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Entries about language

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 Comments (0)

Observations in una giornata ventosa

Observations on a windy day

sunny 22 °C

A brisk wind off the Adriatic has prevented our daily beach visit, so to fill in the time whilst Lisa home schools Gabi, a few random thoughts :

Cycling - at least in Northern Italy - appears to be very popular amongst the rank-and-file. Any temptation to titter at the Cadel Evans inspired lycra outfits quickly disappears when they achieve Alberto Contador like speeds on the local roads.

A day visit yesterday to the regional capital Lecce confirmed its' very high rating amongst the various tour guides and travel commentators. Beautifully maintained baroque city that should be on everyone's southern Italian itinerary.

bella Lecce

bella Lecce

Dealings with our 3 landlords to date have been very smooth, somewhat to my surprise. In Moltrasio, our flat was handled by Rachel, an expat Pom who married a local many years ago. The gregarious Denni (short for Danielle) looked after Menaggio. When I asked why her email name was Maria Rossi, she said that it made her sound more Italian ... go figure. I organised our current apartment via Google Translate as Pino the owner is a non parli inglese speaker. I thought I'd done a pretty handy job of crossing the language divide, but Pino saw through my ruse and dragged along his very amicable nephew Luca to translate upon arrival!

The language barrier has undoubtedly prevented us from striking up any meaningful relationships to date, but we are getting by with our handy (Lisa) and mangled (Dan) Italian so far. We will improve with classes in Bologna, but it should be said the locals are very forgiving of those willing to give it a dash.

One very pleasant surprise to emerge thus far has been the cost of many products, from the supermarket shelf through to fancy restaurants. Lisa has already mentioned the memorable meal in Como - four people happily fed to a very high standard and watered for under $50. Other obvious examples are the morning cappuccino and 'cornetto con crema' - irresistable at $2.80; six beautifully fresh rolls for $2.20; perfectly drinkable bottle of local white wine for $4.50; and the list goes on.

beautiful beach; $1.90 beers; what's not to smile about ...

beautiful beach; $1.90 beers; what's not to smile about ...

Posted by happellfamily12 14:26 Archived in Italy Tagged beach language cycling cost_of_living landlords lecce Comments (1)

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