Learning Italian: It only takes a 1000 words

The other day, I came across this bit of information which I thought was really interested: it only takes a 1000 high frequency words to understand most of what is said ordinarily in a foreign language, in fact between 80% and 95% of what is saidConsidered from a complete beginners’ point of view, it makes learning a language less daunting and very achievable. This information was in fact part of a British Council campaign a few years ago. 

However, we know that a language is made up of a vast amount of lexis; it is estimated that the Italian language has around 470,000 words and if you think that this is a great deal, consider that the English language is estimated to include around 1 million! So why is it possible to get by in a language with only a 1000 words?  

Our everyday language is actually quite simple and incredibly predictable. Therefore, we can predict the language used in a wide range of basic situations by the context and therefore, a few key words can reveal the meaning of full sentences. That is why the more confident a student is and the more s/he will try to understand also by predicting the meaning. 

If however, even acquiring a 1000 words feels daunting and you feel like you are forgetting the new words as fast as you are learning them, let me give you a few tips on how to learn them more effectively. First of all, language has meaning in context. This means that it is more effective to learn new words presented in a dialogue or text or by recording them in families rather than randomlyAlso, reading lists over and over is not an effective way of remembering theseWords needs to be anchored within your existing knowledge. This is easier that it sounds and it can be fun. For example let’s take the word cucchiaio, which means spoon, the first part of the word is pronounced as in ‘cook’ so here we would suggest to think of a cook with a spoon in his hands. 

In our classes we teach these techniques and more. Our new online classes starts soon, please see our courses on this site. For more information or for a free assessment, please email: laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk, phone me on 07941 092593 or visit www.parlaitaliano.co.uk 

What to expect from your Italian class

So, what can you expect from our Parla Italiano classes, what can you expect to learn after a term, and what kind of teachers and methods are used in our classes? Here is the answer:

Parla Italiano, led by myself, has been providing Italian classes since 2006. The success of our school is due to our professional approach. First of all, our native teachers must have a qualification for teaching Italian and experience. Just being a mother tongue is not enough to be able to analyse language, prepare lessons plans with specific aims and deliver it successfully.

Second of all, at Parla Italiano we believe that learning a language is all about motivation and fun. So the environment created in class is stress-free and non-critical, even if the lesson includes correction stages. The role of our teachers is to guide and make it possible for students to learn. Our teachers are able to make the learning process simple, effective and fun by using a variety of activities and material, including games, role plays and so on.

Last but not least, we give students the opportunity to speak. Our classes are small, so students can expect interaction and speaking from lesson one. We don’t expect our students to have previous knowledge, however they will acquire enough of it each lesson to be able to use it straight away. Students are never put on the spot and are given help at each stage.

After a term of classes, students should be able to talk about themselves, ask basic questions, order at the bar and at the restaurant, express preferences and so on. You would have learnt some basic grammar such as the present tense, articles, and so on. And most importantly, have gained some confidence.

The atmosphere in class is positive and encouraging. Mistakes are considered part of the journey. Each person will develop their language skills at their pace and although we give all the tools and advice to work on outside of the class, this is by choice, you don’t have to do it. We understand that the Italian class means different things to different students and we respect that. Please get in touch if you wish to know more!

For our full list of classes please visit our website: www.parlaitaliano.co.uk and click on Group Italian Classes. If you wish to speak with us, please write to: laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or phone: 07941 092593

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

We respect you, our customer, and understand that you are concerned about privacy. We would like to share with you what kind of information we collect and how it is handled.


Updated: 8 May 2018


  1. What this Privacy Policy covers


This is the Privacy Policy for Parla Italiano.


We are committed to being transparent on how we collect, use and protect your personal information. The data controller is Parla Italiano (referred to in this policy as “we”, “us” or “our”). We want you to be confident that the personal information you give us is safe and secure with us, and understand how we use it to offer you a better and more personalised experience on our Site.


Our Privacy Policy explains:

  • the personal information we collect;
  • how and why we collect and use your personal information;
  • why we process your personal information;
  • when and why we will disclose your personal information to other organisations;
  • the rights and choices you have when it comes to your personal information;
  • the steps we take to ensure your information is kept secure and confidential;
  • how long we will hold your information for; and
  • how to contact us.


Our Site might contain links to third-party websites that are not subject to this Privacy Policy such as Social Media sites and others.

