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The mayor George Pippas unveiled a commemoration plaque for the 10th anniversary of La Dante in Cambridge

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The event marked the significant contribution the European Cultural Centre La Dante in Cambridge has had in the community promoting and disseminating language learning and culture

Cambridge – On 24th April 2018 a commemorative plaque was unveiled  outside the European Cultural Centre La Dante in Cambridge during a ceremony that took place at the centre in the heart of the city to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The Mayor of Cambridge, Councellor George Pippas, to mark this milestone said: ‘Cambridge is a great city made up of unique people. We have a strong community of Chinese, Italians, Greeks, Bangladeshis, and Europeans. So it is like a patchwork in which everyone contributes to the success of the city of Cambridge. I am the first European Mayor elected here in Cambridge and I understand the importance of teaching first of all our children how to communicate, but also the adult people. I fully support what the European Cultural Centre is doing and I am fully impressed. I am also impressed to see so many adults. In Cambridge the Educational establishment is well known in the world and we endeavour in working hard to keep these standards very high. I am pleased that La Dante is developing not only a remarkable language experience where people learn Italian and Spanish and English, but has a weight in the cultural impact they have in our community’.

The main aim of the European Cultural Centre La Dante in Cambridge is to promote knowledge and enjoyment of Italian, Spanish, and English language and culture. Since 2008 when the Director Giulia Portuese-Williams founded it, La Dante in Cambridge has played a major role in language learning through its unique communication approach, and combining language and cultural traditions. Over the years, it has established partnerships with the most important cultural educational establishments in Cambridge, such as the University of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Art Language Location, UKTI, Italian Chamber of Commerce, Italian Consulate and Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce to support the community in language learning provisions.

The Director Giulia Portuese-Williams said: ‘When I thought of La Dante, back in 2008, I dreamed of a European Cultural Centre where people of any background came to enjoy language and culture in Italian and Spanish as well as offering English to European students. “We all know how important it is to communicate in a language and how this facilitates understanding and integration in Europe thus improving mutual respect. At La Dante we have young and adult students who are passionate about learning Italian or Spanish and come to our regular film clubs, seminars to keep up their language and discuss modern issues with us. We also run for them a trilingual radio show, Radio Dante, thanks to the help of Cambridge 105 Radio and its facilities. Our oldest student, Margaret, at the age of 90, still enjoys reading in Italian and joins our classes as well as our youngest little student Joseph at the age of 4 playing with every day toys, singing songs in Italian. After all, that dream, back in 2008 became a reality with the support of our wonderful team, students and trustees to whom all my thanks go with all my heart.”

La Dante in Cambridge celebrates its 10th anniversary on February 24th and on April 24th

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Cambridge – The European Cultural Centre La Dante in Cambridge, a not-for-profit cultural association recognised by Dante Alighieri Society in Rome (Italy), is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. For the special occasion there will be an Italian Opera Concert on 24th February 2018, and an official unveiling of a commemorative plaque on 24th April 2018 with the Mayor of Cambridge, George Pippas. The concert, in partnership with the Cambridge University Opera Society, “L’ Elisir D’amore” by Donizetti, will take place at West Road Concert Hall, at 7.45pm (tickets available online at  adcticketing.com/amore  or by telephone at 01223 300085); whereas the official Ceremony with the Mayor Pippas will be held at the European Cultural Centre La Dante, in Hawthorn Way  (The Lodge, Hawthorn Way, off Chesterton Road CB4 1BT) at 12,30pm.

As part of the international organisation La Società Dante Alighieri, which has 500 offices worldwide, La Dante in Cambridge is one of the most prestigious centres in Europe. Its main aim is to promote knowledge and enjoyment of Italian, Spanish, and English language and culture. Since 2008 when the Director Giulia Portuese-Williams founded it, La Dante in Cambridge has played a major role in language learning through its unique communication approach and combining language and cultural traditions. Over the years, it has established partnerships with the most important cultural educational establishments in Cambridge, such as the University of  Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Art Language Location, UKTI, Italian Chamber of Commerce, Italian Consulate and Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce to support the community in language learning provisions.

