The principal objective of our Italian language courses is to get our students, even those in the beginner and elementary levels, to the point where they're able to communicate in Italian. How do we do this? We believe that the knowledge of grammatical structures and vocabulary are important, yet we know that they aren't enough in themselves. Students can be well versed in the rules of the Italian language without being able to speak it.
When we communicate in Italian, we use language to exercise certain functions, such as asking, answering, discussing, promising etc. In addition, we exercise these functions within a socio-cultural context. These are the two fundamental elements that make for effective communication, and it is through the interaction between two speakers, or a writer and a reader, that the meaning of a communication becomes clear.
How do our instructors put into practice these basic concepts? The aim of our Italian lessons is to develop proficiency in communication through activities such as games, role-plays, problem solving, dramatizations, and listening and reading comprehension using real recordings and texts. The use of authentic materials provides our students with the opportunity to develop ways of comprehending the Italian language as it is used by native speakers. What renders the approach we use in class particularly effective is the fact that the activities have an immediate, functional impact on our students' communication beyond the classroom. Immersing themselves in the Italian language as it's used outside the school environment (for example in a bar, in a restaurant, at the post office or the train station) allows students to put the strategies they've learned into practice and to get immediate feedback on their capacity to communicate effectively.
This is made much easier in a small town like Montepulciano in which even the shopkeepers and waiters feel they're part of our students' learning process. They're always ready to listen, encourage, advise and even laugh with the students at their more entertaining mistakes.
Within this context the Italian teacher is the point of reference - creating a situation in which students can communicate, explaining the rules at the right time, drawing students into conversation and encouraging those who are having difficulty - without being a dominating presence. We're convinced that our students, while having the constant support of their teacher, must always feel that they are the centre of the learning process. And our results speak for themselves!
Deb K –
I love this school. I chose this school because the web site talked about the small town, the inhabitants who supported the students learning journey, the beauty of the surrounding area, and the experience and credentials of the instructors. Nothing disappointed. I started lessons online with Gaia after COVID scuttled my original plans to attend in April 2020. Those lessons were one on one over zoom two times a week. She was supportive and patient - it cannot be easy hearing a student mangle your beautiful language. I learned so much from her. When I finally arrived in September 2021, I was not a beginner and was placed into a class that supported my knowledge and yet challenged me. My live instructors were enthusiastic and supportive. I had an hour of private tutoring with Gaia after class to reinforce my classroom studies. I learned so much that I am returning for three more weeks this May. I am sharing a flat with a women I met in September. And she is sharing acco...