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While there is a large Italian diaspora in most Australian cities, strangely, the choice to learn Italian isn't made by many high school students in this country.

That's partly because not that many students decide to study languages at all in their final years of high school.

2019 data from the  Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority shows that just 10% of Australian students took language courses in Year 12.

Of this small percentage, around 20% learn Japanese, 20% Chinese, 18% French and only around 10% learn Italian. The rest learn languages like Vietnamese or Spanish.

This means that in most states, around 500-800 students sit final exams for their Italian course, bringing the country-wide total to probably less than 5000 students.

That number falls even more when looking at university classes, where language learning is even less common. Most universities in Australia don't even offer Italian classes beyond basic levels.

This is unfortunate because Italian is a beautiful language that feels like poetry when you speak it out loud. There are so many reasons people in Australia and beyond decide to start learning the language of Dante.

You may be a second-generation Italian-Australian, and want to get more in contact with your culture and your roots.

Maybe you're obsessed with Italian cuisine and food culture, and want to learn the language so you can study cooking in Italy.

No matter why you're studying Italian, you're probably eligible to do some sort of exam to prove the level of your skills in grammar, vocabulary, speaking, reading and more.

Exam certificates are a great way to show that you have spent the time and done the work to understand, read, speak and write Italian to a certain level.

You may be happy with your Italian classes at school, or you may want to hire a native speaking private tutor to help you prepare yourself as best as possible.

Either way, our guide to Italian exams can help you know which exam to take, what to expect and how best to prepare...

 

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Learning Italian and Preparing for Year Year 12 Exams

In most schools in Australia, learners need to make the decision to study languages pretty early on in their school years. The majority of students start in Year 7 and continue language courses throughout.

While learners can pick up a language in later years, it can be much more difficult and you generally need to prove your abilities before you can be accepted into classes.

The main reason for this: practice.

Languages are not the same type of study as say, history or economics. In those subjects, if you miss some of the basics, you can still understand some of what's going on and catch up.

When studying a language, if you miss basic grammar and vocabulary, you'll probably have no idea what's going on in higher-level classes.

For example, can you understand this sentence?

Nel futuro vorrei andare in Italia a lavorare . 

This is an intermediate-level sentence that uses grammar like a conditional phrase, an articulated preposition and more.

But if you don't know basic ideas like what an article is (in English 'the' 'a' 'an', in Italian 'il' and 'la'), how can you know what an articulated preposition is.

Or if you missed the lesson about conjugating verbs in Italian by using the stem and changing the ending, then you won't know how to express conditional ideas.

The point is that languages from Spanish to Chinese take time to learn because after you learn something, you need to practice and practice until you can build on that idea.

So if you're already in Year 10 and have never studied Italian before, you might be better off taking lessons at a language school or with a private Italian course.

How your final mark is decided

You may be studying Italian for the love of music, culture, fashion or art or you simply want points to boost your ATAR.

In any case, every English-speaking student can do a good job throughout their studies and on their final exam.

Languages are not federally regulated in Australia, so each state has its own way of teaching and testing learners, but they generally all follow a set form.

Students are assessed throughout their final two years of high school. You may have to speak or give a presentation, read an article and answer questions or write a formal essay.

All of these assessments will go towards your score at the end of your final year, meaning that all learners have a good chance of getting a fair mark, as long as they practice and work throughout the two years.

While in all states your final exam is not the be-all and end-all of your mark, in some it is still very important. For example, in NSW, it's only worth 30% or your final grade, while in Victoria, it's worth 50%.

To find out how your state weighs different assessments, you can look at their curriculum websites. For example, find information about exams in WA at the School Curriculum and Standards Authority.

So what will your final exam probably look like?

General Italian Exam Format

Each state exam is made up of four sections that all assess your grammar knowledge (verb, form, tense etc.), vocabulary (phrases, verbs, word collocations etc.) and how well you understand and speak:

Well, every state has four components in their examination, all of which will test your grammar (verb, tense, form etc.), vocabulary (irregular verbs, common phrases, word collocations etc.)  as well as your ability to understand, write and speak:

The components are:

  • Reading (multiple-choice, matching exercises and short answer questions etc. based on texts)
  • Listening (multiple-choice, matching exercises and short answer questions etc. based on audio)
  • Writing (one or more written pieces responding to different prompts and writing in different styles)
  • Speaking (asking and answering questions, giving opinions and longer pieces of speech)

In some states, the components are combined into one exam paper, while others require students to take four separate, smaller tests.

If you look in your textbook, you'll notice that each chapter has exercises and resources that work on these individual parts of the language.

Your lessons and the resources you use will be an important practice for each part of the exam, with each book chapter helping you build on what you already know.

All of these sections are difficult, but the part that most students are generally quite nervous about is the oral examination.

This part of the test generally takes around 10 to 15 minutes and features a general conversation and a more formal discussion section.

In the conversational section, examiners will interview you about yourself and test whether your level is high to talk in an easy way with native speakers.

They can ask anything from personal facts to your opinions about different issues, and you need the vocabulary and grammar knowledge to be able to answer quickly and naturally.

Some example questions could be:

  • Descrivi una bella cena che hai fatto recentemente.- Describe a nice dinner you've had recently.
  • Come sarebbe la tua vacanza ideale?- What would your holiday be like?
  • Secondo te, i giovani di oggi utilizzano troppo la technologia?- In your opinion, do young people today use technology too much?

After that, speakers will move onto a more formal discussion, which often responds to resources such as a photo, audio or story.

In some states, learners are given a certain period of free time on the day of the test to prepare some ideas and note down any important word, verb or phrases before they speak.

In others, students know the topic well in advance and must use school lessons to prepare a short speech. 

A good example of this is Victoria, where students use lessons to prepare a speech based on a set topic. Some past topics were:

  • Italian women in history
  • The world around us
  • Italian-speaking communities

Once you finish discussing the topic, the examiners will ask a few questions to kno

After you speak about your topic, the examiner will ask you a few more questions. Once you've completed all parts of the examination, you're done!

 

Exams outside of high school

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Jon

As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.