become a huge part of Argentine Identity. The population of Italo-Argentines, according to various studies, 25 million people and it is the first ethnic group in a South American country that makes up more than 50% of the population.
It’s fair to say that Italian immigration has shaped the demographic composition, economy, and cultural identity in Argentina; Italian influence is perhaps the most prevalent within the cultural melting pot that is Argentina and has most certainly left a deep and lasting impact on the country.


Christina Usuanlele

The best movies and songs to learn and improve your Italian

italian movies
Italian movies and music are great tools for improving your Italian language skills. At the same tim you will immerse yourself in the Italian culture. Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate speaker, you can use them. There is something for everyone in the vast world of Italian film and music. In this article we highlight some of the best ones: the Italian movies and songs that are perfect for language learners.

Italian Movies for Language Learners


1. “La Vita è Bella” (Life is Beautiful) is a heartwarming comedy-drama film. The story is about a father who uses his humor to protect his young son from the harsh reality of life in a Nazi concentration camp. The film is easy to follow and features a charming performance by Roberto Benigni.

2. “Il Postino” (The Postman) is a beautifully shot film. The story is about a simple postman who befriends the famous poet Pablo Neruda. It is set on two stunning Italian islands. The small island of Procida, in the bay of Naples, and the island of Salina, in Sicily, are such beautiful scenery. The film is slow-paced and easy to understand, making it a great option for language learners.
3. “L’Avventura” is a classic Italian film by Michelangelo Antonioni. It is known for its stunning cinematography and thought-provoking story. The film can be challenging for language learners. But the dialogue is slow and easy to follow, and the Italian used is authentic and culturally rich.
4. “La Grande Bellezza” (The Great Beauty) is a visually stunning film. The story is about a jaded writer who rediscovers the beauty of life in modern-day Rome. The film features a rich soundtrack and includes a lot of Italian dialogue. All this makes it a great option for intermediate to advanced language learners.

Italian Songs for Language Learners

Italian songs
1. “Volare” (Fly) by Domenico Modugno. It is a classic Italian song about the freedom of flight. This upbeat and catchy tune is a great way to practice listening and comprehension skills.
2. “Non ti scordar di me” (Don’t forget about me) by Luciano Pavarotti. It is a beautiful ballad. And it is sung by one of Italy’s most famous tenors. This song is a great way to practice Italian pronunciation and intonation.
3. “Il Cielo in una Stanza” (The sky in a room) by Gino Paoli. It is a simple and romantic song that is easy to understand and follow, this is a great option for beginners. Even the version sung by the singer Mina is beautiful. 
4. “Con te Partirò” (I will leave with you) by Andrea Bocelli. It is a beautiful love song. Bocelli is one of Italy’s most famous tenors. This song is a great way to practice listening and comprehension skills. You will also learn about Italian culture and romance.
Whether you prefer the drama of Italian films or the melodies of Italian songs, these resources will work. They are a great way to improve your Italian skills and immerse yourself in the Italian language and culture. So why not pop some popcorn, press play, and start your Italian language journey today! Learning Italian is fun.

How to learn Italian fast? Check out La Dante in Cambridge, European Cultural CentreThe native professional teachers at La Dante use the Communicative Approach. This is one of the most effective ways to learn a new language based on immersive language learning. La Dante tutors offer online group and individual classes. Online and face-to-face individual tuition; as well as long-term and intensive courses.

For more information, or phone/WhatsApp +447887606227.

7 secrets to learn Italian you need to know

Learn Italian secrets

When it comes to learn a new language, we can feel overwhelmed.   Will it be hard to go back to study? Will I have enough time to dedicate to it during my hectic days? Is Italian too different from my own mother tongue?

Italian is such a beautiful and poetic language linked to a culture we love or that we want to know better. So we deserve to learn it!

