Teaching Italian as a foreign language
Our Italian language programs are based on a communicative approach and focus on the four language abilities (listening, speaking, reading, writing). Our main goal is communication, both oral and written. Our courses are structured to conform with the European standards set by ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) and by the European Council.
Our teaching methodology is communicativism but not as extreme as per Krashen’s theories. We also consider language analyses to be important and for this reason we divide our standard course in two parts: “Language Analysis” and “Communicative Tasks”.
The “Language analysis” session includes controlled oral and written production, while the “Communicative tasks” session involves listening and reading comprehension and free oral and written activities.
Grammatical structures are presented in order of frequency and relative complexity. Teaching material is always introduced in some form of authentic text (newspaper or magazine articles, recorded conversations, videos, letters, short stories, etc.). All teachers meet weekly to monitor students’ progress and ensure proper student placement. The instructors rotate weekly to add variety and interest to the group dynamic.
Our Standard group course is divided in two parts: 2 lessons of Language Analysis followed by 2 lessons of practice with Communicative Tasks.
OUR USUAL TIME TABLE *
|08:30 – 09:25||One-to-one or Two-to-one lessons|
|09:30 – 11:00||Group courses: language analysis session|
|11:00 – 11:30||Coffee break|
|11:30 – 13:00||Group courses: communicative task session|
|13:00 – 14:00||Lunch break|
|14:00 – 14:55||One-to-one and Intensive and Culture courses|
|15:00 – 15:55||One-to-one and Intensive and Culture courses|
*This time-table may change according to the school’s organizational needs.
On rare occasions (e.g. high season) Group Classes may be scheduled in the afternoon (14:00 – 15:30 / 16:00 – 17:30).
In both Language Analysis and Communicative Tasks sessions, we focus our attention on the 5 language activities: listening, speaking, reading, writing and metalinguistics. As teachers of Italian as a foreign language, we believe that our students will learn better with a deductive approach to the language. For this reason our Italian lessons are teacher-centered and consequentely we engage our students through pair and group work, role-plays, dramatisations, etc.
We believe the student MUST be the “primadonna” in class. The teachers’ role MUST be “analising and understanding” his/her students needs and proposing all those activities conducive to maximise learning in class.
In linguistics, we distinguish “learning” and “acquisition“. Put simply, “learning” implies all the activities involving the rational, conscious, analitycal activities of our brain; “acquisition” requires the involvement of the subconscious side of our brain. The brain process of knowing a language is made up of 80% “acquisition”, 20% “learning”.
In fact, studying all the rules of a certain language does not ensure a thorough knowledge of it, meaning that only the use of the rational, analytical, conscious side of our brain is not sufficient in learning a language. We, as native speakers have NOT learned our language by reading and analysing sets of grammar rules or through pedantic corrections (which cause frustration, fear, apprehension, resentfulness and the learner feeling unsure about the language). On the contrary, during childhood, we needed to make mistakes without being continuosly corrected, restrecting ourself expression and causing frustration. We, as native speakers needed a balanced combination of corrections and learning through our mistakes.
Correction is one aspect of a language course, but certainly an entire course cannot be based on correction and this is why we do not correct our students in the second half of the lesson (“Communicative Tasks”). The aim of this part of the course is communication and improving our general ability in communicating and understanding.
Our course is divided into 2 sessions: the first is “language analyses” (focusing on listening, speaking, reading, writing) and the second is “communicative activities” (focusing on listening, speaking, reading, writing). The focus on correction is carried out only during Language Analyses sessions.
There is a maximum number of 10 students per class although, depending on the time of the year, our average class size is generally between 4 and 6 people. This limit ensures a small group environment conducive to communication and offers each student the opportunity to speak as much as possible.
Our Italian language courses are structured to conform with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages : Learning Teaching, Assessment of the Council of Europe and the ALTE Framework , and to conform with the European standards set by ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) and by the Council of Europe.
Ranging from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, our Italian language course programs are divided into six different levels of language ability. Students may enrol in our weekly classes for up to 6-months of course, depending on their goals. All students are placed in a level based on their entrance test (both written and oral).
|Common European Framework of Council of Europe||ALTE framework||BABILONIA levels|
|Elementary level||A1 Elementary||Breakthrough level||
|A2 Pre intermediate||Level 1||
|Intermediate level||B1 Intermediate||Level 2||
|B2 Upper intermediate||Level 3||
Advanced 1 A
Advanced 1 B
|Advanced level||C1 Pre-Advanced||Level 4||
Advanced 2 A
Advanced 2 B
|C2 Advanced||Level 5||
Advanced 3 A
Advanced 3 B
** allows students to reach the “threshold level“, the level of communicative competence according to the Modern Language Project of the Council of Europe.
Each level last four weeks.
The table below illustrates typical general ability at each level and in the skill areas.
ALTE breakthrough level
|CAN understand basic instructions or take part in a basic factual conversation on a predictable topic.||CAN understand basic notices, instructions or information.||CAN complete basic forms, and write notes including times, dates and places.|
|AN express simple opinions or requirements in a familiar context.||CAN understand straightforward information within a known area, such as on products and signs and simple textbooks or reports on familiar matters.||CAN complete forms and write short simple letters or postcards related to personal information.|
|AN express opinions on abstract/cultural matters in a limited way or offer advice within a known area, and understand instructions or public announcements.||CAN understand routine information and articles, and the general meaning of non-routine information within a familiar area||CAN write letters or make notes on familiar or predictable matters.|
|CAN follow or give a talk on a familiar topic or keep up a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics.||AN scan texts for relevant information, and understand detailed instructions or advice.||CAN make notes while someone is talking or write a letter including non-standard requests.|
|CAN contribute effectively to meetings and seminars within own area of work or keep up a casual conversation with a good degree of fluency, coping with abstract expressions.||CAN read quickly enough to cope with an academic course, to read the media for information or to understand non-standard correspondence.||CAN prepare/draft professional correspondence, take reasonably accurate notes in meetings or write an essay which shows an ability to communicate.|
|CAN advise on or talk about complex or sensitive issues, understanding colloquial references and dealing confidently with hostile questions.||CAN understand documents, correspondence and reports, including the finer points of complex texts.||CAN write letters on any subject and full notes of meetings or seminars with good expression and accuracy.|
Completion of any 4-week course does not automatically guarantee advancement to the next level. Language learning is not a mechanical endeavour. It is an academic endeavour which also involves a personal and psychological component. Some students chose to repeat a particular level or delay advancement by a week or two, so as to continue study and practice of particular structures.
Since our Italian language programs are based on a communicative approach, our materials, activities and tasks are extensive..
Most of our students take full advantage of the authentic materials in class (newspapers, magazines, books, radio, TV, internet, etc). Moreover, the communicative activities often extend out of the classroom and into the students’ free time.
Upon request, we also offer completion exams to solidify and measure progress achieved. As an accredited language institution, our school conform to various International educational standards.
Teaching italian language in Sicily Photogallery
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