Updated: Jan 29, 2022
1. What is PLIDA?
PLIDA stands for Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri which is an Italian proficiency test for non-mother tongue speakers of Italian. There are 6 levels, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 that follow the CEFR Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages).
The four abilities of listening, reading, writing and speaking are tested. The test is administered by the Società Dante Alighieri. Not all of the centres offer the test since certified examiners are needed to administer the test. It follows an annual centralized schedule. More information is available at https://plida.it/
2. The 4 parts of the PLIDA
The following is how I approached the four parts of the test as I was preparing for the B1.
I would listen to Pope Francis’ general audiences, Peppa Pig in Italian and Easy Languages Italian. All of these are available on Youtube.
The first reading material I received was an Italian Missal from the local Italian parish. What is important is to find reading material that interests you. Some good questions to ask are, where does the Italian language intersect with my particular interests? Ie. Roman history, landmarks, food-recipes.
You can find general reading material at Wikipedia in Italian or wikihow in Italian.
I started writing about my daily life. I also tried to expand my vocabulary of daily life. Once you are at the stage of writing complete sentences, this is where you would most likely need a tutor/teacher to correct your written work.
This was the last skill that developed for me. For this skill, finding mother tongue speakers is helpful. I would suggest a language partner that speaks Italian as their mother tongue, but it is much more helpful if the dynamic between the two of you is one of low to no stress. For me, low to no stress meant finding a language partner that does not overcorrect me. This was also because I wanted to develop fluency. For myself, being self-aware and somewhat self-conscious, I could tell when I was making a mistake. Being corrected mid-sentence did not motivate me to keep on talking. My language partner came in the form of a nonna.
The next question to ask is where to find mother tongue speakers if you are not living in Italy. You can find language exchanges online. I tried one site long ago, but I did not like the type of people I met through it. If you would like to meet mother tongue speakers in your city, recall that there are Italian diasporas all over the world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_diaspora). Generally, wherever there is an Italian diaspora, there is a local Italian Parish or an Italian community centre. Also, through the Dante Alighieri Society, you can most likely meet mother tongue teachers.
3. A tutor/teacher
The platform Verbling is good for finding a mother tongue tutor. Hiring a teacher is somewhat of an art. It is best to keep in mind what you need as a learner. This might take some self-reflection.
Some general criteria would be the time slot and availability of you and the teacher. It is good if teachers have certification such as CEDILS or DITALS II. DITALS II is more advanced that DITALS I. It is also good if teachers provide materials, unless as a learner you would like more control of your curriculum.
My particular preferences were for a mother tongue Italian teacher that did not learn English. I found that the ones that learnt English would translate too much for me. There was also a strange dynamic that I could not pinpoint.
I liked working with male teachers. I interviewed four female teachers. I found that they over-corrected me and there was a tendency of rigidity on their part. I found the male teachers were much more natural and would gently correct me.
I liked working with teachers that were happy to teach me. You could easily tell that they loved their job. Learning a foreign language is hard already but to add interpersonal stress to the mix would have been too much for my stress tolerance levels.
The last preference was for a teacher that could respect that I was learning Italian as an adult and not as a child. I found being treated as a child did not help me to relax and absorb the language.
4. Loescher 40
There are 40 grammar points from Loescher. This was systematic and helpful for me since I encountered Italian in an un-organized way. https://italianofacile.wordpress.com/schede-di-grammatica-esercizi/
I also found an Italian Bescherelle that helped me to learn how to conjugate verbs.
Other resources I used are mentioned in my PLIDA guide available through the online store on this site or Kindle Direct Publishing List of resources PLIDA
It is key to set deadlines for yourself. Ie. When would you like to take the PLIDA?
A needs analysis can be done by looking at the CEFR guidelines https://www.researchgate.net/figure/CEFR-Common-Reference-Levels-self-assessment-grid-Council-of-Europe-2001-26f_tbl1_232014052 .
Some questions to ask yourself are the following:
1. Where am I today? Across all four parts?
2. Where do I want to be? By when?
3. What parts are missing in which abilities?
4. What has to be done everyday in order to reach my deadline?
5. What are some smaller deadlines that I can set? What could I aim to have done by then?
6. What are some ways to get to those deadlines?
7. What outside help do I need to reach my goals?