Please make sure you read a third party’s terms and conditions and privacy policy carefully before providing any personal information on a third-party website, as we cannot accept any responsibility or liability for those third-party websites.


  1. Personal information we collect


When you register your interest in our courses or to become a client either by email or on parlaitaliano.co.uk, you may provide us with: Your personal details, including without limitation your and your company’s name, your title and your job title, your and your company’s postal and billing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, your level of Italian. If you require a class for your child we will collect their age as to offer a class for the correct age group for them.


  1. How we collect and use your personal information


We collect your email address, your first name, last name, and your current level of Italian. We use this to send you information on forthcoming courses that you have expressed an interest in.


You should not provide us with another person’s personal information. If you do so you should first ask them to read this Privacy Policy. By giving us personal information about another person you are confirming that they have given you consent to provide the personal information to us and that they understand how their details will be used.

We will periodically review your personal information to ensure that we do not keep it for longer than is permitted by law (see section 9 below).


  1. Why do we process your personal information?


We will only collect and use your personal information (as described in sections 2 and 3) in accordance with data protection laws. Our grounds for processing your personal information are that you have asked us to provide our products and services for you, such as our courses or a subscription to our newsletter/blog.


Furthermore, we may use and process some of your personal information where we have sensible and legitimate business grounds for doing so. Under European privacy laws there is a concept of “legitimate interests” as a justification for processing your personal information.

Our legitimate interests for processing your personal information are:


4.1 to enable you to access and use our services;

4.2 to communicate with you about your use of our services. For example, sending you a confirmation email, or updates on new courses available.

4.3 to send you information on new products and services available from us.


  1. Disclosure of your personal information to other organisations

The personal information that we collect when you use our services is confidential. We may disclose your personal information to a third party in the following circumstances:

5.1. Our service providers

These include:

5.1.1. Organisations who host our Sites, provide templates for our Site pages, as well as apps we use on our Site (which are designed internally by their own teams, or externally by other providers).

5.1.2. Mailchimp, our email provider and newsletter distributor.


5.2. If required or permitted to do so by law

5.3. If required to do so by any court, the Financial Conduct Authority or any other applicable regulatory, compliance, governmental or law enforcement agency

5.4. If necessary in connection with legal proceedings or potential legal proceedings;

5.5. If ownership of all or part of our Site is transferred, in which case any purchaser would only be entitled to use that information in a way consistent with this Privacy Policy.


  1. How you can change permissions

All emails or other forms of communication directly from us to you will include clear instructions on how to unsubscribe. Plus, if you don’t want to be contacted by us anymore you can email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk


Section 7 below also sets out your other information rights.


  1. Your information rights and responsibilities


7.1. You already have certain rights under existing data protection legislation, including a right to request a copy of the personal information we hold on you, if you request it in writing. From 25 May 2018 you will have the following rights:


7.1.1. Right to correct: the right to have your personal information rectified if it is inaccurate or incomplete;

7.1.2. Right to erase: the right to request that we delete or remove your personal information from our systems;

7.1.3. Right to restrict our use of your information: the right to ‘block’ us from using your personal information or limit the way in which we can use it;

7.1.4. Right to data portability: the right to request that we move, copy or transfer your personal information;

7.1.5. Right to object: the right to object to our use of your personal information including where we use it for our legitimate interests, or where we use your personal information to carry out profiling to inform our market research and user demographics. If you raise an objection we will stop processing your personal information unless very exceptional circumstances apply, in which case we will let you know why we’re continuing to process your personal information.

We will use reasonable efforts consistent with our legal duty to provide you with your rights in accordance with data protection legislation.


7.2. To make enquiries, exercise any of your rights set out in this Privacy Policy and/or make a complaint please email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or write to the Data Protection Officer at Parla Italiano, 35 Riverway, London N13 5JY, England, UK.


7.3. If you’re not satisfied with the way any complaint you make in relation to your personal information is handled by us then you may be able to refer your complaint to the relevant data protection regulator. In the UK, this is the Information Commissioner’s Office.



  1. Keeping your personal information secure


8.1. The vast majority of the personal information we hold about you is stored in the Cloud by our various service providers such as Microsoft, Google, TsoHost and MailChimp. As such, the personal information we collect from you may be transferred to and stored in countries outside of the European Economic Area (“EEA”). Different countries have different data protection and security laws and some of these do not offer the same level of protection as the UK.

8.2. We do our best to keep the information you disclose to us secure. However, we can’t guarantee its security. By using our Site you accept the inherent risks of providing information online and will not hold us responsible for any breach of security.


