‘Italian Study Vacations’ 6: How do you teach using only Italian?

A common question is: how do you teach using only Italian? I don’t know any Italian! I won’t understand anything!

Clients asking us this may come from a Spanish- or English-speaking country, or be from Germany, or Russia, or Japan. Sometimes there is no way for them even to ask the question, as they know neither English nor Italian, so they bring along a friend, boyfriend, or employer to ask for them.

Change the question around though, and imagine: how could we teach every student effectively if we DIDN’T use only Italian? We could ensure that all of our teachers spoke excellent English (they don’t), but we certainly couldn’t assume that to be true for all of our students. Could we expect the teacher to speak the language of every student in the class (Swedish, French, Portugese, German, Russian and Japanese today…)? Obviously not.

So, while an Italian evening class in your country might be held partly or wholly in either Italian OR your own language, you should expect classes at the best language schools in Italy to be only in Italian.

The methodology used to teach a language using only that language is surprisingly simple. At lower levels it’s very step-by-step, so showing or miming the meaning of each word or phrase before it is used. Naturally explanation is to be avoided at beginner level as the more the teacher says, the less the students will be able to follow. Our teachers are sensitive to the fact that you might have trouble understanding the lessons at first, and we know that the first day or two can be traumatic! But you’ll soon get used to this way of learning, and find that it offers you huge benefits in terms of improving your Italian comprehension and speaking skills.

The aim of our courses is to help you to speak and understand Italian, not simply to teach you about Italian grammar. The methodology is essential for this.

The next article in this series will give you an idea of how much you can expect your Italian to improve during your course.

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