IMG_0494_cut.jpgIf you are a migrant or refugee and you have been in Italy for a short while, you may have found it difficult to learn the language. Whether you are preparing to enroll in school, apply for a job or just buy food at the market, learning Italian can make your life easier.

But sometimes it is hard to know where to start. That is why we have put together some language learning options for you all in one place. 

You can use this article to learn more about:

  • Online and in person Italian classes
  • Italian language levels for permits of stay and Italian citizenship
  • Italian language certifications

Where to learn Italian

You can learn Italian online and in person.

Online learning 

Online learning platforms allow you flexibility to learn at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want.

  • Duolingo and Busuu are very popular free language learning apps.
  • iTALIANA is a platform where you can find another overview with different free online opportunities collected by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
  • Loescher is a platform where you can find exercises, learning materials and podcasts according to your level. Here you can find learning materials for Ukrainian and Russian speakers.
  • Rai Educational is a platform containing useful multimedia learning materials.
  • Co.d’I.Ci - Corso d’Italiano per la Cittadinanza is a platform to subscribe to online classes of Italian language, organized by the University of Naples L’Orientale.
  • BBC offers basic Italian classes to English speakers for free. Their website includes video tutorials, a guide to essential phrases and even a “BBC Learn Italian” Facebook page.

In-person courses 

You can learn Italian at a CPIA or organization that offers free classes to migrants. If you are in a SAI or CAS reception center, you should receive Italian classes too.


CPIA (Centers for Adult Education) are public centers that provide educational activities for adults, among which free Italian language courses. Each main province in Italy has its own CPIA and provides classes on different days and times, depending on your level. Students will have to pay around 20-30 euros.

To find the CPIA closer to you, search on Google ‘CPIA + [city]’ (e.g. CPIA Milano). Big cities can have more than one CPIA. On the CPIA website you can find how to enroll, but usually the portal used is this one here.

Local organizations

Depending on where you are, there may be organizations that offer free courses.






  • Scuole Migranti, collects on its website various opportunities for free courses of Italian language in the Lazio region. You can find the location closer to where you live and contact the center to request for more information. 


Italian level for long-term documents

You have to prove your Italian level if you want to apply for:

Proof of Italian for the EU long-term permit of stay

To get the EU long-term permit of stay (‘permesso UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo’ in Italian, better known as ex carta di soggiorno), you have to prove you have an A2 level of knowledge of Italian. 

You can prove your A2 Italian level in one of these ways:

  • Italian test to be booked online to the local Prefettura through this platform here, by using your SPID - you have to pass the exam and the Prefettura will communicate the results to the Questura
  • Language certification of at least A2 level from an accredited institutions (see below)
  • Language certification from a CPIA stating that you have reached at least an A2 level after a course
  • Diploma from middle school (‘terza media’ in Italian) or high school in Italy, including one obtained at a CPIA center.

You do not need to prove your Italian language if:

  • You hold international protection
  • You are attending a university degree in Italian or a PhD in Italy
  • You are under 14 years old
  • You have certified language learning impairments


Proof of Italian to get citizenship

To get Italian citizenship on the basis of marriage or residence, you have to prove a B1 knowledge of Italian.

You have to prove your B1 Italian level through:

  • Language certification of at least B1 level achieved at an accredited institution (see below)
  • Language certification from a CPIA stating that you have reached at least a B1 level
  • Italian educational qualification (‘titolo di studio’ in Italian) recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education or of Foreign Affairs of any level (primary, middle, high school or university degree), including one obtained at a CPIA center.

You do not need to prove your Italian language if:

  • You hold the EU long-term permit 
  • You have certified language learning impairments


Italian language official certifications

The exams are based on four different competences: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Before enrolling in a course or choosing to take an exam, you may also want to check out here the Europass language reference framework to understand what each level of language proficiency entails. A1 represents the most basic level, while C2 is comparable to a mother tongue knowledge. 

According to your level, you can take the exam at an official accredited center. If you wish to know the specific costs, application procedures and exam dates, you will need to contact the centre closer to where you live. There are several exam sessions throughout the year, when you apply for the exam you can also choose when to take it. 

The following fee-based exam types are useful to get the permesso di lungo periodo or Italian citizenship:

Happy learning!

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