How Italian courses for adults aren’t like high school French

I studied French at school.

Several times a week, for what always seemed like forever.

Remember that cliched scene of a surging crowd of noisy children finally released from the tedium of school work?

That was us.

I started at the age of around nine, and endured studying a foreign language for eternity, until I was permitted to give up at the age of sixteen.

Do I speak French now?

Of course not.

But I have fond memories of our French teacher, who once grabbed my ear and twisted it painfully.

She regularly lamented my horrible French pronunciation in front of the class.

Thirty years have passed, and now I own an Italian language school, which specialises in courses for adult learners.

Clients include university students and young people, but also professionals – business people, teachers, the occasional diplomat or sports star – and many, many retired people.

They choose to study Italian at our school in Bologna because Italian is a great language and Bologna is the ideal place to study it.

But mostly because someone who has already learnt Italian with us told them they should try it.

Clients who’ve learnt a lot of Italian come back again and again.

And they tell their friends!

For this to happen, we ensure that our Italian courses for adults are absolutely NOT like my French lessons at high school!

Here are some thoughts on that:

  • Our success depends on your positive response to what we do and how we do it. And on the improvement in your Italian as a result of the time and money you invest. Obviously, not every student will easiy reach their goals, and we won’t be able to please everyone all of the time. But we do our best!
  • Your teacher is trained to teach adults. She (it’s usually a she) does that every working day of her career, so there’s no reason for her to talk down to you, and every reason for her to be encouraging and supportive.
  • Your Italian classs will have a maximum 10 students, so you can count on plenty of opportunities to speak, and you can expect feedback on the mistakes you make (but in a positive, encouraging way!) The other students will be from various countries and should have approximately the same level in Italian. Hopefully, you’ll make friends, and so have people to practice speaking Italian with, both inside and outside class.
  • Grammar’s important in Italian, but we don’t fill class time with boring, repetitive exercises. Homework is optional – we set it because it may help you consolidate your learning and progress faster. Whether you do it or not is completely up to you. Oh, and we understand you want to learn to SPEAK and UNDERSTAND Italian, which means you’ll need plenty of opportunities to interact in Italian during class time. We’re on to that.
  • Speaking of speaking, the ‘lingua-franca’ of our school is Italian, not English. We don’t do English-language medium Italian lessons because we believe they’re counter-productive (and because not all our students even speak English.) You’ll be studying in Italian from the first minute of the first lesson.
  • Learning happens outside of class too. For example, the ‘coffee break’ is not just a break but a chance to chat in Italian with students and teachers from other classes, all together in the local coffee bar. The same is true for the regular social activities we organise – you and your class can see the city, drink wine, visit a museum, eat out – but it should always be in Italian!
  • Finding your class hard-going, or way too easy? Talk to your teacher first. And if you get no joy with her, try the Director of Studies (the teacher’s boss), who’s there to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. One or the other of them will be able to help you. We might, for example, suggest changing to an easier/harder class.
  • Most days there’ll be a tutor available in our library to help you with your homework (you’re not expected to sweat over it alone!) You can also ask the tutor for extra speaking practice, or to go over things you didn’t quite understand from your lessons. He/she is usually a university student or teacher-trainee gaining the experience needed to graduate.

And if your Italian pronunication is not up to scratch?

Don’t worry – we won’t twist your ear!

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