We are having a great time here in Piccolitalia and, above all, we are having an Italian time. With our Gruppo Scuola we are having fun, learning and enjoying Italian grammar fundamentals such as feminine and masculine , articles and verbs. With our Gioca e Impara group (Play and Learn) we are having fun with weather, seasons, and the days of the week… we always learn so much through songs, fun activities and games with both groups as this is the best way to learn! With both groups we really loved celebrating Natale, talking about our Italian customs, traditions and folklore… The favoured topics this year were la Befana, la Tombola di Natale (bingo) and, obviously, the Pandoro (our Italian Christmas cake). Take a look at the pictures… you can see it for yourselves!
We are ready to restart again next week (Saturday 27 January) and we cannot wait to celebrate Carnevale! If you are interested in your children to join us… hurry, as we have only 2 places left!
To learn more about Piccolitalia courses http://www.italiancork.com/155-2/
Good reasons to visit Italy… good reason to learn Italian
If someone asked me why they should visit Italy… I would say that there are so many good reasons. I would even recommend that they spend some time over there and speak Italian in order to have a better understanding of Italian culture, traditions and people, of course. As a picture says much more than thousands words, let’s enjoy these very eloquently photos, just to get a sense of what we are talking about.
Why are so many people in Cork learning Italian?
Wonderful pictures, aren’t they? But now let’s see why people in Cork take up Italian. I run a quick survey at every Beginners course we start (in order to tailor our class to our students needs), so we do have a fair idea about why Cork people study Italian… Do you have any ideas yourselves? You probably guessed it right. The main reason is that they like going to Italy for their holidays, they love the culture, the food and Italian places. Many people take up Italian because they like the sound of this language and they would like to go to Italy, too. Some of my students start learning Italian because they have Italian origins and others have to because of their job. A good few do it because their loved ones are Italian… and among them is my husband! As they say… one for everybody in the audience.
Who is learning Italian?
There are Italian learners of all ages, nationalities and cultural backgrounds here in Cork. In fact, learning a language has been scientifically proved to be one of the best ways to keep illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases at bay. This is because our neurons have to work in a different way to learn and speak a new language and they have to build new neural networks. On the other hand, we have very young learners (not here in the College of Commerce, though). In fact, quite a few parents want their children to learn a language as this is the best way to turbocharge their brain. Bilingual or multilingual children have more neural connections between the right and the left part of their brain, they develop a positive attitude towards languages and they have fun learning without any effort… so it’s a win win!
Why is the College of Commerce the best place to learn Italian in Cork?
There are many reasons, but I would say that the most important is that, in our courses, we implement the Italian we are learning immediately from day one… we, in fact, use our Italian in real life situation role playing and this is engaging, fun and above all useful. Many students come to our classes as they want ‘to speak’. There is no point in learning lots of grammar and vocabulary and doing lots of homework if we do not speak the language we are learning.
For these reasons classes take a great deal of preparation, props, flash cards and the like, but having a masters degree in Educational sciences and many years of experience in both Italy and Ireland helps quite a lot… To be an effective teacher takes much more than just being a native speaker. The teacher must also be a trained, experienced and dedicated person to be truly effective. Which, luckily, I am 😉
We also take a great advantage of our dedicated language room with special language programs and headsets on every student’s computer to work harder on our listening skills, especially with our Continuation and Intermediate groups.
Very importantly, we do not leave any students behind. Students who cannot attend a lesson (and those who do) receive an email after class with notes, pdfs of the pages handed out and homework… it takes a bit of time, but it makes a big difference and ensures that students always have all the materials they need to keep up even if life has conspired to make them miss a class.
A few weeks before starting our courses, students receive an email with the programme for the courses they may like to attend and some advice regarding the best choice for them. We have four courses now and sometimes students are unsure of their level or their ability to go to the next step.
The programmes for the 4 courses are available online and, as we don’t want anyone to get bored, the programmes change every semester.
It seems that our students have appreciated our work so far. I started teaching Italian in the College of Commerce in September 2009 to a single Beginners class… the year after I had a Beginners and a Continuation class, the following year I had 3 classes: Beginners, Continuation and Intermediate and a couple of years ago we finally added the Advanced course. This progression means that you can go from absolute beginner to fluent all right here at the College.
What do students achieve attending the Beginners course in the College of Commerce?