  1. How long do we keep your personal information?

Unless a longer retention period is required or permitted by law, we will only hold your personal information on our systems for the period necessary to fulfil the purposes outlined in this Privacy Policy or until you request it is deleted. If, having registered for any of our services, you do not use them for a reasonable time (which may vary depending on the service(s) you’ve registered for) we may contact you to ensure you’re still happy to receive communications from us. Even if we delete your personal information it may persist on back-up or archival media for legal, tax or regulatory purposes.


  1. How to contact us

Our Data Protection Officer is Parla Italiano’s head: Laura Scaramella.

If you have any queries relating to our use of your personal information or any other related data protection questions, please email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or write to the Data Protection Officer at Parla Italiano, 35 Riverway, London N13 5JY, England, UK.


  1. Changes

This policy is effective from 8 May. We may, from time to time, make changes to this Privacy Policy to reflect any changes to our privacy practices in accordance with changes to legislation, best practice or Site enhancements. We will let you know what these changes are by posting them to this page. Where the changes are significant, we may also choose to email you with the new details and get your consent to make these changes where required by law. It is your responsibility as a user to make sure that you are aware of changes posted on this page, by checking for any changes on a regular basis. Changes posted on this page will become effective as soon as they are posted.


Effective as of 8 May 2018

Successful language learning: learning from the children

The fundamental elements of learning a language are only a few: being exposed to it by hearing lots of it and putting it into practise by speaking at any opportunity are two of them. But the most important is a fearless and trusting mind.

When I was at school, I studied German for years, however, the only phrase I can say is ‘und so weiter’, which means etcetera. But why after so many years can I only say such a useless phrase? This is because it is the only phrase that my teacher used to say in German when teaching us. We never got to hear much German nor did we speak it in class.
These are clearly great disadvantages when learning a language as hearing it continuously in context underpins learning. Speaking it is another pillar of a successful methodology. Our adults and children classes are taught in the target language and are given plenty of opportunities for speaking.
Children, unlike adults, are less preoccupied with understanding every single word, so long as they can follow the general meaning, they will be interested. Their attitude generates a virtuous circle, the more they hear then the more they understand. This is the natural way of learning our mother tongue. Context is most important, for example, if the child doesn’t know what the word ‘apple’ means, if the parent holds an apple in their hand as they talk, the child will learn the word.
Adult learners have the same ability but most tend to question and focus on what they don’t understand. They demand to understand every single word and feel lost when they don’t. In the previous example, they hear a sort of ‘bla, bla, bla, mela’ and rather than focus on the meaning of ‘mela=apple’ which is clear from the context, they focus on the ‘bla, bla, bla’. This becomes exhausting and ineffective.
Successful adult learners trust themselves and have a mental openness similar to that of children. They are fearless and let the language soaks into their mind, capturing the essentials and more. If you are interested in learning a language, let the children teach you to be fearless.

Our new Italian classes for children and adults start soon. For more info please visit: www.parlaitaliano.co.uk, email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or phone 07941092593

Italian is the language of music

This beautiful language is the language chosen by Mozart for some of his most famous operas. It is the language that sings and it has been associated with music for more than a thousand years.

Many people fall in love with the Italian language by going on holiday in Italy; enjoying the beautiful country, the warm weather, the sea, the city of art and perhaps by listening to Italians.  I have heard of an English speaker who believes that everything ordinary becomes rather special if said in Italian: the modest kitchen towel is asciughino, to rock or swing is dondolare, to whistle is fischiettare and garbage is spazzatura.

I suppose that when you experience mostly blue skies and warm weather you might be inclined to feel positive and happy; and most things might feel and sound better. However, the musical element of the Italian language is actually achieved by the fact that most words end with a vowel giving a singing quality to the language.

But Italian is also the language of music in the sense that Italians have greatly influenced music and its language and so many musical terms such as allegro, forte, andante, etc are in Italian.

It was an Italian, Guido D’Arezzo, who invented the modern musical notation in the medieval era. Later on, the Italians dominated the musical scene during the Renaissance and the Baroque periods. They established Italian as the language of music in the same way as, for example, English is used today in most countries for IT and new technology terms. So if you play an instrument you will be very familiar with Italian terms such as piano, presto, sonata, aria, etc. Italian has also given many instruments their names: piano, viola, cello (violoncello), etc.

