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Arrivano i Corsi di Fluenza!

Arrivano i Corsi di Fluenza!!

Don’t let your Italian get rusty this summer, but get more fluent while having fun!

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Would you like to get ready for your Italian hols, be able to place your order at the restaurant, bargain at the market and asking for information with confidence? Non c’è problema!essere-4-gatti

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!

Italian Classes CorkAre 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

 www.italiancork.com/conversation-classes/

www.italiancork.com/about-conversation-classes/

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How to STORE OUR VOCAB… and How to LEARN IT (part 2)

HOW TO STORE OUR VOCAB… AND HOW TO LEARN IT!

learn Italian vocabWe attend our Italian class and we learn (or we think we have learnt) a great deal of new vocab and use of prepositions… the week after, when we want to say that word or we want to say that sentence again… but which is the right preposition… comincia a piovere/comincia di piovere/comincia piovere… sugar, WHERE DID I WRITE IT? A frantic word hunt in our copybook has started, it should be there… the conversation goes on and we’d better stop looking for that word.

HOW CAN WE AVOID LOSING OUR NEW VOCAB IN OUR COPYBOOK?

Italian words

La rubrica/address book

We can get a special and cheap copy book… I found out it is called an ‘address book’. You write the new words under the appropriate letter and remember to write a sentence to define the connotation and the register of this word (the other words it goes with and when we use it). Per esempio: C Il cenone di Natale era molto buono, il cenone di Capodanno, un bel cenone, un buon cenone. Prepositions can also be stored more effectively than in a normal copy book. We could write under i ‘in’ and several examples with the rule (if there is one). Per esempio, in nave, in aereo, in macchina (in+mezzi di trasporto). In Calabria, in Sicilia, in Sardegna (in+regione), in banca prendo i soldi, in negozio compro, in chiesa prego. Usually, writing sentences helps us remember more. We’d be better not to use translation as we don’t want to pass through English and we want to think in Italian as much as we can (and we’ll be fluent only when we stop thinking in our mother tongue and translating into the target language). Therefore, instead of using English to translate our new words in our address book… let’s use images. Here is an extract of Doctor David V. Martin (2006) from his lecture on Psychology of Human Behaviour on imagery as a mnemonic device:

”Probably because as our ancestors evolved, they had to remember scenes long before having to remember words, we are naturally better at remembering images than such abstract concepts as words… If you have ever had someone show you hundreds of pictures of a vacation and one picture was accidentally repeated, you may have discovered how good you are at remembering pictures… Those who teach memory systems recommend that the more bizarre the picture, the easier it is to remember, although there are mixed findings in laboratory research concerning the advantages of bizarreness”.

Learn Italian prepositions

In barca

Therefore, as images are a powerful evocative means and they help us remember better we could draw a small sketch beside our new word, preposition or sentence. Either a sketch that helps us remember the meaning or the sound or both. On top of that, the action of writing the new word, sentence or preposition, is one of the greatest ways to deepen the neural pattern in your memory (you remember part one, don’t you?) and make your learning permanent.

When you’re at a more advanced stage and you want to start pinpointing your mistakes, you could use an address book to register them with their corrections. You will see them quickly disappear in your writing and in your speaking.

Buono studio (as some of you guessed we use buono because studio starts with s+consonant and it is masculine) and keep practising… practice makes permanent.

Carolina

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How to Turbocharge Our Language Learning (part 1)

Private tuition leaving certDo you want to learn Italian effectively and enjoy it? Bene, I’ve been thinking about something that may help my students and I decided to put together a series of tips.

First of all, I should tell you I’ve learned French (I studied and worked in Paris for a year) and English (in addition to my native Italian) and I’ve been applying all the following for years… therefore, I’m happy to share my ‘tricks’ with all the eager learners in the world and especially with those who attend my classes!

Secondly, you should probably know that I’m quite aware about learning as I have a masters degree in Educational Science and I’ve been specializing in language learning since before I started teaching Italian 6 years ago in Ireland… and I have one big, devouring passion: teaching. On top of that, I’m raising my son… multilingual. Kevin is 4 and he’s now fluent in Italian and English, his French is coming along fine through games, songs and Sam le pompier (fireman Sam) and he started learning Irish in pre-school. Since Kevin came along, I’ve extended my interest to multilingualism.

This is the first of our learning tips… ‘How to get the most out of our lesson(s)’ 

Attending Italian classes once a week is useful, but it won’t help anyone learn Italian as effectively if they walk out of the class and forget about it until the next lesson. Those students will find themselves lost very soon, overwhelmed by what seems sterile information and dreading their next lesson. Learning Italian doesn’t happen effectively, just by being exposed to the native Italian teacher once a week… we don’t learn through osmosis (too beautiful to be true!).

