Italian language and cultural school for foreigners
The most frequent educational activities provided
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Our method for learning Italian

In addition to grammar and syntax, there are four skills required to learn Italian - reading, writing, listening and speaking - which need to be studied and developed right from the first level, to achieve understanding and expression in authentic communicative situations.

For this reason situations are simulated in the classroom using authentic teaching materials. Structures and vocabulary are adapted to the lower levels and become progressively more complex until, at advanced levels, different types of text are used to encourage the recognition and reproduction of different language styles.

Lesson on Italian verbs
Italian lesson on syntactic structures
Conversation to learn Italian
Italian grammar lesson
Games to learn Italian

However, beyond our methods, we consider our students central to the learning process. Their knowledge, motivation, character and previous experience are considered fundamental values that must always be taken into consideration for effective and stimulating learning; these values ​​cannot be conditioned by any teaching method.

Nevertheless, the awareness that students have previous studying, motivational, learning styles and experiences, and even very different school models has lead the school to reject methodological dogmatism.

The initial choice of the communicative approach, has been maintained over the years, all the while upgrading and integrating the school's teaching through the exploration of new techniques and methodologies.

The communicative approach reverses the traditional method of learning a language: rather than beginning from individual elements learned in isolation to be assembled into complex linguistic units, we proceed with the language in its entirety and then analyse the different components.

In fact, in a standard lesson, which is four hours, activities and materials that refer to different approaches are used alternately: the notional-functional approach mainly in relation to grammatical points, situational approach to work on lexical points and on language structure, audiolingual and audiovisiual approach to practice listening skills, along with strategic interaction when roleplaying, simulation, and other activities are introduced.

A standard lesson is divided into two modules: in the first part of the lesson we concentrate on grammatical structure and reading and writing skills, in the second part on the oral skills of production and comprehension.

Levels of knowledge of Italian

The structure and content of the programmes for all levels are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (C.E.F.R.)

Framework of
European reference
Corresponding levels
Centro Machiavelli
Certificate
Basic level A1 Level 1+, Level 2 CILS A1
A2 Level 2+, Level 3 CILS A2
Independent level B1 Level 3+, Level 4 CILS B1
B2 Level 5 CILS B2
Proficiency level C1 Advanced C1 CILS C1
C2 Advanced C2 CILS C2

Teaching of Italian as a second language

Teaching Italian at the Centro Machiavelli school is based on a communicative method focusing on those aspects of language that are most useful for achieving effective linguistic interaction.

The course that most of the students follow is divided into two lessons of two hours each. The first lesson is grammar, dedicated to the underlying structures of the language, the next is conversation, putting it into practice in real and simulated communicative situations.

The separation in two lessons, which is frequently used in many Italian schools for foreigners, is due to practical reasons: there are people who only want to practice Italian, others who have no particular interest in studying grammar and others who, for economic reasons, definitely prefer to choose just one of the two sections.

Teaching of the second language must adapt to student needs in a very accurate way. Often these requirements are spelled out in a direct way, sometimes they emerge only during the course. 
It is not just a question of learning Italian quickly and well for educational needs, but also for other reasons. Often, and above all, the teacher must keep the lessons light, fun and playful. The motivational aspect then becomes particularly important where the teacher also plays the role of entertainer and not just a linguistic provider.

The result of these components is a very satisfactory mediation between teaching and all other components present in the desire/need of the student to learn (general needs, motivations, prejudices, cultural and personal limitations, etc.).

Grammar

The most traditional part of the course, mainly the lecture, usually starts with observation first, and then the explanation of a particular structural aspect of the language: the present, the recent past, the definite article, the adverbs of time etc., followed by a series of structural exercises centred on the theme in question, involving all participants in the creation of contextualised examples, pertinent to the discussion. Students are encouraged to participate whenever they feel the need to ask questions, as for clarifications and insights. If someone has a problem, the class is encouraged to reflect and to seek a common solution.
With regards to structural exercises, since the existing materials on the market are not entirely sufficient, the teachers have developed additional material, for all the expected levels. Each teacher is free to choose the material that is most appropriate, while sticking to the programme provided for that level and indicated in the teaching objectives in class registers.

Conversation

In the conversation section of the class, participation of students is stimulated as much as possible and consequently the lesson is less lecture-styled than the grammar one with much more group or pair work.
During these hours, the playful component is important; recent glottodidactics reiterate that learning while forgetting that you are in school constitutes an excellent learning strategy.
Students are repeatedly encouraged to express themselves freely without being slowed down with the search for grammatical perfection in their conversation. In this phase (beginners up to A2) communication effectiveness, the achievement of immediate communication purposes must be top priority. In addition, the student is not interrupted while talking but the teacher takes note of errors and makes them the topic of discussion at a later time.

The school uses books that contain a lot of games and activities to be performed in a group; one of the main purposes is to overcome emotional barriers, what glottodidactics call "affective filter", which, for example, is an obstacle for many to speak freely, to expose themselves verbally in front of the entire class.
The differences among the participants (cultural, personal, geographical origin, schooling, existential and work experience) are still constant challenges that a teacher must face.
Aside from guided conversations and written activities there is also the use of audiovisual material, especially CDs that come out with books and specific scenes of Italian films and videos.

The internet also provides a great deal of material that is suitable for processing into teaching materials. To give just one example, newspaper articles can be modified quickly and turned into activities for classroom purposes. This means teachers can keep up with current events which is always greatly appreciated by students.

As for conversation, the basic communication goals that students should achieve by attending the specific course are listed in our class registers.