I’ve done my teaching training in “Italian as a Foreign Language” in a respected Language School in Salerno, my hometown, and at the local University, while I was getting my DITALS I certification issued by the “University for Foreigners”, Siena (it’s a certification as a Teacher of Italian as a Second Language, especially focused on adult learners). Besides that, I gave classes privately to beginners, pre-intermediate and intermediate students.
My teaching method is totally student-oriented. I think motivation and expected results are the key elements to be taken into account to develop an effective, personalized programme of studies.
Teaching Italian abroad is quite different from teaching in Italy. My English students in Brighton don’t have many chances to practise outside the class. Besides that, among fellow students they naturally tend to speak English, unlike what happens in a multilingual class, where Italian has more chances to become their lingua franca, or “bridge language”.
All the above is obviously affecting my teaching strategies. I’m insisting on speaking skills, since that’s what students have the least access to, while they can still read and hear Italian from a variety of resources freely available on the web. I mostly speak Italian myself, to provide students with terms and structures to be reused straightaway throughout the lesson.
To encourage students to speak, it’s extremely important to set a relaxed and non-judgemental atmosphere. Students should be aware that their mistakes are not only inevitable, but represent an invaluable contribution to the progress of the whole class, teacher included! To cut it short, I dare say: “The most mistakes, the better” 🙂
As to the texts, I insist on contemporary, authentic material to help students feel involved in what they need study. For instance, if you are a big football fan and your favourite team is going to play against an Italian one, won’t you feel curious to know how do Italian newspapers cover the event? Well, I’ll try and have you read what they say…
Learning Italian is not limited to non-native students: I keep learning Italian everyday!