EV­ERY­ONE HAS THEIR OWN ITALY

The lan­guage of Dante, Verdi and Puc­cini, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, but also the lan­guage of high fash­ion, great wines and the best cui­sine in the world: the Ital­ian lan­guage is an ace in the sleeve and an in­dis­pens­able re­source for fully ex­peri

All About Italy (USA) - - Editorial - Stefano Valen­tini

Ital­ian, one of the best loved lan­guages in the world is usu­ally not stud­ied out of ne­ces­sity or “duty” but sim­ply for the joy of learn­ing what is widely con­sid­ered to be the one of best ways to ex­press one’s pas­sion for food, art, mu­sic, cul­ture and beauty. This is a lan­guage which in­stantly strikes an emo­tional chord and cap­ti­vates any­one who hears it, be­cause its very word seems to ex­press a Mediter­ranean sense of fun and de­light in la bella vita.

It is on this feel­ing of a lan­guage that needs to be fully ex­pe­ri­enced in or­der to be fully ap­pre­ci­ated that the ASILS (the School As­so­ci­a­tion of Ital­ian as a Sec­ond Lan­guage) is based, in its role as an or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes Ital­ian all over the world. It wel­comes a to­tal of 28,000 stu­dents per year in its as­so­ci­a­tion of 44 pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions ac­tive in 10 Ital­ian re­gions, each one of which con­stantly fo­cuses its ac­tiv­i­ties on pro­pos­als with a high value. So as to en­sure the ex­cel­lent qual­ity of their cour­ses for learn­ers the ASILS schools must sat­isfy a num­ber of spe­cific re­quire­ments, and the of­fi­cially em­ployed teach­ing as well as ad­min­is­tra­tive staff all have an ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing. The teach­ers must have a uni­ver­sity de­gree for teach­ing Ital­ian as a sec­ond lan­guage (L2) and they must have had pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in teach­ing Ital­ian as a for­eign lan­guage. The teach­ing plan is in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized: at the very be­gin­ning, a test is car­ried out so as to as­sign each stu­dent to a class with an ap­pro­pri­ate level while mak­ing sure that the num­ber of stu­dents per class does not ex­ceed that which is spec­i­fied by the school in its ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als.

Over 900 teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tive staff work in the var­i­ous schools of the ASILS as­so­ci­a­tion, which al­ways main­tains high stan­dards based on the above­men­tioned pro­fes­sional prac­tices. In ad­di­tion the ASILS schools sup­port those stu­dents who need as­sis­tance in find­ing a place to stay, by pro­vid­ing care­fully mon­i­tored and se­lected ac­com­mo­da­tion be­fore they ar­rive in Italy, so that ev­ery stu­dent can en­joy their ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing in the coun­try in to­tal seren­ity.

ITAL­IAN KNOWS NO BOUND­ARIES

The stu­dents who at­tend the ASILS schools come from all over the world, and the United States of Amer­ica ranks among the top ten coun­tries, with a ma­jor­ity of fe­male stu­dents com­ing from this na­tion. Amer­i­can in­ter­est in the Ital­ian lan­guage is partly due to those Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties that have started to con­duct spe­cial aca­demic pro­grams in Italy. The ASILS was re­cently in­te­grated into the US web­site “Speaks Ital­ian” (www.uss­peak­si­tal­ian.org), which is man­aged di­rectly by the Ital­ian Em­bassy in Washington and is ded­i­cated to study­ing, teach­ing and pro­mot­ing the Ital­ian lan­guage in the United States.

Most of the non-ital­ian for­eign­ers who choose to study at the ASILS schools are young peo­ple who at the time of their en­roll­ment have a very ba­sic level of knowl­edge of Ital­ian and are of­ten ab­so­lute be­gin­ners.

The largest age cat­e­gories are those of 18 to 25 and 26 to 35 years old, but the num­ber of peo­ple study­ing Ital­ian over the age of 50 is also in­creas­ing. The ASILS schools carry out over 340,000 hours of teach­ing a year with an av­er­age stay of 4 to 5 weeks for each stu­dent, whose weekly av­er­age spend­ing, in­clud­ing the to­tal cost of the course and lodg­ing, amounts to 407 eu­ros. Each and ev­ery school has an ac­tive mar­ket­ing ap­proach, with sub­stan­tial in­vest­ments in pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing as well as bud­gets al­lo­cated for pro­mo­tional travel, par­tic­i­pa­tion in fairs and schol­ar­ships for stu­dents. One spe­cial fea­ture of the ASILS schools is that, in ad­di­tion to their usual teach­ing cour­ses, they also make a par­tic­u­lar ef­fort to of­fer nu­mer­ous recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties, so as to stim­u­late so­cial­iza­tion and pro­mote the many won­der­ful at­trac­tions that Italy has to of­fer, rang­ing from its artis­tic and nat­u­ral­is­tic her­itage to food and wine, with the pos­si­bil­ity of many par­tic­i­pat­ing in highly ful­fill­ing vis­its, events and ac­tiv­i­ties. www.asils.it

Francesca Ro­mana Me­moli, Pres­i­dent of ASILS

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