The true good news is that you can learn it at any age, and it is easy.      

learn italian fast                   italian for every age

I guess this explains why over 230 million people in the world study Italian. The right program will make you learn this splendid language if you want it. Here I will tell about 7 simple tips you can follow to make it faster than what you think.


What is the best way of learning Italian?


  1. Of course the best way to learn a new language is being immersed as much as possible in the language to start with. This means to expose yourself to the foreign vocabulary even before we’re aware of the meaning of each word. So, following lessons or having conversations with native speakers will help.

  1. Be consistent. Becoming fluent in it will need some patience and perseverance. So write down your favourite sentences or words, and practice them every day. One each day. To easy remember some vocabulary, you can help yourself. How? For example using some sticky-notes to attach to household appliances. So, on the washing machine you will stick “lavatrice”; on the dishwasher, “lavastoviglie”; on the fridge the word “frigorifero”, and so on…

italian school

  1. Watch videos, and turn on the Italian subtitles. The most useful platforms and websites are Youtube, Netflix, and Raiplay. This is the online platform of Rai, the national public broadcaster. Unless you have a VPN, though, you can watch some of the content outside Italy (such as Un Posto al Sole for instance)


  1. Learn while playing. By that I mean: use apps. The best one is Duolingo, free and suited for every level.

duolinguo study Italian                 italian classes


  1. Read. And also out loud. There are plenty of choices: you can read books (and easily start from those for children), comics, websites, magazines online according to your main interests (we suggest Il Confronto which is mostly about Art and Culture, and current affairs and Italian news), and blogs (this is one of my favourite ones..). I am a reader and book lover, so I could not recommend more such a pleasant activity to reach your magic goal.


  1. Listen to radio shows and podcasts in Italian. Find your favourite shows and stick with that for a while. On Radio Dante you can listen to some of my interviews I like to make while I am in Italy. You will listen to only good news and curiosities about the Italian culture and Art. As mentioned, you will also “meet” many people who are interviewed during the main shows which are in streaming on the main platforms too (from Spotify, to Alexa, to Apple Podcast, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts etc.). Think how easy it is to do that while’ you’re busy in other activities. By that I mean: during your errands, or on your daily commute. As well as while you’re working out, or while you’re taking care of housecleaning. This exercise will also help you master the pronunciation.


  1. Visit Italy. Choose your dreamy destination (Venice? Naples? Rome? Palermo?). You can practice your Italian with local people. Asking for directions or ordering a nice plate of spaghetti with a good wine. Italians love to spend a lot of time in long chats, and the also like to know about your story. You might fall in love with some Italians, and that will be BINGO! Love brings you everywhere even to learn very fast a new language.

Italy Italian to travel

Italian, even with its fascinating complexities, is an easy language for English speakers. Its vocabulary, as a matter of fact, is quite close to many English words. Think of vocabulary such as “jogging”, “finale”, “feeling”, “diva” “shock”, “melodia”, “poeta” .

How to learn Italian fast? Check out La Dante in Cambridge, European Cultural Centre. The native professional teachers at La Dante use the Communicative Approach. This is one of the most effective ways to learn a new language based on immersive language learning. La Dante tutors offer online group and individual classes. Online and face-to-face individual tuition; as well as long-term and intensive courses.

For more information, or phone/WhatsApp +447887606227.


Can you run a business without foreign languages?