So, we attend our lesson and we understand what we are learning, it doesn’t matter if it is about grammar or a new expression or an idiomatic structure, we understand it. That’s great, but remember that the neural pattern we’ve just created in our brain is very light. Our working memory can’t manage too many things at the same time. The best thing we can do is to revise as soon as possible in order to carve this very light pattern into our long term memory… to make it permanent: through repetitions, drilling, writing and conversation practice.

Italian for children

Creating a neural pattern

Every day, we should do a little bit of revision and use our newly learned language. If we don’t have time we should listen to something in the target language… maybe a song that we know, so that we can exercise our ears to recognise the words… maybe a few minutes of the news. Let’s revise again before class, so that we will already be tuned in to the Italian language when we walk in and we’ll find ourselves familiar with it and happy to be there. The new topics of the lesson will immediately find their place in your ‘Italian mental map’ and you will be rewarded by your learning experience and you’ll learn even more (this is how dopamine works!)!

That’s all for now… Buono studio until the next one! Ps: let’s keep our language awareness on at all time… why did I use buono instead of buon?

Italian for children

Practice makes permanent

Part 2 will be out soon.

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Some Learning Aids for Our Natale!

Italian conversation in CorkSome Learning Aids for Our Natale!

We’ve just finished our Beginners class at the College of Commerce and we’re singing Italian Christmas songs this time of year… Grazie mille a tutti for your enthusiasm for learning Italian, for all the fun and laughs we have had.

We know that learning a language is a wonderful journey and through it we discover new world’s interpretations, new traditions and mind sets. Idiomatic expressions, sayings and words (of the new language) surprise us at times and make us smile. We had great laughs when we learned that in Italy we never say ‘buona fortuna’ (good luck) as it is supposed to carry bad luck… now we all know that we have to say ‘in bocca al lupo’ (in the wolf’s mouth)… we all know that we don’t answer ‘grazie’, but ‘CREPI’ (may the wolf die)… to know more about it just click here.

It’s great being a beginner as our learning pace is very fast and we can quickly see our improvements. Attending the Italian class gives us great help to get a good foundation and understanding of Italian grammar, which is indispensable if you wish to become fluent. Our pronunciation will be right from the very beginning and our mistakes will be a great source of improvement as the teacher will correct them for the benefit of all.

Nowadays we can also use useful apps or free websites to broaden our vocabulary, to get used to some specific expressions and to practice our Italian in an interactive way.Italian grinds

Sometimes, they’re more fun than books and we learn without much effort. Therefore, here is a list of those which I found so far and many thanks to those students who helped collect them.

My favorite website is www.education.vic.gov.au/LanguagesOnline/italian/italian.htm

It is completely free and you can learn lots of new vocab, sentence structures and practice your grammar in a fun way. Your children could enjoy it, too. In fact, I used this website a lot when teaching in Irish primary schools.

www.almaedizioni.it/it/almatv/ has been suggested by one of my students and it seems very good.

parliamoitaliano.altervista.org/ is a great website with a great deal of material for all Italian levels.

Duolinguo it.duolingo.com/ is also completely free and very good to build up your vocab in a fun and interactive way. Some of the vocab are not 100% accurate (for instance, they use ragazza instead of bambina for girl child), but these inaccuracies will be easily addressed when you attend your Italian class.

One of my students swears by Memrise www.memrise.com/ and she says that it helps her a lot with her vocab.

With www.italian-verbs.com/verbi-italiani.htm your problems with Italian verbs will come to an end! In fact, this website will give you all the regular and irregular verbs conjugated in a blink. Super handy, as long as you’ll learn the most common!

There are many other apps that you can download for free, but you’d need a smart phone or a tablet.

So, now… hurry up! You have lots of time over Christmas and I will be waiting for you in our Continuation class or back in the Dante and I’m looking forward to seeing your improvement!

More apps for smart phones, tablets and so on.

ps: this list is far from been complete and, please, feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions,

Carolina

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Grammar and Vocab are very important but…

Italian grinds CorkMy thesis advisor used to say to me that if you really want to learn something well you must teach it. He was more than right. As I graduated in Educational Science I taught a few subjects and I became rather knowledgeable about them. Since I have started to teach Italian I have perfected my knowledge of Italian grammar, even thought there is always something to learn, but my focus has been mainly on my students’ learning: ‘How can I get them to learn? How can I empower them and give them the confidence they need to speak in a language other than their mother tongue?’. 

