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.).
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.
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.