language learning cambridge

Have you ever got in trouble in the workplace because of some miscommunication caused by cultural differences? Misunderstandings sometimes are caused by cultural differences and language barriers, while being able to speak a language is not equal to fully understanding
a language. It might sound a bit tricky and complicated as you might be questioning why has the person become cold or not reacted the way you wanted. Did you lose a deal or was there awkwardness during the meeting?
Understanding business culture – will this make a difference for your business?
We easily get confused with the business norms if we are not familiar with the local cultures when doing business internationally. Let’s take negotiation skills as examples, the ways people negotiate, view and interpret the negotiation process, closely vary among local cultures.
For instance, from a Chinese perspective, negotiations exist primarily as a mechanism for building trust so that two parties can work together for the benefit of both. In business meetings or other situations, you want to build up the relationship and avoid embarrassing or even raising your glass above your Chinese guest. What is disrespectful to Chinese culture? Do not touch, hug, lock arms, back slap or make any body contact. Furthermore, clicking fingers or whistling is considered very rude. Never put your feet on a desk or a chair, and Never gesture or pass an object with your feet. Blowing one's nose in a handkerchief and returning it to one's pocket is considered vulgar by the Chinese.
 If you deal with  German business people instead, always show data and analytics above all.
 It can come as a surprise for some of us that, from a Japanese perspective,
“Yes” doesn’t mean “Yes”, it means  I understand instead due to its disciplined social system.
So it is crucial to take into consideration that cultural differences may result in misunderstandings when doing business. Moreover, Japan is a more relationship-oriented culture than countries such as Australia, particularly when it comes to doing business. Japanese want to know and trust someone before they do business with them. Relationships are developed through informal social gatherings and generally involve a considerable amount of eating and drinking. I would say that it’s the same if you wish to build up a  work relationship in Italy or Spain.
 If you are meeting Italians, always make sure you invite them to a good restaurant. It’s important for Italians to build a trust prior to doing business. Relationships are very important in Italian business culture. In the ‘Bel Paese, business people want to be familiar with their business contacts, so I suggest you work with a local representative to arrange introductions and appointments before your trip. Italians expect formality. When meeting contacts for the first time, address them a “Signor(e)’ (Mr.)” or “Signora’ (Mrs.),” with their surname. Wait until you’re invited to use their first name in subsequent meetings to be safe. It’s important to show respect for elders, people in positions of authority and people with professional titles such as “Dottore/ Dottoressa (Doctor).” Italian companies often employ a horizontal chain of authority, called “cordata” (which literally translates to a team of mountain climbers on the same rope). To fully understand this concept, maintain a good relationship with contacts who can educate you on theinternal structure of the companies you wish to do business with. Also, bear in mind that anticipate those negotiations often take time. Trying to rush the process or conveying urgency can weaken your bargaining position. For all these reasons we have to be very cautious of how different cultures behave during meetings
and deals can be facilitated overseas. Apart from negotiation skills, being able to express your opinions and writing business
reports are also very important.  Having proficient language skills help you overcome early difficulties in the workplace. B2 Business Vantage exam qualification can demonstrate that you are capable of doing business tasks in business English as it is a globally recognised exam. This test, in fact, is one of the three Cambridge English Qualifications for business  exams. Each of them is targeted at a different level. B2 is a middle level, which shows employers that you are ready to work successfully with international business companies.
The content for the exam is based on real everyday work and business tasks and is designed to develop your business English skills. By getting a B2 certificate, you will improve your career opportunities and easily be accepted globally by top international companies. According to statistics, employees are 18% more likely to have a faster progression than their peers, while 17% more likely to have pay rises.

language learning BBC cambridge
Sharing our experience with you
One of our business students Leon, a senior engineer at Qualcomm, in charge of developing Ads and writing code, did his online preparation for the B2 Business Vantage exam at La Dante in Cambridge.  When the course started, our business English trainer Alexis immediately
got to know his background, including his English level and the goals he wanted to achieve. So, Alexis started preparing teaching material to improve Leon’s skills, and realised that being Chinese he needed to be introduced to small talk that is
something British love prior to starting a business conversation. It was really interesting to see how Chinese and British need to learn on simple sentence building that makes them comfortable during the meeting. English business culture was introduced with real-life examples, and Leon’s presenting and communication skills greatly advanced. As language learning is of high importance for export as well as for establishing businesses overseas, at La Dante in Cambridge we pride ourselves of having taught highly regarded firms since 2010: Birkets, Qualcomm, ETT Solutions, and Corepixx among others with promoting business, and language culture in Italian, Spanish and English.