Many of us know how difficult it is to speak in another language. Panic and nervousness frequently take over and we find ourselves going blank and embarrassed… I know it so well, trust me.Italian grinds Commercial

We frequently forget that we learned how to communicate in our first language in a natural way, copying what our parents, caregivers, tv and so on were saying. I cannot remember what I did, but I am closely and constantly watching my son who is three years old. He is continuously copying what we say at home (and not only at home, I am afraid), and the way that things are said. At night when he is on his own in bed he rehearses… he repeats complete sentences said during the day, the same tone of voice used and so on. Prof. Dalton Kehoe senior scholar at York University in Toronto Ontario, Phd in Social Psychology during his lecture ‘Effective Communication skills’ endorses the fact that it would be far more difficult to learn how to communicate learning a word at the time. To support his theory I have a couple of personal experiences which I am happy to share. I lived in Paris for a year and my French was much better when, after spending hours with some French friends, I would start imitating them. Even better when I’d try to mock them… I recently had a student in my class who, as with many beginners, would make some small mistakes in pronouncing Italian words… As soon as I’d correct her she would mock me, repeating and emphasizing what I had just said… her Italian then was perfect… not only her pronunciation, but her way to communicate was truly Italian! Italian grinds for Commercial Italian

This is the reason why working on your fluency is so important and I am working hard to get this message through. Grammar is incredibly important, vocabulary is more than necessary, but everything is dead knowledge as long as we don’t start to use the language to communicate. Through communicating effectively we gain confidence and we finally feel empowered. So, let’s watch Italian films, tv and the Italian people around us and let’s rehearse… practice makes perfect! 

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News News News… By popular demand… we’ll have an Extra Beginners Course at the College of Commerce!

Italian in CorkNews News News… By popular demand… we’ll have an Extra Beginners Course at the College of Commerce! 

As I was saying in our previous post, the interest in Italian language and culture is getting more and more popular among the people in Cork… Therefore, those who have been left on the waiting list will be happy to hear that we’ll have a new Beginners course at the College of Commerce, starting on Wednesday the 2nd of April. Just in time to spend your Easter holidays in Italy or prepare for your summer holidays and be able to use your newly learned Italian greetings, place your orders or ask for information.Italian holidays

In fact, the course is based on the communicative approach which focuses on students and their needs. Students will be able to ask for information and to express their understanding from their first lesson and they will be encouraged to use their newly learned Italian with me and the other students all the time. With the continuous use of educational and interactive methodologies and tools, such as role playing in real life situations, presentations, songs and videos, students learn not only through aural and visual, but also through kinaesthetic experience. In this way, learning is not only more effective, but it is also much more enjoyable… nothing like the old fashioned frontal lesson focused on the teacher. All this is enabled by our classroom well equipped with computer, internet, projector, speakers and a well laid out classroom which ensures the purpose of our classes: to speak Italian! 

You will also finish the course with a good foundation of Italian grammar… please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to know which topics will be covered. The course includes all the material (copies and audio) and students will only have to provide their own copy book for notes. I always recommend an indexed book so that you can build up your own Italian vocabulary, but don’t worry now… I will show it to you on our first day… Ci vediamo il 2 di aprile (see you on the 2nd of April)… Non vedo l’ora (I can’t wait), ciao, Carolina. 

To enrol in the Italian Beginners class follow this link

 

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Why is Italian so popular in Cork?

 

Learning Italian in Cork

It appears that in the last year, Italian became more and more popular among the people of Cork and the number of beginners has increased exponentially (in the school where I teach). So much so that the Beginners course we started at the end of January at the College of Commerce was fully booked with many people left on the waiting list (do not worry, I will contact you soon for the next one!). Are you wondering why? Some of the reasons are obvious, but some are quite a surprise… 

I have always asked my students why they want to learn Italian, so that I can make my lessons more appealing to them by leveraging their own motivations and help them to achieve their goals with extra work. I have got a rainbow of answers… one for everyone in the audience. 

