“Vuoi imparare l’italiano?”
There are those that want to learn English, those that are fascinated by the French charm, and those who, instead, learn the language of the “dolce vita”. The status of Italian as a foreign language is definitely worth my first post on Fair Languages. Why do people decide to learn Italian?
Being a teacher of Italian to foreigners, tutoring students from all over the world, I have come up with some ideas. First of all, people who learn Italian are a different category of students. Should we call them students in the first place? It is true that for some of them there are professional reasons behind their choice, but here I am talking about the majority of them. When I think of a student, I immediately recall school homework, grammar exercises and tests, university exams and so on. I would define a learner of Italian more of an enthusiast, just as we might be fully in love with football, art or music.
I will list 5 reasons why a person would decide to learn Italian:
1. Musicality. Being Italian I am not immediately aware of this fact, but all my students told me that Italian is a “musical language”. A language that is pleasant to hear. I think the nearest I have ever experienced was hearing a Norwegian speaking his language – I must recognize I literally fell in love with that, which I believe is something that happens to thousands of people with Italian all over the world.
2. Warmth. Family bonds are very important in Italy. Children are given care and affection throughout their whole life, no matter how old they are. Despite it may look weird to foreigners’ eyes, this is what secretly appeals to many Italian enthusiasts – the idea that there is always out there a person or a group of people called ‘home’. A feeling that an Italian language teacher should convey in his/her lessons.
3. Beauty. Italy is full of beauty – art, women. An eye-candy that adds up to the musicality of the language, which makes a language lesson a real pleasure.
4. Creativity. Whether it is food, business or other pursuits, Italian are creative. Also during a language lesson. So expect it to be often unpredictable, which is usually appreciated by the learners.
5. Last but not least, everything we do, with do it with passion. Our body language says a lot about that. I often tell my students: “you can’t see that, but outside the webcam frame I am using so many gestures while speaking to you!”. We are theatrical and passionate, because we believe that what we put in, we get back.
What are the consequences of this on language teaching? Italian tutors should build their personal brand on these 5 basic pillars, which represent what I like to call “the Italian experience”, and make their lesson unique and up to the learners’ expectations. Simply by letting our Italian soul express itself fully we will make every class something our “enthusiasts” look forward to.
Picture by Pedro Szekely via Flickr