Article written by Dott.ssa Giulia Portuese, Director and founder at La Dante in Cambridge
and contribution from Alexis Loizou, English teacher for professionals


The winners of the awards ‘BUSINESS CHAMELEON’ and ‘LOCKDOWN LEADER’ will be announced on the on the 17th February 2022 at the Imperial Museum Duxford

‘The 2022 has started with some excitement at La Dante in Cambridge, European Cultural Centre after two years of transformation online, retraining, building new platforms and having a completely new approach to give our students a thorough language learning experience online, in all similar to the face to face classes’ – Giulia Portuese, Director and Founder of La Dante in Cambridge, states. The Cultural Centre and Language school run by Giulia Portuese is celebrating two nomination for the Cambridge Independent SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards 2021: the ‘Business chameleon’ and the ‘Lockdown leader’ . These awards celebrate SME businesses punching above their weight during Covid19 in the past two years: in particular, they recognise how the business became resilient and thrived during tough economic times and how the team and leadership had a key role in the transformation.

We have met Dr Portuese at St. John’s Innovation Centre where the company is located.


Question 1 *

Tell us briefly about you and your business

La Dante in Cambridge is a European Cultural Centre promoting Italian, Spanish and English languages and cultures with a mix of online, face to face classes and enthusiastic native qualified teachers. Our Radio Dante’s original programmes help develop their listening and comprehension skills. We are also developing our Ryze App: a pocket learning app which has hours of listening, texts, exercises people can use in their own time and place. Learning languages is now affordable for all with just $2 for half an hour of teachers’ tuition. The App is packed with FREE content: it’s fun, interactive and flexible.


Question 2 *

Tell us briefly about the digital transformation within your business in the past 2 years which evidence your current business successes.

The digital transformation of La Dante brought some real results in the past 2 years : a) The director and founder Dr Giulia Portuese was given a knighthood from the Italian President Mattarella in Dec 2021 for the Order of the Stars of Italy, b) La Dante in Cambridge is a finalist for the SME Awards for the category of Business Chamelion Jan 22, c) The director was nominated finalist as a Lockdown Leader for the SME Awards in Jan 22 d) we are increasing our international influence beyond Europe and since the move to Online Learning, we are attracting students from beyond Europe, from Japan and Mexico. Our international reach allows students to learn languages in an affordable way and from remote places, thanks to a new Plateo Online learning platform which has a social media platform included. People learn and make friends.

Our Radio Dante podcasts increased their listeners by 69% over the past two years (Buzzsprout, Youtube, Spotify). The Ryze App language pocket app has had its first trial and we received a really good feedback from your sample group of students.


Question 3 *

How your business differentiates from your competitors and has the leading edge

La Dante has three recognitions as Examination Board: a PLIDA Examination Centre for Italian (the only one in the UK), DELE Examination Centre for Spanish and Trinity College London Centre for English (registration n. 68910). We are the only Examination Centre in the UK to provide exams for Italian citizenship, recognised by the Dante Alighieri Society. The only office, among 400 Dante offices in the world, who have a regular cultural podcast programme via which has interviews, music, traditions, cinema and cuisine in Italian and Spanish. It’s run by volunteers, teachers and young graduates who wish to build up their experience in journalism. La Dante is also a European Training Centre with a consolidated European Internship programme running since 2010: we train young graduates on digital marketing, google ads, google analytics, website and SEO, skills that are essential in any business. We are also a Teacher Training Centre since 2010: we offer a programme of teacher training for obtaining CEDILS, DITALS as well as CLIL exams for European teachers. We are expanding the programme to Spanish and Italian teachers using CLIL techniques for teaching history, art, maths in English to children and teenagers.


