A novel approach to learning Italian, for all levels of ability

Putting theory into practice: This year's language group enjoy an Italian lunch.

Putting theory into practice: This year’s language group enjoy an Italian lunch.

Here’s a question a lot of people have been asking about The Watermill’s Italian Language course: Is it suitable for all levels of ability in speaking Italian? And the answer? An emphatic Yes!  So come and join us next May (more details below).

Language bertrand-schwartz1This is because of the special approach of our colleagues from the prestigious language school in Florence, Langues Services. Its philosophy and method are inspired by the work of Professor Bertrand Schwartz of Paris University, the educationalist who overturned the concept of teaching to adults, proposing an approach that develops not only theoretical knowledge but practical know-how as well. The aim is to enhance the personal qualities of each student, tailoring the teaching to their needs and ambitions and establishing mutual, active and confident relationships, where the student is the true protagonist in the course. The motto is ‘action first, knowledge after.’

Language FrancescaYour teacher/tutor, Francesca La Sala, explains the core of their approach: “Our aim is to make the learning process as natural as possible; so imagine, when you’re abroad and you deal with a ordinary situation – whether it’s buying something or having a lovely dinner with a group of new friends – you won’t divide people depending on their knowledge of a language: you’ll try to pick words, meanings, maybe comparing sounds; you’ll use your primary senses to try and understand; your effort to observe and listen will be at its best, you’ll use your intuition, your imagination and your memory; and if someone sitting next to you at a table doesn’t understand when you do, you’ll translate for them: and that word or that phrase will remain in your memory more than a thousand others repeated by heart reading a grammar book alone in your house.” 

italian market panorame Francesca adds: “Mixing up different levels can be a powerful resource, where those who know more will be encouraged to be active and ‘teach’ what they know to those who know less, thus becoming more confident and assimilating their skills; and those who know less are motivated to push themselves forward. Mixing up different levels/people makes the course more creative, less unyielding, more realistic! “When we do the ‘formal’ lessons (about 20 hours during the week), you’ll be divided in small homogeneous teams, so that we can cover a certain grammar issue at different levels and from different points of view, but still the lessons will be held all together.

The lessons will be very interactive anyway, you’ll be asked to be the very protagonists in the ‘formal’ lessons too. To guarantee the highest quality of the teaching/learning process, the group won’t have more than 12 participants.”
How will we find out about you and your needs? Francesca says: “As soon as every participant books the course, they’ll be asked to fill a form, a sort of CV of your knowledge of the Italian language, to find not only about the Italian courses you took and understand your level, but also to learn about the kind of ‘relationship’ you have with the Italian language, and your interests and hobbies… so that I can prepare a course plan that suits your needs and expectations. Of course many things will be changed, improved and decided together, once we meet at The Watermill, and start to know each other.”

Taking the train for a Cinque Terre adventure

Taking the train for a Cinque Terre adventure

Sounds inspiring. We can’t wait to meet everybody – and improve our Italian, too!
The next week-long Italian language course will run from Saturday 7 May to Saturday 14 May 2016 and you can find more details by clicking here.

A comment from one of last year’s guests: “A super language week. Well organised giving us a taste of ” real Italy” Francesca was amazing. Despite the disparity in ability she managed to help all of us towards a better understanding and production of the Italian language. The lessons were fun, interactive and helped me enormously. For a teacher to be ” on duty” from 8.30am until bedtime – teaching us in each situation – must have been exhausting yet she kept her sense of fun throughout. The accommodation was great and the camaraderie which evolved was, I’m sure, due to your relaxed and welcoming approach to your guests.”

Language pic 1


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