As we were previously saying, students are implementing their new learned sentences in real life situations and role playing them immediately. Therefore, they will be able to place an order at the restaurant, to book a room and to talk about themselves after a few weeks. They will also gain a good foundation in Italian grammar basics and they will be able to progress with their Italian, if they wish.
What do students achieve attending the Continuation course in the College of Commerce?
They will be encouraged to speak even more! In fact, half of our lesson is dedicated to develop their fluency and this means a full hour every week. New vocabulary and grammar are immediately implemented in new situations such as bargaining at the market, talking about family, weather, holidays and so on. Writing skills are also developed to consolidate students newly learned sentence structures. Therefore, after this course, students will be more confident in their Italian and they will be definitely be able to go to a market (no English speakers in Italian markets, sorry!) or shops, talk about the weather and their past holidays.
What do students achieve attending the Intermediate course in the College of Commerce?
“Parliamo Italiano” is the motto of this course, as we will alternate a grammar class (held in English) and a fluency class held completely in Italian with different topics and some listening (we will sometimes use a language room with headsets). Students will develop their language skills through discussion, exercises and role playing while new Italian idioms and expressions will help students to sound more Italian in conversation. A few of my students who completed this course are actually living in Italy at the moment, to give you an idea of the level.
What do students achieve attending the Advanced course in the College of Commerce?
‘Solo in Italiano, per favore’ (only in Italian, please) is the motto of this class. Many of these students started with me years ago, some of them have come from other schools and they all enjoy speaking only Italian. In fact, even our grammar lessons are in Italian. Many of them are fluent, others are almost fluent and they all love learning, studying and having fun in Italian, so much that a few of them live in Italy for few months a year and few of them have even bought a house there… lucky them!
Our presepio is getting better and better. My son adores this Italian tradition and this year we shared it with his schoolmates who were very impressed. Every year we add some new features, improvements and ideas for the following Christmas. As you might already know in Italy we have the tradition of building a nativity scene called Presepio (or Presepe) during advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The birthplace of cribs and nativity scenes, both alive and not, was Italy in 1223. It was, in fact, San Francesco d’Assisi who invented them. His first presepio was in a grotto where he reproduced the nativity scene with real people, except for Baby Jesus who had been replaced by a doll… but the doll, legend says, became a real baby at midnight, 24th of December. This is, in fact, the time of the real Christmas for Italian people, to go to mass, to toast and exchange our presents.
We talk a lot here during our Fluency classes… in Italian of course… ONLY in italiano!
When we study grammar rules in the grammar book they seem clear enough, but to implement them FLUENTLY in a real conversational context, is another story. This is why Fluency classes are so useful. Here some practical examples. When we go to buy some clothes we ask simple questions such as ‘how do I look?’ or ‘do I look OK?’ or ‘do I look smart?’. Trust me that if we translated these expressions into Italian… they wouldn’t make any sense! Therefore, in our Fluency Classes we are learning the Italian ways to say the same things and… at the start these don’t sound familiar to English speaker’s ears, but through using them in fun activities, real life situations, role playing and listening to Italian dialogues we get the hang of it.
In order to get the best out of our Fluency classes we use topics that are fun, useful and that allow us to talk about our interests, experiences or things that matter to us. Tasks are challenging in order to engage us but also practical and fun. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that we do our best and learn the most when we’re having fun. This is because cognition and emotion affect each other in the oldest part of our brain (the Amygdala). This part of our brain reacts to fear and happiness and this reaction strongly affects our ability to learn and memorise. On top of that, we shouldn’t forget that being in a good mood helps the production of ‘serotonin which plays an important role in learning, memorisation other important areas such as social abilities’ (‘Learning how to learn’ Dr. Barbara Oakley, University of California, San Diego).
Fancy learning Italian? Whether you are going to Italy for your holidays or you have decided to learn this beautiful, musical and colourful language, let’s start with our Beginners course. Practical conversation is included from our first class and, during our lessons, we will learn how to introduce ourselves, place an order at the restaurant, ask for information and more. Grammar is immediately implemented in practical and useful conversational tasks, but it will also give you good foundations if you decide to progress with your Italian and join the next course. Booking your place is essential, but remember that this course is for a small group in order to allow students to fully participate and get the best learning experience. Therefore, I would recommend that you book as soon as possible by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by text (087 9588375).
Starting date: 8th of August
Time: 6.00-7.30 pm
Number of lessons: 8
Max number of students: 9
E’ Estate… Ora di FLUENCY Classes!
It’s Summer, it’s Time for FLUENCY Classes!
