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Italian in Year 1

Post A-Level (Option B)

Course Outline

The Part IA Post A-Level course at Cambridge is designed to develop your existing knowledge and skills to a high level of proficiency. The language teaching is complemented by a further course (Texts and Contexts), which provides the opportunity to study some of the finest works in Italian literary culture, along with some aspects of Italian linguistics. You can find details of this course on this page: Paper It 1: Texts and Contexts.

Summary of Teaching

Each week the Department offers two hours of language teaching for the written language papers. The Use of Italian class focuses on developing the fluency, accuracy, and scope of your written Italian through a wide range of linguistic exercises. The Translation/ Commentary class, based on the exercises of translation from Italian into English and linguistic/stylistic commentary, aims to enhance your understanding of Italian and your appreciation of the expressive possibilities of the language. Both these classes are taught in groups of around 8 to 10 students. Oral supervisions are held weekly in smaller groups of 2 to 4 students. 

Students are encouraged to supplement this formal teaching by independent study, for which the Faculty offers a variety of resources, including the Language Centre, the Computer-Assisted Language Learning Facility, and TV and Video viewing facilities. You will also find links to some helpful online resources further down this page. 

Teaching for the 'Texts and Contexts' paper will include lectures and seminars on each of the set texts, as well as weekly supervisions in small groups (2-3 students). In addition, the IA Translation/Commentary class will be directed in part to preparation for the commentary element of this paper.

Before you arrive

During the course of your first year at Cambridge, you will be guided to develop reading, writing, translation and speaking skills in Italian. You will also study the more complex grammatical structures of the language, having already acquired a sound basic knowledge of it with your A-level course. It is therefore very important that you spend some time revising and updating your language skills before coming to Cambridge, in order to be able to make the most of the language courses that will see you working alongside Part IB ex-option A students (ex-beginners).


The required texts are:

  • Italiano e inglese allo specchio: eserciziari per anglofoni - problemi ed errori di interferenza, Bertoni S., Loescher, 2014
  • In Altre Parole, Lahiri, J. , Guanda 2016/ In other words, Bloomsbury 2015 (preferably the Italian version)

It is also highly advisable that you get hold of the following reference grammar book:

  • Soluzioni, A practical Grammar of Contemporary Italian, De Rome, D., Hodder Education.

This is the recommended course book for the ab-initio level, and is a very comprehensive grammar book that will work very well as a reference grammar book all through your time at Cambridge. This manuale di grammatica is now in its 4th edition, but previous editions are equally suitable for your work of revision and practice. (Please also note that the MMLL library and many College libraries will hold copies of this text).

Below is a list of suggested reading that you might find of interest and helpful in your work of revision as you prepare for Cambridge. All titles recommended in the list below are available from The Italian Bookshop. Students of the Department of Italian are entitled to a discount:

  • 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. 
  • For further practice, have a look at the exercises available on
  • A reference grammar of modern Italian, Maiden, M. Robustelli, C., Hodder Education, 2007, 2nd edition.
  • Practising Italian Grammar - a Workbook, Bianchi, A., Boscolo, C., Hodder Education, 2004. This is a very comprehensive grammar reference book accompanied by its workbook, ideal for revision and expansion.
  • Modern Italian Grammar, A practical guide, Proudfoot, A., Cardo, F., Routledge, 2005, 2nd edition. This grammar book looks at language from a functional point of view (language in specific situations, rather than rules), and can be helpful to look at language in use.
  • Any title of your choice from Italiano facile, 2 o  livello (intermedio), Alma Edizioni, You are invited to refresh your Italian by enjoying reading and listening to any of the titles on the list. The stories use about 1000 words of vocabulary and are a great way to revise and start expanding your language skills.

Visiting Italy

If you have the opportunity, do go to Italy, either to attend a language course, to work, or just to refresh your experience of the language and culture first hand. The Department has some information about language courses in Italy, and particularly about the British Institute of Florence, with whom we have links: British Institute of Florence.


During your study of Italian at Cambridge you will rely on the use of good language dictionaries. Below is a list of recommended titles:


  • Zanichelli Il Ragazzini 2023. 
  • Zanichelli Il Ragazzini-Biagi Concise 2020.
  • Garzanti Grande dizionario Hazon 2020. 
  • De Agostini Maxi dizionario inglese 2017
  • Oxford Paravia 2009
  • Oxford Italian dictionary App


  • Devoto G.-Oli C., Il Dizionario della lingua italiana, a cura di L. Serianni e M. Trifone, Firenze, Le Monnier, ed. 2004-2005 (con CD-Rom)
  • Giacomo Devoto e Gian Carlo Oli, Nuovo Devoto Oli Compatto. Dizionario fondamentale della lingua italiana, Firenze, Le Monnier 2002
  • Italiano compatto. Dizionario della lingua italiana, a cura di A. Cattana e M. T. Nesci Milano, Zanichelli 2003
  • Lo Zingarelli minore. Dizionario della lingua italiana, a cura di M. Cannella, Milano, Zanichelli 2001
  • T. De Mauro, Il dizionario di italiano compatto, Paravia, 2004

Web resources

Online dictionaries

Web resources of general interest

Culture and Linguistics: Texts and Contexts

The most helpful preparation for the literature lies in independent reading of the set texts, with close attention to linguistic detail. For a first reading of Dante it is best to use a facing-page translation in prose or verse. Please see suggestions for reading on the page of Paper It. 1

Examination Papers

At the end of their first year, students will take three examination papers. Two of these are language papers (ITB1 and ITB2), and the third is a literature paper (IT1)

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