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ITA1: Use of Italian

This course aims to present the whole range of grammatical structures of the Italian language to ab-initio students, in order to develop an active understanding and use of the Italian language in a variety of registers, including literary. By its very nature the course runs at an intensive pace and is supported by carefully designed language material both on paper and online, that enables students to acquire, develop and reinforce the basic structures and vocabulary of Italian.

Aims and objectives: 

On successful completion of the course students are able to recognize and use correctly all the basic structures of the Italian language from noun gender and number, to the most complex structures of subjunctive. Students are able to use Italian in everyday situations both at a formal and at an informal level, having acquired a good basic vocabulary and the means to expand upon it. They are able to understand and interact with a variety of textual material, selected in order to present different registers and styles of language. Students practice through guided and free language production exercises such as fill-in-the-gaps and multiple choice grammar exercises, and writing exercises such as summary and composition. Students also acquire the basic skills to translate into Italian, accurately and idiomatically.

Course materials: 

Below is a list of the ab-initio language course textbooks and of suggested reading that can be of interest and help. In order to facilitate your contact with the Italian language you are strongly advised to familiarize yourself with the basic rules of sounds, spelling, noun and verb structure.

The main preparation you can do for this course is on Language:

The ab-initio language course textbooks are:

  • Soluzioni, A practical Grammar of Contemporary Italian, De Rome, D., Hodder Education, 4th edition, 2018
  • Attiva il Lessico, livello 1 & 2 (A2/B1 & B1/B2), Le Monnier, 2013
  • Spazio civiltà, Civiltà italiana per stranieri, Medaglia, C., Medaglia F., Loescher, 2013

You should purchase all the coursebooks before you come up to Cambridge, together with a good bilingual dictionary (recommendations below).

If you buy these from The Italian Bookshop you are entitled to a discount.

  • If you have not been taught much grammar before, you may find the following useful: English Grammar for Students of Italian, Primorac, K. and Adorni, S., 2011,Olivia & Hill Press, 3rd edition. This is a particularly helpful reference book that can help in dealing with the grammatical and syntactical terminology involved in the teaching of language at Cambridge.

Also, please make sure you work with the basic communicative material Just in Time Essentials available on the Language Centre LC Online resources (Please note this is protected access material, so you will need your University of Cambridge Raven pass activated):

Bilingual dictionaries (suitable for your first year)

  • Collins-Sansoni Italian Dictionary
  • Il Grande Dizionario Garzanti inglese 2003 + CD ROM Oxford-Paravia Italian Dictionary ed. by C. Bareggi, Oxford University Press, 2001
  • Oxford-Paravia Italian Dictionary, ed. by Cristina Bareggi, Oxford University Press, 2001
Teaching and learning: 

Students have regular contact with the language teacher, working in groups of 15-20 students in two lectures weekly, and in smaller groups (6-8 students) for one consolidation class weekly.

In addition to the lectures and classes students have weekly/fortnightly supervisions in small groups (usually of three students), which ensure that they receive personal help with any problems they may have with regard to language and or the study of literature.

All ab-initio classes and supervisions are taught by native speakers. 

Please see here for the ITA1 Moodle site. 


Formative assessment

Short informal tests may be conducted periodically in class to monitor progress.

Progress Test: Students take a 2-hour test on grammar, vocabulary, translation, at the beginning of Lent Term.

Feedback on the above tests is offered both through corrections by the teacher, and on the dedicated section on the university virtual learning environment.


This is a written language paper that tests the use of all the basic language structures of Italian through grammar exercises, translation from English and composition in Italian.

The examination lasts three hours.

Course Contacts: 
Dott. Claudia Domenici, Senior Language Teaching Officer