Where to learn Italian in the Bay Area
December 30, 2006 12:45 AM   Subscribe

What's the best places to learn Italian in the Bay Area?

I'm an intern with Slow Food in San Francisco, and as Slow Food originates in Italy, and I'd like to study at the University of Gastronomic Science, I'd like to start learning some Italian. I can, of course, google for Italian classes in the area, but I would like to know if anyone has any particular positive or negative advice.

I work a regular 9-to-5, and I don't own a car, but I am pretty capable of getting places if I need to. Hit me.
posted by scrim to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ugh. I can actually speak English, by the way. That was meant to be "best place", minus the "s". Silly after midnight.
posted by scrim at 12:51 AM on December 30, 2006

City College?
posted by subaruwrx at 1:02 AM on December 30, 2006

I don't have any experience learning Italian at these places, but you did ask for some ideas.

Here are the details of CCSF's Italian program. They have evening and Saturday classes, and multiple types of class: I'd give them a call and talk about what your goals are, and they'd probably steer you right.

SF also has the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, which has all sorts of cultural events, as well as this language school.

I also imagine, though not being an SF native I am unsure, that any number of North Beach restauranteurs are of Italian extraction and might be happy to provide you with some tutoring, or at least some informal practice chatting. No finer way to spend a Saturday than nursing a Peroni, prosciutto, and the Italian soccer match on RAI satellite, right?

In addition to classes, which I think are a great idea (IAALT: I am a language teacher), try and surround yourself with Italian. The Italian Cultural Center has a library full of Italian media - one year of membership for $40 entitles you to (quoting the website):

• subscription to our newsletter
• mailed invitations to all our events
• free video rentals from our video library
• free access to our book library
• invitations to “members-only” events
• email newsletter and updates

Finally, I live in a city where my college French is useless, but not wanting it to deteriorate, I joined up at the library of the French Cultural Center here, and in addition to having free access to a huge number of French films, I've met lots of folks who are also trying to keep up their language skills. I can't fit their classes into my schedule, but just having that access to the media has helped my plusparfaits not atrophy from disuse.

Selamat sukses!
posted by mdonley at 2:12 AM on December 30, 2006

I have friends who have taken language classes at CCSF and said they were pretty useless.

And I'm not sure North Beach is a great bet -- people that many generations removed from Italy are generally not really speaking the same language as the rest of Italy anymore, if that makes any sense. (Granted, my experience comes mostly from Boston, where the Italian section of town really did have its own pidgin, but I do live in SF now and North Beach seems reasonably similar.)

I wish I had positive recommendations -- I'd also love to study Italian again.
posted by occhiblu at 9:49 AM on December 30, 2006

I've taken Spanish at City College and my husband has taken Italian. (He thought Claudio Concin was very good.) The evening classes vary a great deal in quality based on who is teaching and how big the class is. Even with a great instructor, you won't learn much in a huge class unless you get together separately with another student to study and practice. If you visit an evening class the first time and it's crowded, it might be a lot less crowded a week later.

We both dropped out of the evening classes and did early-morning ones instead -- normal college courses with plenty of participation, weekly tests, homework, drills. There were lots of people who weren't full-time students. There were usually about 15-20 students per class. You can definitely learn a language at City College if you get the right teachers and practice a lot on your own.

Students who are just satisfying a language requirement are more likely to take Spanish; in the Italian classes, you'll find more people who actually want to be there, so some of typical criticisms of bad CCSF Spanish instruction don't apply to Italian.
posted by wryly at 12:05 PM on December 30, 2006

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