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!