When Giulia Portuese-Williams thought of La Dante back in 2008, she dreamed of a European Cultural Centre where people of any background could come to enjoy language and culture in Italian and Spanish as well as offering English to European students.  “We all know how important it is to communicate in a language and how this facilitates understanding and integration in Europe thus improving mutual respect,” said the Director, Portuese-Williams, “We have young and adult students who are passionate about learning Italian or Spanish and come to our regular film clubs, seminars to keep up their language and discuss modern issues with us.  Our oldest student, Margaret, at the age of 90, still enjoys reading in Italian and joins our classes as well as our youngest little student Joseph, 4yo, who likes to play with everyday toys and sing songs in Italian. After all, that dream came true back in 2008 with the support of our wonderful team, students and trustees to whom all my thanks go with all my heart.”

The benefits of learning English and tennis

When learning becomes a great language experience deepening yourself in tennis, friendship and enjoyment of the language

There is something special about having a group of talented and keen teenagers from Imperia who enjoy a special English experience in Cambridge. A unique one indeed as this summer 2017, they were learning English in the morning and have tennis coaching in the afternoon with other British teenagers. Filippo Rapone, already a keen tennis player from Pisa had a ‘great experience with British coaches from the Cambridge Tennis Academy’ his mum says. The teacher also introduced tennis vocabulary and sport techniques in their lessons, they talked about volley, serves and deuce to say just a few. The energy that tennis gave the teenagers inspired them in discussing matches and comment on short championships with their heros from British Andy Murray to Spanish Rafael Nadal.

English and tennis, language and sport gave our teenagers great confidence in their body language and expressivity, enhanced their skills and strategies that will also serve them well in life off the court. Tennis is mostly a singular game and because teenagers are out on their own and competing, they learn to

accept responsibilities for their own actions. They have to learn to deal with adversity as well as success and to adapt to different situations and environments. Tennis fosters work ethic, discipline and sportsmanship in teenagers and builds up their strategic and problem solving skills.

Tennis also develops:  a good work ethic discipline
skills to accept responsibilities, a way to cope with stress, physical and mental plans and strategies on how to beat an opponent problems solving skills.

Tennis also teaches sportsmanship at an early age, it teaches teenagers to cope and understand defeat as well as how to deal with success. It builds teamwork in the case of doubles and  skills to communicate effectively with a partner.

Double and single games were played with local teenagers from a secondary school as well as Rounders. Sophie Stamford and Isabella Pellegrini both studying at Hills Road College in Cambridge gave seminars on the British Education system, meals at the school, the school curriculum. Sophie and Isabella (both bilingual Anglo-Italian students) organised cultural outings with the students at the Fitzwilliam Museum and Archaeological Museum, the funny thing was that only at the end of their stay, our Italian students found out they were bilingual at a game of Rounders, it was truly hilarious.

So learning a language at La Dante is not just about studying in a classroom but it’s a continuous, creative, evolving development: through friendship, games and tennis.

This year was such a success that we’ll be running more English and tennis summer camps at La Dante next year in 2018 from July 23rd to the 17th June. 

Find out more: english@ladante-in-cambridge.org

Imparare l’italiano alla Dante e’…un gioco da ragazzi!

Molti genitori, pensando al futuro dei propri figli in una societa’ sempre piu’ globalizzata, decidono di fare loro un enorme regalo: l’apprendimento di una lingua straniera. Il bilinguismo è innegabilmente una grande ricchezza, in quanto permette di confrontarsi con lingue e culture diverse dalla propria, aprendo la mente non solo a un nuovo codice comunicativo, ma anche a una maggiore comprensione e tolleranza nei confronti degli altri. Parlare piu’ lingue, insomma, è una delle abilità più importanti che i vostri figli possano acquisire, fin da piccolissimi.

