Why Study Italian?

Venice, Italy © 2000 by Deborah Parker

A knowledge of Italian is important for people in business, the arts, technology and many professions. It is also useful for high school and college students planning careers in art history, music, linguistics, education and international relations.

  • Students preparing for the SAT who have studied Italian tend to score higher on vocabulary and grammar. The reason is simple: Italian developed from Latin and an estimated 60 percent of the English vocabulary also comes from Latin.
  • Italian is the fourth foreign language most spoken in U.S. homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is also spoken in Switzerland, parts of Africa, the Balkans, and the island of Malta.
  • Italy is one of the top five economies in the world, ahead of Great Britain, Russia, and China. It is also a leading member of the G7 group of the wealthiest democracies in the world.
  • An estimated 7,500 American companies do business with Italy and more than 1,000 U.S. firms have offices in Italy, including IBM, General Electric, Motorola, Citibank, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
  • Italy is a world leader in machine tool manufacturing, with advanced technologies in robotics, electromechanical machinery, shipbuilding, space engineering, construction machinery, and transportation equipment. Many of these firms have offices in the United States.
  • Italy's economy is changing: state-owned companies are becoming privatized, opening up the Italian market to American companies and professions in aerospace, transportation, insurance, finance, shipping, telecommunications, and other commerce.
Positano, Italy © 2000 by Deborah Parker
  • With the Italian market opening, American companies like AT&T and IBM will be establishing ties with Italian companies in the areas of cable TV, international cellular telephone systems, the Internet and more, and will need employees who speak Italian and English.
  • In 1996, only 170,000 households in Italy were connected to the Internet, compared to 25 million in the U.S. American companies expanding in Italy have a great demand for software designers, systems engineers, technical support, marketers and managers who speak Italian and English.
  • Italy is a world leader in the culinary arts, interior design, fashion, graphic design, furniture design, etc. Those planning careers in such fields greatly benefit from knowing Italian.
  • Italy has long been a magnet for the tourism industry: In 1996, 55 million people visited Italy. It is predicted that in the Jubilee Year 2000, Rome alone will host over 30 million visitors.
  • Young Americans who want to become physicians, dentists, and veterinarians, but who cannot afford the tuition at American schools, can study at Italian universities for a fraction of the cost. Their degrees are valid in the U.S.
  • Art historians need Italian. According to UNESCO (the cultural and educational agency of the United Nations), over 60 percent of the world's art treasures are found in Italy.









Adapted from a list compiled by the Italian Embassy.

This page maintained by the webmaster.
Last modified July 17, 2000.

Copyright © 2000, University of Virginia Dept. Spanish, Italian & Portuguese. All rights reserved.