Join one of our classes to take a dip into this beautiful language, you will have the chance to hear the real language, you will practise speaking from day one and learn or improve your Italian. And even if singing is not required we might listen to Italian music from time to time. Ciao!


Thank you for contacting us…

we'll be in touch very soon.

in the meantime, here's a little of what our current students think of our courses...

"We've thoroughly enjoyed our Italian classes so far, and feel that we've learnt a huge amount in a short space of time. Laura is a wonderful teacher - patient and encouraging, she is able to communicate new learning clearly and effectively. The lessons are always engaging and well-paced, with a good balance of new input and revision that's delivered via a range of different media. A varied mix of audio recordings, news articles and discussion exercises helps students develop a broad range of skills, and ensures that lessons never get boring. Grammar points are explained clearly and succinctly, with well-chosen examples. Above all, the classes are great fun, and we've often found we've grasped new concepts without even realising! Overall we're highly impressed with the course, and are delighted to have signed up for the follow-on elementary classes."
Zoe Boyd-Clack and Simon Jones

What people say

I have taken many Italian courses including with private tutors. This first course has not only held my interest, but it’s also made me look forward to part two! My confidence in reading and speaking Italian has increased greatly and

Rashna Bhadha-Ryan, Southgate N14

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our Italian classes so far, and feel that we’ve learnt a huge amount in a short space of time. Laura is a wonderful teacher – patient and encouraging, she is able to communicate new learning clearly and

Zoe Boyd-Clack and Simon Jones

The course and teaching methods are excellent. Each session is well structured with elements of both revision and new material. Teaching methods vary widely and generally incorporate fun exercises, listening and language practice. The atmosphere is encouraging and light with

Jackie Bishop, Palmers Green N13

The course has been really enjoyable. As an adult learner I was unsure of what to expect and what format a lesson would take (It’s a long time since I was at school!) the variety of topics covered and the

Jackie Farrell, Palmers Green N13

I have been working with Laura and her language business, Parla Italiano, for over 3 years. In my dealings with Laura, she has not only shown to be very professional, reliable and approachable but also she understands the business and

Luca Piccini, Country Manger, Lavazza UK (now Asia Pacific Director at Luigi Lavazza S.p.a.)

Laura is a fantastic teacher who has contagious energy, passion and enthusiasm. Her lessons are demanding and always great fun. Conversation is easy – she is bright and intelligent and always interesting to talk to. You learn fast. Brava Professoressa!

Rory Conwell, Chairman, BeautySpotter

I took classes with Laura for almost a year. She is an excellent teacher, very passionate and enthusiastic about the Italian language. She always brings fun into the lessons, making it very enjoyable. She motivates all her students through her

Emile Laubscher

Laura always makes the lesson interesting by doing different things. She teaches using examples that will come useful in everyday situations. I used to be worried about listening comprehension but with Laura I like doing this activity as I realise

Hannah Roberts

Laura inspires with her infectious enthusiasm. I always finish a lesson feeling upbeat about my progress having often started feeling dim. Her emphasis on understanding and being understood is not at the expense of developing a grasp of the technicalities.

Dr Gregory Battle (beginner student)

The main problem with most private teaching lessons is the tedium they can create and the fact that they are usually exam-oriented. Yet, Laura manages to avoid all the barriers that can hinder the learning process. Having had quite long

Nicolas Sakiotis (beginner student)

I have been studying Italian with Laura for about a year. She is an extremely effective teacher. Her approach was consistent from the beginning and prompted me to speak Italian as much as I could. Over time with her support

Jason Maratos (beginner student)

Laura is a great teacher. The lesson are both fun and structured and my confidence speaking the language has increased a lot on account of her enthusiasm and support. Although the lessons are structured, she ensures that we don’t just

Megan Schuster (intermediate student)

Laura is an understanding, helpful, and very cheerful teacher! She manages to adapt herself to the student’s individual needs and learning abilities. She is always prepared for the lesson and emphasizes the importance of variety during the teaching hour by

Milena Pappas (advanced student)

I started taking lessons from Laura after completing a one month immersion course for beginners  in Italian.  I work and travel with my work and I find it difficult to attend regular, scheduled lessons.  Laura is very flexible with the

Ann Gordon (beginner student)

I have been studying Italian with Laura for one year now, after having a break from the language for over 10 years Laura was great in tailoring the lesson to my needs, revisiting long forgotten grammar and building confidence speaking

Olivia Erby (beginner student)

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