The Italian Language Test for Citizenship
Due to the amendments to the Italian law in December 2018, it is now compulsory to obtain an Italian B1 language certification for all applicants for Italian citizenship through marriage or residence.
Anyone applying for dual citizenship under these terms must prove an adequate competence in the Italian language.
What does “B1” stand for?
The Italian level B1 is the third level of Italian in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), a definition of the different language levels stated by the Council of Europe.
In other words, those who have reached the B1 language level have a level of Italian that is beyond the basics but still not perfect. He or she can interact with the language on a day-to-day basis, deal with most of the situations on a trip to Italy, describe personal experiences, events, or aspirations, and briefly express his opinions.
How To Prepare For The B1 Exam
To reach a B1 Italian level, it means that you have already completed the two previous levels: A1 (beginner) and A2 (elementary). If you haven’t done it yet, I suggest you sign up for general Italian classes at a language institution near you or by hiring a private tutor. For online learning options, I recommend using:
- Preply is an online marketplace with tutors from all over the world, including Italy. Certain tutors are trained to prepare students for the certification exams.
- Rocket Italian is an online, self-paced course that can help you lay out an itinerary for your study time, and it’s available for complete beginners too.
If you have already studied some Italian but don’t know at what level it is, I suggest you have your level assessed by a professional teacher (if you would like your Italian to be assessed by me, you can book your call here).
Don’t forget that it’s a crucial part of your preparation to train all four competencies of language learning, which are reading, writing, speaking, and listening. All of the B1 certification exam is, in fact, split into different tasks, each one tackling one of these competencies.
How long does it take to learn Italian at a B1 level?
It all depends on your level. If you are an absolute beginner in Italian, it might take anywhere from 12 to 36 months, depending on your time commitment and native language. If you already have a solid intermediate level, it might take you only as little as a couple of months.
A1 and A2 grammar topics
- the Italian pronunciation
- the articles
- the number and gender of adjectives and nouns
- the present indicative of regular verbs
- the present indicative of irregular verbs
- the reflexive verbs
- the modal verbs (voglio, posso, devo)
- the verb piacere and other impersonal verbs
- the past tense (passato prossimo)
- the reflexive verb with the passato prossimo
- the imperfect tense (the imperfetto)
- the future simple
- the imperative
- the direct and indirect object pronouns
- the possessive adjectives
- the present progressive
- the direct and indirect object pronouns
- the impersonal form “si”
- the indefinite adjectives (nessuno, niente, ogni, etc..)
- the articulated prepositions
- the imperfect tense
- the imperative form
- the future tense
- the conditional form
- the particle “ci”
B1 grammar topics for the Citizenship Exam
- the reflexive verbs used with the passato prossimo and other verbal forms
- the difference in the usage of the passato and prossimo and imperfetto
- the double object pronouns (me lo, te la..)
- the pronouns “ci” and “ne”
- the correct use of articles and prepositions
- the indefinite adjectives (qualche, alcuni, nessuno)
- the comparatives (più buono, più bello)
- the present conditional
- the present subjunctive
B1 conversation topics
- your work
- your vacations
- your hobbies, like favorite music, movies, sport or books
- the environment (pollution, recycling, etc)
- the healthcare system in your country and in Italy
- the education system in your country and Italy
- your shopping habits
- your educational background and your plans for future training
- and, more broadly, debating the advantages and disadvantages of any particular topic
What Are The Available Certifications For The B1 Cittadinanza test?
- CILS B1 Cittadinanza – the University of Siena for foreigners (more information here)
- CELI 2 Cittadinanza – the University of Perugia for foreigners (more information here)
- PLIDA B1 – Dante Alighieri Association (more information here)
All of the above certifications are available in Italy and at Italian institutions and schools around the world.
What’s the structure of the tests?
All of the B1 language tests aim at assessing all of the competencies of language learning and they’re generally split into five sections covering listening, reading, writing and speaking. However, one task’s specifics and lengths may change from one type of exam to another.
The CILS B1 certification
I would say that the CILS certification is most recognized worldwide as it has the most significant number of exam centers worldwide, spread among Italian schools, universities, or other types of institutions. It is also easier to access prep material for the CILS certification online in the form of courses or books.
The CILS offers two types of B1 exams: The CILS B1 Cittadinanza and the CILS B1.
How does the CILS B1 Cittadinanza differ from the regular CILS B1?
The CILS B1 Cittadinanza has been specially designed for all those applicants that need to obtain the Italian Certification for Citizenship. It thus has a focus on the communicative aspects that the potential passport holder might be involved in.
The CILS B1 level for Citizenship includes a reduced number of tasks compared to the regular CILS B1 exam (two listening tasks, two reading tasks, one speaking task, and one writing task) and takes around 2 hours instead of 5.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that, the CILS B1 for Citizenship has to be passed in full. It means that you’ll have to pass all the sections of the exam he other to succeed at exam. This is different from the other CILS tests, where the applicants are allowed to you retake only those parts of the exam that they have not passed, if they have failed in the first place.
List of CILS exam centers around the world
More information about how to pass the CILS B1 Cittadinanza test here.
The CELI certification
The PLIDA certification
Test preparation material
To pass the B1 Cittadinanza exam successfully, you don’t just need to have a good command of the topics I listed above, but you also need to be acquainted with the exam structure. Knowing beforehand in what order the tasks are presented, how much time you will be allowed for every task, and the specific requirements of each task will make the difference on the day of the exam.
My suggestion is to get as many exam samples as you can. You can find them online in the form of a certification or as a textbook on Amazon.Just dial your accreditation and your level.
Once you reach the intermediate level, you can start to train to pass your B1 citizenship certification.
The best game plan is to buy a textbook that collects the certification test samples.
Do you offer a prep course for the B1 Citizenship Test?
We offer individual classes for highly motivated students who want to perfect their Italian and get in the right shape for the exam.
If you can’t commit to regular classes or just need a quick fix for the exam (e.g., a customized learning plan or getting your mock test checked out), you can book a one time individual class with me here.