L’apprendimento linguistico durante la prima infanzia è un processo naturale e privo di sforzo, in quanto i bambini sono dotati di una predisposizione innata per l’acquisizione del linguaggio. Infatti, come dimostrano moltissime ricerche di neuro e psicolinguistica, per  i bambini e’ piu’ semplice imparare una nuova lingua rispetto agli adulti, poiché hanno una maggiore elasticita’ cerebrale, oltre a una grande capacità d’imitazione e una memoria eccellente. Dal punto di vista cognitivo, questo processo aiuta i bambini a migliorare le loro capacita’ di analisi nelle attività di problem-solving, rafforza le loro competenze decisionali e influisce positivamente anche sul loro sviluppo emotivo, in particolar modo quando l’apprendimento e’ accompagnato da attivita’ ludiche con gli insegnanti e il gruppo dei pari. Inoltre, imparare una seconda lingua da piccoli allena l’elasticita’ cerebrale necessaria per apprenderne di nuove in futuro. E’, insomma, un piccolo grande passo verso molti altri traguardi.

In particolare, la lingua italiana e’, per alcuni dei nostri piccoli alunni,  la lingua di un genitore o dei nonni, come nel caso di Matilda, che ci ha raccontato orgogliosa che la sua grandma le diceva sempre “ciao bella!” quando la salutava. Insomma, l’italiano come lingua delle origini, ma anche dei bei ricordi delle vacanze al mare,  di piatti gustosi e di paesaggi incantevoli. Non finisce qui: imparare l’italiano, infatti, e’ un ottimo investimento, in quanto la nostra lingua e’ da sempre riconosciuta come uno strumento di comunicazione d’eccellenza in moltissimi ambiti: dalla letteratura alla gastronomia, dall’arte alla moda e alla musica, e cosi’ via.

I corsi di italiano per bambini alla Dante sono tenuti da esperti insegnanti madrelingua. Negli ultimi mesi, Lucia Vasapollo, Laura Guerrieri e Lucia Casiraghi hanno tenuto corsi individuali e di gruppo, utilizzando un approccio che si e’ rivelato vincente: l’apprendimento linguistico basato sul gioco, in particolare su tecniche di role-play e make-believe. Tutti i nostri corsi hanno avuto risultati decisamente positivi e gratificanti. Con grande attenzione e soddisfazione abbiamo seguito passo passo il processo di apprendimento dei bambini, osservando i progressi di ciascuno e le dinamiche che si sono create tra loro:  vedere i nostri piccoli alunni giocare insieme in italiano e assimilare ad ogni lezione moltissime parole, a volte anche apparentemente difficili, per poi riutilizzarle anche a distanza di settimane, e’ stata un’immensa gioia, che ci ricorda come sia per loro facile e naturale abituarsi all’ascolto di suoni diversi da quelli della propria lingua materna e imitarli senza la paura di sbagliare che spesso blocca noi adulti quando impariamo una lingua straniera.

Abbiamo iniziato dalle piccole cose, come imparare i numeri da 1 a 10 contando i gradini nel percorso verso la classe. Un’abitudine semplice che pero’ ha creato grande coinvolgimento nei bambini, che ben presto hanno iniziato a ripetere i numeri senza l’aiuto dell’insegnante. Una volta in classe, poi, largo alla fantasia! Le lezioni si sono sviluppate tra giochi di ogni genere, storie, canzoni e attivita’ creative. Le bambole, per esempio, ci sono servite per presentare ai bambini il lessico legato alla famiglia, cosi’ come il cibo giocattolo e il registratore di cassa sono stati utilizzati nella simulazione dell’attivita’ di fare la spesa in italiano. “Gelato”, “mela”, “pane”, “torta”…in pochi giorni queste e tante altre parole parole sono diventate familiari, e tutto questo tramite il gioco. Le attivita’ sono state personalizzate seguendo i gusti personali dei bambini, per far si’ che le lezioni fossero ancora piu’ divertenti e coinvolgenti. Matilda e Florence, per esempio, amano gli animali, il mare e le fate. Proprio questi sono stati i protagonisti dei nostri giochi, insieme alle canzoni italiane per bambini legate di volta in volta all’argomento della lezione. Sentirle canticchiare “La pappa al pomodoro” o “Ci vuole un fiore” mentre giocavano e’ stata una bellissima sorpresa.

