Apr 4 2010, 10:59 AM
I have been reading through some of the blogs on this website and found them useful for information. Therefore I have decided to post my own query in the hope that some advice may help me with some immediate concerns.
I already take Italian lessons here in London (at beginner level) and I have now decided to go over to Italy for an initial period of three months (July/August/September 2010) to help move my language skills on to the next level and to get more immersed in the culture. I am 34, single, and consider this to be the best opportunity to take this experience.
So, I have the whole of Italy to choose from when searching for a school. I have been informed that the north is a better option to learn because there is less regional dialect and the accent may be better for me to learn with.
I am travelling solo and would also like to stay with a family, a couple or even an individual. I do not want to be eating dinner on my own in the evening! I have been making some enquiries through the language schools and as expected, the agencies arrange the host families and it is evident in the price. I would like to avoid the agency if at all possible.
Finally, I am taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. It is not a priority but I would also like to consider an area of Italy where teaching English within a school or privately is an option. It may be something that I consider seriously if I wish to stay longer than three months.
So, can anyone advise on a region in Italy that accommodates for the following:
a. Italian School
c. Possibly Teaching Opportunities
* I can obtain character references from my native Italian teacher if someone can recommend accommodation.
Thank you for any help and advice.
Apr 5 2010, 05:56 AM
I studied only for a week in Sorrento a couple of years ago and lived with an Italian couple. I booked it all through an agency because it was my first time to experience this sort of holiday. It was great to meet people from Canada and Norway and to mix with the locals. It was by far the best way for me to learn Italian, completely submerged in the language and culture. I learnt more in that week than I ever did during my 10 weeks of evening class. The only downside was that having travelled to a number of regions in Italy, I really noticed the Naples local dialect in Sorrento (which most other Italians can't even understand!)and decided that if I was to do it again I would definitely go somewhere in the north.
So my advice to you would be to head to somewhere like Bologna or Verona, but definitely the Emiglia-Romagna/Veneto region because there are good rail links to other cities/towns/sites to visit. There are plenty of schools you can study at which can be booked through the internet and I'm sure you can find reviews on each school. Then search on Tripadvisor for a good B&B in the town you'd like to stay in. You can get some good deals especially if you are staying longer and if you email them they may even recommend other options to you. Italians usually like to help others so don't be afraid to ask them. I have stayed at a few Italian B&B's and quite often the owners would ask me to join them for a drink or dinner. Also you'll be meeting people at the school and you may go for dinner with them, plus the fact you'll be IN Italy, you won't be eating alone for long! Biggest tip I can give you is to frequent somewhere i.e bar for your morning espresso or an afternoon snack and get to know the locals. Don't be afraid to chat to them and practice your Italian, they will welcome you. Last time I was in Italy I chatted to a local and he said "Why are the English so frightened all the time?" Maybe if he lived here he'd understand!
Well I hope some of my advice helps you to make some decisions and investigate further. You'll have a fab time and the experiences will remain with you forever.
Buona fortuna e divertenti!
Apr 5 2010, 08:30 AM
I studied twice at the Universitą di Pisa summer school for foreigners many years ago. It was then held in Viareggio in a boys. boarding school. Some students lived in the school (I was one) and others stayed with families in town. Several years ago, I attended the excellent Koinč School in Forence. They have schools also in Bologna, Lucca, on Elba, and in Cortona. I stayed in a nearby convent, which I arranged myself. In three weeks I leave for Taormina (Sicily) where I'll attend the Scuola Babilonia for a month. The school is well-regarded and several people I know who have been there say it's excellent. I'll be renting a studio apartment, which the school arranged for me.
Most language schools will help you arrange accommodation. You don't have to go through an agency. I know there are agencies on the Internet that will arrange the whole thing for you -- school and accommodation -- but you pay a hefty price because they mark up everything. Cheaper to do it through the school. They usually offer independent or shared apartments, home stays with families, or can suggest local hotels and pensioni. I know several people who have done home stays. Reviews are mixed. If you get a family or a person who is interested in knowing you and socializing enought to support your language learning, it's great. However, some hosts apparently just want a little extra income and make little effort to include their student guests, so it isn't a friendly experience. A couple of people I know had disappointing home stay experiences -- then again, others enjoyed their home stay hosts.
Whatever accommodation you choose, you'll meet people to go around with once you're at the school. Don't worry about being alone for dinner!
Apr 24 2010, 03:11 AM
This is really valuable information for me. I really appreciate the time you have taken to provide the advice.
I am beginning to narrow down my choice of location, with Bologna very high on the list. I am just weighing up the schools and in particular the family accommodation. I was particularly interested in the comment "If you get a family or a person who is interested in knowing you and socializing enough to support your language learning" and using this when communicating with the schools. It is a must have in my opinion.
Please expect to hear from me again as I am sure that as I get closer to the departure, I will have more questions.
Nov 29 2012, 09:15 AM
As a followup to my previous post, the Scuola Babilonia in Taormina turned out to be very good, with many free activities in the afternoons (weekly movies, an hour's lecture on the Italian news of the week, language learning games) and optional paid excursions.
The absolute best experience, however, was the three-month course I took last year at the Universitą per Stranieri di Perugia. It's a far more rigorous and broad program than the private language schools. If you're really serious, that's the place to go. I'm going back in February 2013.
There's also a university for foreigners in Siena that has a good reputation but la Stranieri in Perugia is the top place in Italy to study the language. There are also Italian students in attendance studying, for example, for master's degrees in teaching Italian to foreigners.
I know this is long past the original post, but maybe the information will be useful to others.
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