As you can guess, many people become Italian students because they love Italy; they love the country with its fascinating history, art, food, sea, mountains, countryside, towns, villages, fashion, people and so on and on and on. They want to be able to speak and understand more about the country they love. This is a wonderful reason and it doesn’t put them under pressure. They appreciate their improvement and they can get an immediate benefit during their next holiday which is a great motivation. Learning South Italy

You might have heard that things in Italy are not going very well… we say that ‘l’Italia sta andando a rotoli’ (Italy is going down the tube)… therefore the number of Italians who are coming to Cork looking for new opportunities is also increasing. Believe it or not, many people in Cork take up Italian because they have Italian friends and/or Italian partners (boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives) and they want to learn their language and know more about their beautiful country. Therefore, as the number of Italian people has increased, the number of people who want to learn Italian has also risen. Are you surprised? I was!

The number of Spanish students has also increased… Italian and Spanish are very similar. I went to Spain a couple of times and I could get by with my Italian to place orders or to have simple conversations. Therefore, Spanish students have an easier start due to the closeness of the two languages. Things become more complex with the Italian grammar, though. An Italian friend of mine has been studying Spanish for years and she is still fighting against the use of prepositions… 

A few students have to learn Italian for work. They usually already have a second language and it is easier for them to learn Italian as they have developed a language awareness. Having said that, any student can definitely achieve good results and put Italian on their cv with a bit of work. 

Among my students, I have had singers (teachers and students), men and women with Italian origins, football fans, grammar lovers, people who want to move to Italy and those who have part of their families already living there and want to be able to communicate with their grandchildren… one for everyone in the audience… I told you so! 

This is not a scientific treatise, but only a rough estimation I worked out by adding up the answers I have had from my students over a number of years. 

Let me know your reasons! 

Carolina

 

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FORZA BEGINNERS (UP BEGINNERS)!

We have so much to do at the College of Commerce right now… In fact, we just started our Beginner classes.

This is so exciting! We are discovering another language, which means another way to express ourselves, understand others and perceive the surrounding world in a different way; a Mandarin proverb saysTo learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world’. As I am a ‘language learner’ myself, I couldn’t agree more (I had studied French and lived in Paris for a year and I started studying English 9 years ago and I think I will keep doing it forever!).

This why I love teaching Italian and especially beginner. It is an honour for me to be entrusted with the responsibility to help them understand our fundamental rules of grammar, pronounce our peculiar sounds, tune their ears in to the Italian rhythm and not bore them to death! This is quite a challenging task, but I am lucky as the Italian language provides me with many props which would keep anyone tuned in to the Italian language. In fact, pronunciation and grammar rules are much more digestible when they are accompanied by stunning photographs, famous Italian songs or role playing based on Italian real life situation. I believe this is also the best way to help students build meaningful learning which is not based on merely memorizing rules and words, but on constantly linking their knowledge to meaningful and possibly pleasant experiences.

I hope my new students are enjoying their learning and I hope they will let me know if they have any suggestions to improve our lessons!

Grazie a tutti e FORZA BEGINNERS!

Carolina

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LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD, BUT WITHOUT ‘CIBO’

Here is a tip for those who are studying Italian and want to sound more Italian. We do have the word ‘cibo’, which means ‘food’, in our Italian dictionary, but we hardly use it. In fact, we use other words or expressions, depending on the situation. On an ordinary day we use the words ‘da mangiare’ (to eat) for example: ‘è pronto da mangiare’ or ‘da mangiare è pronto!’ which literally means ‘it’s ready to eat’. Here are more examples: ‘do da mangiare al bambino’ (I give to eat to the child) or ‘preparo da mangiare per il cane’ (I prepare to eat for the dog). When we want to ask some friends about a new restaurant or about the food they had on holidays we can say: “come avete mangiato?” or “com’era il ristorante”. The answers will depend on the food, of course, but, surprisingly…there are no adjectives for the food. Look at the answers: “Abbiamo mangiato benissimo” (we ate very well) or “Il ristorante era buonissimo” (the restaurant was very good) or “era tutto buonissimo” (everything was very good) and this is the closest we can go to the word ‘cibo’, but we still don’t mention it. To ask what someone’s favorite food is: “qual’è il tuo piatto preferito?” “E’ la pizza” (it is pizza). Sometimes, we might also use ‘da mangiare’ referring to restaurants or holidays as in ‘com’era la roba da mangiare?’ (how was the stuff to eat), it is rather colloquial, though… 

CI SONO DOMANDE? 

It’s great to have answers to our doubts when we are learning a language, I know it very well. Our studying is far more constructive when we have an explanation to our questions and we learn more and faster. I might not have all the answers, but Italian is my first language, I am a teacher and I love grammar… yes I do! Please send me your questions and I will be happy to answer them in my posts. If you prefer to stay anonymous you can write to carolina@italiancork.com and your name won’t appear anywhere, I promise. Allora, andiamo con le domande….

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