Question 4 *

Demonstrate with examples that this successful business performance is sustainable long term

Since 2010 La Dante has developed its business in language learning through live classes where native trained teachers had a communication technique using physical textbooks and being in a physical school until March 2020. Once Covid arrived, the leader started a digital transformation programme thanks to the Digital Grants from the UK government, £10,000 was invested in creating a new Plateo Online platform where students, teachers, marketing staff could be under one roof, where students could watch videos, have a social profile and communicate. A retraining programme started 3 weeks prior to the UK government closing all schools in the Uk in March 2020: teachers had to relearn the way they taught using digital resources, producing different material, learning to use Zoom and breakout rooms in Zoom, learn a more dynamic way of teaching. The marketing team and interns had to be retrained in using the platform, promote the school in a thorough different way via Google Ads, google analytics and SEO. This ensured that the business can embrace the most advanced digital technology and thrive in the next 10 years. All team, after some difficulties, embraced all our implemented changes. I feel proud.


Question 5 *

We are also interested in hearing

  • how businesses have adapted and changed to meet the challenges and opportunities of Covid-19 for consideration of a special award. Please advise
  • how you have invested and developed new products, services, techniques, skills or processes to meet the changing demands that Covid-19 brought to your business and
  • how you are maintaining or increasing your operations in established and new markets as a result.

La Dante showed a quick period of adaptability and change to meet the challenges and opportunities of Covid-19: we transformed the way we taught languages, making it fun from face to face to online for all, teachers, students and staff. We helped students who couldn’t go straight onto digital for their age or because they didn’t have the IT skills to change so quickly by providing FREE IT training for Zoom Education and Google Classrooms.  This allowed all to be safe in view of increasing infections since 2020 onwards.

–           To respond to the Covid challenges, La Dante invested £10,000 in a NEW digital Plateo Online teaching platform, we retrained our marketing and teachers to use different techniques (Zoom was embedded, Google Classrooms, Blink Learning), lots of new technical skills and processes had to be learned over a year of intense training with external providers.  Ryze App was developed with the University of Norwich, Cambridge and

–           We are maintaining the market share within established markets like Italy and Spain but equally attracting new business from Japan and Mexico. Online tuition is here to stay and develop to reach even more countries with digital marketing.


Question 6*

Tell us some stories on how the team responded, make it personal

Well, at the beginning the team was reluctant to big changes, especially teachers who had managed to build up their teaching material and relationship with the students with face to face lessons. Things had to change, not only in order to survive but to thrive. The leadership used by the director was to persuade them to embrace change and learn new skills for life, renewing skills through training and innovation without the risk of losing work. We trained teachers, students who were not IT savy and invested in new online platforms. By the end of the two years: we gained new students and maintained ours.

We definitely welcomed change. Some teachers and some of tbe marketing team thrived during this period of change. We also had some personal satisfaction:

We welcomed two babies to the world: our teacher Luisa gave birth to Zoe early in the Spring, and Tamara gave birth to Tommaso  in December, Lucia and Emilia are expecting their first child in the next few weeks. All this brought immense joy to the team and  this year definitely started with enthusiasm and energy that we all share at La Dante in Cambridge.


To contact us:

0044 7887 606227 whatsapp

Please let us know if you wish to talk to the Marketing Manager Gilda Notarbartolo or the director Dr Giulia Portuese

Inspiring background story of the European Cultural Centre, La Dante in Cambridge: A creative language learning hub

By Giulia Portuese

Background of La Dante

It all started with the passion and dissemination of promoting my language and culture. I am Italian of Sicilian origins and with two sons Lorenzo and Luca born in Cambridge, my goal was to let them feel the richness of my Italian culture by giving them the gift of being bilingual. It wasn’t easy at all as in those days when they were just 5 and 2 years old (1997) there weren’t any good Italian schools in Cambridge. Just one with crowded classes of all levels with more than 30 children and one teacher paid by the government. There was a clear need for helping the Italian community and those families whose children were bilingual like mine.