Tra i giochi piu’ amati, vanno citate le piccole sfide del “chi mi sa dire come si chiama…?”. Con grande tenerezza, abbiamo visto i bambini suggerirsi l’un l’altro le parole italiane per guadagnarsi lo stemma della vittoria. Un personaggio molto amato e’ il pupazzo-marionetta Ippopotamo, che, come i nostri piccoli studenti sanno bene, parla solo italiano e non capisce una parola di inglese. Questo piccolo stratagemma  ha fatto si’ che i bambini si impegnassero a rivolgerglisi nella nuova lingua, l’unico mezzo per poter comunicare con questo simpatico amico.
L’italiano come una nuova lingua, insomma, ma, come dicevamo, per qualcuno di loro e’ allo stesso tempo una lingua antica, legata alle proprie radici. Cio’ che e’ certo e’ che per tutti i nostri alunni e’ una lingua divertente e impararla e’…un gioco da ragazzi!

English for children: learning through games

Learning English for children aged 5-11 years old, their approach to learning through games

When looking for full immersion for kids in Cambridge, look no further as this year with our English teacher Sima Shimi we had a programme that enhanced the confidence in which our children learned in a fun and effective way. This summer we were fortunate to have kids from Greece, Spain and Japan at La Dante. The parents chose us as we have small classes and English CELTA qualified teachers who use a communication method, use realia and lots of role-play. This summer, as the courses were intensive, we decided to get the children involved in interactive video games from the British Council, Learn with Kids site that allowed them to practice memory games, flash cards, tongue twisters, short stories and a lot more. It was such a good feeling to see Shoichiro Todoroki (Japanese) and Javier Villamayor (Spanish) aged 6 learning so fast: they learned numbers in lots of ways from the small ones 1-10 that they learned going up the steps at the school every day to big numbers that they used with British Council games.
As for Claudia (Spanish) and Sakiko (Japanese) aged 9, they were challenged in the group with memory and shopping games from the British Council Learn with Kids. The younger kids got involved too and learned the vocabulary really fast.

The shopping game was very popular of course, they had to use a till to buy toys as well as practicing it with the video game from the British Council Learn with Kids. The involvement of the actual till in the classroom, the toys they liked to buy, the numbers and interactive video games made sure that the kids loved coming over to the lessons, in fact they weren’t lessons in the traditional sense but games, songs and fun based activities with real situations.

In the afternoon, the children spent time at a local Cambridge British school, attending a playscheme where they play action games, do sport activities like rounders and football with British children of the same age. The scheme has been running for the past five years and the results are amazing. The children make friends, build their social skills in English with other children, choose their games as the Playscheme uses a Montessori approach: the children choose what they want to do in the afternoon, who they wish to play with guided by leaders through the day. There are some international children within their groups. All in all it was a successful summer programme this year too and thank the teachers, the kids and the parents for collaborating, see you next summer!!!

What the parents think:
Javier Villamayor:
…what a wonderful time Javier and Claudia had at La Dante in Cambridge! Thank you so much for making possible this wonderful experience for my children!

Atsuko Todoroki:
Sakiko and Shoichiro enjoyed their English class very much, fun based English, nice friends and their teacher was very kind to them. Thank you very much!

English for children: video

Intermediate Spanish intensive course from July 17th-July 21st

Hello amigos! New Spanish Intermediate intensive course starting on July 17th until July 21st, from 7-9pm. The course will be taught by a highly qualified native teacher who will use a communicative approach. Feel free to sign up at marketingladante@gmail.com or (0)1223 315191. Nos vemos pronto!