We’ve worked hard all Winter and Spring studying grammar rules, learning new vocabulary and idioms. We did dedicate some time to our conversational skills, but we all know we need more of it, especially now that we want to go to Italy.
Fluency Classes could be called Conversation Classes, but this definition might lead to a bit of a confusion. In fact, these are not places where we go for a chat. Fluency Classes’ purpose is to develop our fluency and accuracy. In order to ensure the full participation of all students we never take more than nine students.
For Upper Beginners and Pre-Intermediate (livello 1 and 2), new vocab, idioms and interchangeable chunks of sentences will be introduced through videos and examples. These will be contextualized in a real life situation, so that students can immediately see the usefulness and cement their understanding. The second part of the lesson, consists of one or more conversational based tasks practiced in pairs or groups. The tasks include real life situations role playing, descriptions and interviews. These tasks are great fun and enjoyment is a key element in the learning process (to read more on this read my blog post on this link)
During our work, students will be provided timely, but not pedantic feedback. At the end of the lesson we will highlight the newly learned expressions, vocab and common mistakes we have to work on for the next session.
For other levels, vocab, new idioms and expressions are introduced through games, songs or films. They will be used during our conversational tasks and through games they are memorized. The higher the level the more demanding films, songs and conversational tasks will be.
The use of Italian only is recommended as we know that we think in the language we speak and if a student starts asking questions in English, the whole group have to switch their thinking into English. We all know that we can ask the meaning of what we didn’t understand by saying, for example ‘Cosa significa acqua?’ and the other student can say ‘Acqua significa water’. If we don’t know how to say something in Italian, we can simply say ‘Come si dice I’d like some water?’ the other student or the teacher will answer ‘Si dice: vorrei dell’acqua’. In this way we can still get the info we need, but we pass through Italian… and at the end of our lesson we’ll sound more Italian and our confidence in our Italian will be much higher than when we started… and we’ll also have had fun! Grazie a tutti!
To know more about upcoming classes you can email email@example.com
Arrivano i Corsi di Fluenza!!
Don’t let your Italian get rusty this summer, but get more fluent while having fun!
Is your Italian more advanced and you’d like to be able to express yourself in a more refined way, learn more vocab, expressions and idioms in order to understand and be understood better when chatting with your Italian friends? Non c’è problema!
Are you fluent or almost? Wouldn’t it be enjoyable to read a real Italian book while listening to it or watch an Italian movie and discuss the underling messages, the philosophical nuances or the use of that particular jargon right there in a small group? Non c’è problema!
Fluency classes take places in small groups to ensure that all students are fully involved in the activities, we have timely but non pedantic feedback fundamental to ensure our improvement and we love having fun in Italian… perchè questo, signori e signore, it is the best way to learn! To know more, please check our posts
It’s Carnevale time in Italy and everyone in every town, village and school is working on costumes, masks or floats. Children are taking it very seriously and they spend all their savings on ‘scherzi di Carnevale’… (Carnevale’s tricks). There is a great variety of them: fialette puzzolenti (smelly vials), cushions which sound in a very embarrassing way when you sit on, itchy powders and many many more. I was amazed the other day when my students (my grown up students) told me that they thought Carnevale was only about Venezia… ‘no, no, no’ said I!
In fact, Carnevale has very ancient origins and every town has their own traditional mask and you can see them on floats when they go around their town among colourful ‘coriandoli’ (you call them confetti), ‘stelle filanti’ (streamers) and trumpets. Many of the traditional masks or characters are servants, such as Colombina (Venezia) or Pulcinella (Napoli) or Arlecchino (Bergamo), probably because Carnevale used to have a liberating and subversive purpose so through it servants could make fun of their masters. Some masks are actually masters, such as Dottor Balanzone (from Bologna) or Gianduia (Torino) or Pantalone, rich and mean Venetian merchant.
Carnevale comes with big celebrations in every town in Italy and there are so many famous Carnevale besides the one in Venice, such as the Carnevale of Viareggio, Carnevale of Fano (the most ancient in Italy, it was celebrated in 1347 for the first time) or the Carnevale of Ivrea. In Ivrea they celebrate their Carnevale with ‘la battaglia delle arance’ (the battle of the oranges), a real war where organised groups representing old and noble families (each with their coat of arms) throw oranges at each other from their floats… very spectacular, very unique and very messy, too. Remember to wear a red hat if you decide to go there, so they won’t throw oranges at you!