After over 10 years spent at Cambridge University Press, the need for a cultural centre more than a school started to form in my mind and a strong need to make a difference in disseminating a great Italian culture and language in a country that has always had a fascination with Italian language

Think of Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Lady Morgan, Percy Shelley, John Keats, George Eliot, John Ruskin, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence and W.B. Yeats to think of just a few. Think of the fascination of the Montalbano TV series that most people who study Italian know about.

The Eurovision context won by Maneskin is one of the newest groups that bring Italian at a European level.

I left CUP and with a project approved by the Dante Aligheri Society in Rome, I started La Dante in Cambridge, in September 2008 with just 6 students learning Italian. It was such fun and we joined forces with the then Director of the Alliance Française Francine Rouanet-Democrate in a dream that went beyond the dissemination of Italian (in my case) and French (in her case) but in building up and creating a European Cultural Centre based in Cambridge.

Well, I am very proud to say that, although we changed paths along the way and the AF passed on to other hands, I was able to create such a European Cultural Centre, La Dante in Cambridge which now offers language and culture in three languages: Italian, Spanish and English.

We got about 400 students per year, a nice achievement, and the knowledge that we help not just the community of Italian and Spanish but whoever is interested in these cultures. Our students are from age 5 to 90.

Yes that is right 90: we had a student who was 90 MaryAnn and came with her stick, borrowed books in Italian, attended her classes with our native speakers. That was a wonderful moment. She stayed with us for two years.

We help students who wish to learn for fun, for their exams (including my sons who did their GCSE and A-levels in Italian), business people improving their language proficiency and University entry exams. Some need languages just for travel.

This year in 2021, we were part of
East Anglia’s high-growth business programme

at Future50 for 2021.

With this interview, Kieran Miles, Programme Director at Future50

Highlights the journey of La Dante from an Italian Cultural Centre In 2010 to a European Cultural Centre with more than 400 students. The difficulties through the Covid-19 pandemic, the resilience of a great team and the transformation to carry on making an impact in language learning. He also mentioned the prestigious honorary award OSI given by Sergio Mattarella, Itaian president of Italy for the dissemination of Italian language and culture in the UK since 2010.


Since 2011, I also started the Radio Dante programmes with original podcasts, also on social media FB, spotify, buzzsprout and mixcloud. We have had prestigious collaborations with the Fitzwilliam Museum for Italian Art series, the Department of Italian and Spanish at Cambridge University as well as journalists, interns that collaborated in disseminating programmes in Spanish, Italian and English over the years. Lately we have two themes which are being developed:

Radio Dante Viaggi for those who travel to Italy

Radio Dante Racconta for children stories in Italian

the same for Spanish

Radio Dante Viajes

Radio Dante Cuentos

Forthcoming there is our Ryze APP The Pocket Learning APP, for learning Italian and Spanish to begin with, later we will add English, with the following functions

  • text
  • videos
  • podcasts
  • games
  • exercises
  • articles

which aim at attracting a younger audience for language learning.

This will reinforce our Online school Platform which started in March 2020 due to the pandemic. We had to renew and with hard work, determination, after over 10 years of being a face-to-face school, we transformed and enriched what we offered to our students by switching online for adult courses. This was a difficult time for us at La Dante, huge transformation, but with the dedication and understanding of my team, teachers and most importantly our wonderful students, we were able to do just that, and I am pleased to say that the 400 students stayed with us, some were new and mostly were those that started their language journey along the way.


In 2021, I was also blessed with an OSI Honorary title for the Order of the Star of Italy from the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella for the work done disseminating Italian language and culture in the UK.

In an interview with ‘Cambridge News’ our Director tells her story

‘Dr Giulia Portuese set up La Dante back in 2010 as a way for Italians looking for work to learn English. After initially welcoming just six children and adults they quickly expanded to also teaching English and Spanish to hundreds at the school.’

European Cultural Centre La Dante in Cambridge

Giulia Portuese


Read the whole interview here