What’s the difference between coaching and teaching languages?


If you like learning a language alone, this is not for you. If you agree with me that language is a living organism and that you need to continuously nourish, train and eventually use it, for travel, work, romance), you can continue reading and, I hope,  enjoy this article.

In this post, I explain the benefits of working with an Italian Language Coach and switch to a more holistic mindset when it comes to learning Italian (or any other language).  

Use some of your precious time to read it, if

  • You ever felt overwhelmed by tons of Italian material, textbooks, Apps, short stories, etc…
  • You ever felt a lack of direction in your Italian learning journey
  • You are tired of juggling promising Italian learning tools
  • You have yearned for honest feedback and guidance
  • You wish you could easily bridge the gap between the Italian you know and the Italian you speak


If your answer is YES to one or more questions,  this is for you!

How is an Italian Language Coach different from a traditional teacher?


1. “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves”. Galileo Galilei.

Teachers have trained most of us our entire lives. A teacher is someone with a broad knowledge that they pass on to you. Mostly, it is a one-way interaction. The teacher gives, the student receives.

Wait? Is this the most efficient way to learn anything, especially as an adult?

Think about when you learned to do something, at any stage of your life, like baking or building a house of cards. Think it through. Were you taught to do it by your teacher, or did you learn it by doing it?

An Italian Language Coach is someone that, instead of merely teaching, helps you to find efficient ways to build up your house of cards independently, gives inspiring inputs, and guides you toward your learning goals, for instance, to become fluent in Italian.

A teacher uses standardized techniques. A Language Coach’s mission is to understand the individual student’s needs and passions and then guides and inspires them to achieve their goals.

An excellent Italian teacher also uses coaching techniques. Great language teachers are coaches too.


2. Language Coaching is language learning for grown-ups. Why?

As an adult, you are not a tabula rasa.

Your mind is not the sponge it used to be when you were a child, ready to absorb any given notion. Your brain is now pretty selective. An adult’s mind is, especially, more inclined to retain what is attractive and impactful. The notions must be meaningful and relevant to you to cement in your mind as you absorb Italian or any other language in an effective way.

Now, assuming you were to take a traditional lesson with a textbook. Do you care what Luigi and Lucia are talking about in the dialogues? I would not.  Learning like this does not produce significant and lasting results.

If your interest is not stimulated, your brain won’t retain the piece of information you are given. Don’t torture yourself learning something you dislike.

If you haven’t ever heard about the forgetting curve, have a look at my article here.

3.  One teaching approach is not enough

Everyone is unique. Have you ever wondered how you learn best? Every one of us has different strengths and learning styles. A New Zealand scientist has dug through the topic and defined three main learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  Before you ever start to learn anything, you should think through how you like learning and discuss this with your Italian teacher or Italian language coach.

A good Language Coach will take into account your learning style and design your learning experience around it.

4. Identifying your goal and making sure you achieve it

As an adult, you have already completed your school education and launched your career or family. Life is hectic these days and time is scarce. Learning a language is a long process and before you decide to dedicate your precious time to a life-changing endeavour,  you want to be crystal clear about your goal.

A Language Coach will work in a way to help you define your goal in terms of language learning and will create paths for you to reach it. A Language Coach will also guide you in the times where you see obstacles and lose motivation in your Italian language journey.

In a nutshell, working with an Italian Language Coach will be your energy buzz when you feel demotivated or frustrated about continuing to learn.

5. You want to have fun with the language

Don’t let the internet overwhelm you. The internet is full of great and free Italian learning material. Some of it is excellent, some is great, some is not so great. Be picky and jealous of your time. Don’t let poor learning methods take away the incredible pleasure of learning Italian.

A Language Coach will help you to choose adequate materials for your interests and learning style and will offer you the chance to revisit the learning strategies as many times as you wish.

The good thing about language coaching is that it implies constant feedback and evaluation. You will never be faced with a stall, rather with a challenge.

The really good thing is that you are placed at the core of the journey. Following a standardized course is not an option. Nobody will impose on you what to learn, you will choose based on your passions and inspirations.

Benefits of working with a Language Coach while learning Italian

  • You trigger your brain to express its full potential in terms of language learning
  • You combine your hobbies with Italian language learning
  • You take full responsibility for your projects, further developing  yourself
  • You receive quality guidance and feedback
  • You get sound advice and motivation when your energy slows down

How does being in excellent shape sound to you?

I like to compare my job as an Italian Language Coach with one of a personal trainer.

Let’s assume you’ve always dreamed of being in excellent physical shape. You can decide to take the easy path: get a six-month membership at the local gym,  drop in a couple of times a week, and skip whenever life becomes hectic. Has this ever lead to fruitful results?

The second path is the one achievers usually take: they hire a personal trainer that prepares a tailored training plan according to their specific needs and goals and who helps them to form the habit of training regularly.  

Apply the same approach to Italian Language Coaching and you will get the same stellar results (without sweating!)

How does it work money-wise?

At this point, I know that someone would object by saying,  “Ok, but what if I can’t afford personal training? Am I bound to fail?” I think hiring a personal trainer or a Language Coach is more money-wise than ever.

Let’s say you pay a certain amount for a 6-month membership or language school. The quantity of lessons sounds appealing to you, but are they really effective? What if you commit to a two-month language coaching program, pay the same amount, have better results, and also save time that can be used to grow or cultivate other hobbies?

Coaching is about helping students become independent learners. How cost-effective does that sound?


What about enhancing your creativity and set you yourself up for excellent results?

Language Coaching is not for everyone. You need to have the stamina for it, as you won’t be able to delegate tasks to your teacher anymore.  You will need to take full responsibility for your growth as an Italian language learner.

The benefits of such an approach are countless!

The students I have coached have:

  • Formed the habit of learning Italian consistently, meaning they have begun progressing steadily and significantly.
  • Enhanced their creativity and enriched their Italian vocabulary
  • Grown their self-esteem, as they do the vast majority of the job  
  • Stopped showing frustrations with the lessons
  • Created their own way of learning Italian and achieved their full potential – a  costless skill they can apply to as many other foreign languages as they wish to.
  • Reduced the actual time that they use to learn
  • Embraced the quality over quantity attitude or the 80/20 Pareto law

If you got the stamina, go for it.

Happy Italian Learning