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Scuola di lingua Italiana

verbi, participio passato, aggettivi ... It's all Italian to us!

overcast 10 °C

One of the key reasons for spending a prolonged period of time in Bologna was to improve our Italian language skills. The city has a solid reputation for providing good language courses, in part because of the many hundreds (thousands?) of international university students needing to improve their 'understood' Italian to be able to complete their chosen field of study at the world's oldest university.

Lisa was already an intermediate level student when we arrived in Italy this time around, and has tallied another 130-odd hours at language school to improve her 'every day' spoken skills dramatically (she feels she may not have taken such a quantum leap on the grammatical side!). Mia moglie (my wife) commenced with six intensive weeks of 20 hours/week, but has now eased off to just two evenings a week for 3 hours at a time to keep things ticking over. An exam (voluntary, amazingly enough) looms large in December, causing some sleepless nights. Her dedication has been impressive ...

exam time : books ... check, wine ... check, now where are those 'no doze'??

exam time : books ... check, wine ... check, now where are those 'no doze'??

I undertook some valuable beginner studies in Sydney, but still classified myself squarely in the learner bracket for my recent reintroduction to this beautiful, and somewhat elusive language. Like Lisa, I have started at a place called ARCA (www.arca-bologna.com), which is a 20 minute walk, or 8 minute bike ride, on the other side of town. The cost for three weeks (4 hours/day x 5 days/week) is 550 euro - about AUD 680 on current exchange rates. Class sizes are between 4-8, depending on demand, and the format is 2 hours in the classroom (9am-11am), 1 hour at the local bar for a caffe, pastry and chat with all enrolled studenti (in Italian if skills allow!), and then another hour back in class (finishing around 1pm). Homework is given most nights, and takes around 30-40 minutes plus whatever time you want to spend relearning the day's lessons.

Doorway to Heaven? ARCA is in a pretty side-street close to lovely Piazza Santo Stefano

Doorway to Heaven? ARCA is in a pretty side-street close to lovely Piazza Santo Stefano

break and chat time for Lisa's group (when weather was warmer than now obviously ...)

break and chat time for Lisa's group (when weather was warmer than now obviously ...)

So how has it gone after a week? Plenty of plusses : a terrific teacher by the name of Ludovico - a nice Bolognese guy who is enthusiastic, patient, clear, and interested. For an Italian he is also very well travelled, with an Indonesian girlfriend, so makes for good company when we need a break from the verbi, and more verbi! Class size has also been a bonus - usually four of us - and five if Maizun (spelling?) from Palestine turns up. The other class members are from America - Lou from Vermont via New Jersey (my soccer buddy), Justin from California via Pennsylvania, and Anne from California via North Carolina (Other classes being held at ARCA at the moment are not so mono-cultural, with Russian, German, Dutch, English, Spanish, Brazilian, and even Mongolian representatives). All our class are pretty motivated, and the day goes quickly with quite a few laughs.

break and chat time for Dan's (extended) group ... nice bar, interesting people, brain fries after 15 minutes of solid parlo Italiano however ...

break and chat time for Dan's (extended) group ... nice bar, interesting people, brain fries after 15 minutes of solid parlo Italiano however ...

The teaching style I found brutal to start with - around 80% spoken in Italian (for what was meant to be a beginner class) - as Justin said, "submersion" not "immersion"! Ludovico has gone a bit easier on us since then (after a quiet word), but all in all I'd have to say it is beneficial to have to keep pushing yourself to comprehend what's being said, and then learn the lesson that flows from that.

Anne, Ludovico (Mr Patient), Justin, Lou ... with something to say, surprisingly enough!

Anne, Ludovico (Mr Patient), Justin, Lou ... with something to say, surprisingly enough!

I won't harp too much on the minuses, but some obvious areas to fix for ARCA are proper pre-commencement testing to correctly ascertain your level; more teachers made available so people with too wide a skill range are not lumped together; and finally more structure to the course including a decent course book, or at the least some notes!

Anyway, two more weeks to go which Lou and I are looking forward to (we're sort of mates-in-arms for this stint), and then I'll see about (the worth of) further studies post-Christmas.

Posted by happellfamily12 15:57 Archived in Italy Tagged language italian

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