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Interested in Learning Italian in Cork? Starting soon in the College of Commerce

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?

Advanced College of COmmerceThere 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 Italian advanced Corkmasters 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 😉

Italian Advanced Cork

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.Italiancork advanced conversation

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?

Conversation Advanced January

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 Advanced Italian Conversationfluency 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?

Advanced Italian Cork “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!

Advanced Conversation Italian



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!


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


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


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.


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.



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.


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

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. has been suggested by one of my students and it seems very good. is a great website with a great deal of material for all Italian levels.

Duolinguo 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 and she says that it helps her a lot with her vocab.

With 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,



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! 


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



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! 




Raising a bilingual child, our third year.

Cork languageMy husband is an English speaker, I am Italian and, as many of you already know, we live in Cork, Ireland. Our son Kevin was born on 17 December 2010. We decided to raise him bilingual and we still stick to this decision. It is not the easy road and it is a strong commitment for both parents. 

I started reading and studying about bilingualism when Kevin was 4 months old and I found out that in order to raise a bilingual child (Italian and English) a part of the ‘Language area’ in his brain should develop an Italian section. Studies show that a bilingual child also has a better ability to focus and problem solve… every little helps… 

With great fear, I found out that in order to achieve this goal I had speak to him only in Italian. As I started learning English at 35, I was very much focused on improving it when Kevin was born. The idea of speaking Italian constantly again freaked me out… and the first six months were a nightmare! Therefore, I understand that it is difficult for some parents to switch languages all the time, but I can reassure them that it is a temporary discomfort and that the ability to switch will soon improve. 

I started to talk Italian to Kevin all the time, regardless of where we were. It might have looked a bit funny… as Kevin was only a baby and he couldn’t answer. I know that many parents feel a bit weird or impolite about talking Italian in front of people who cannot understand. I have never had a problem with anyone. By the tone of my voice and looking at Kevin, no one would ever think that I am saying something bad or nasty about them. 

With my great disappointment, Kevin started talking mostly in English (I think he was about two years old). In spite of the fact that he used to spend the majority of his time with me and didn’t go to a crèche, all his words were in English (this, that, daddy, it…) bar ‘mama’. 

I was getting worried that Kevin, in spite of all my efforts, wouldn’t speak Italian. 

I had started Italian playgroups and I tried to keep them up for a while, I had nice time hanging out with other Italian mothers, but there was no structure and our children were not really engaged with Italian. 

I read couple of articles about the subject, one of them written by psychologist Serio Spinelli who is also raising his children bilingual in Dublin. Both articles were suggesting that the ‘majority language’ parent can encourage the use of the minority language (Italian in our case) by using some words, every now and then. They said that the majority language cannot be jeopardise by that as it is the society’s language.Afterwards, my husband started using a little bit of Italian with Kevin, too. Joady doesn’t speak Italian, but even still… the use of his few words definitely encouraged Kevin when he was about 2 and a few months old. 

Spinelli stresses also the importance of creating an Italian network for our bilingual children: ‘L’erosione progressiva della lingua materna è una evoluzione naturale contro cui è diflicile lottare da soli. La soluzione sta nella rete di amici della nostra stessa origine linguistica che si avrà avuto cura di costruire. Senza I’aiuto di parlanti della stessa lingua esterni alla famiglia d’origine sarà impossibile mantenere il bilinguismo a lungo termine’. 

Luckily enough, I am a teacher and I know where to find Italian resources and teaching support. Therefore, a year ago we started our Piccolitalia project and I started using lots of songs at home, too. Kevin started singing himself to sleep and his Italian improved a lot. This project is a very good mix: it is a great way for our children to do something funtogether, to keep in touch with each other and to learn Italian or to reinforce the Italian they learn at home through a structured routine. Cork Italian for children

Our weekly Italian class is definitely bearing fruit and Kevin’s Italian is at least as good as his English, if not slightly better. He goes to a crèche twice a week (about 10 hours a week) and when I go to collect him, he immediately starts telling me everything about everything in Italian. It is a wonderful bond, made even more special by the fact that we have our own language. People are amazed all the time because he’s able to switch from English to Italian instantaneously. The other day a lovely lady asked Kevin to teach her the colours in Italian and she was delighted with the lesson he gave her. 

As our language is difficult, I am frequently and gently correcting Kevin’s Italian and I give him explanations. It is the right thing to do. Do not think that those mistakes will go away by themselves because it won’t happen. 

Some parents asked me what I do when Kevin speaks to me in English… I don’t understand him and I don’t want to understand him in English! After all my efforts, the last thing that I want to do is to listen to him talking to me in English! I have heard of other Italian parents who are doing the same and so far so good for them, too. 

Things will probably get more difficult and I know of many parents whose children started talking to them in English since they started going to school… chi vivrà vedrà (those who will live will see)!bilingualism in Cork

Ps: this is not a scientific treatise, but only our experience limited to our first three years. If you would like to add something about your own experience, it would be great.


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