Natale ai tempi del Covid-19 con i messaggi online a Santa Claus

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Il Natale è una delle feste più sentite dell’anno. Durante questa ricorrenza, le città si riempiono di luci che illuminano le vie del centro e in molte zone sono allestiti mercatini, dove è possibile degustare cibi tipici e acquistare oggetti fatti a mano. In Italia le tradizioni sono varie, diffuse da nord a sud. A differenza di molti altri Paesi europei, qui si è soliti far coincidere l’inizio delle festività con il giorno dell’Immacolata Concezione, l’8 dicembre, giornata in cui si cominciano anche ad allestire il presepe e l’albero di Natale. In molti quest’anno si sono anticipati. E` stato un fenomeno abbastanza diffuso. Con più tempo da trascorrere in casa, con il desiderio di sentirci meglio e di colorare in qualche modo queste giornate dai toni grigi, molti hanno fatto prima del solito, già alla fine del mese di novembre. Quanto riscaldano le lucine colorate degli alberi di Natale? Ci riportano istantaneamente a quando da bambini tuffavamo lo sguardo tra i rami dell’abete nell’attesa che Babbo Natale ci portasse i suoi doni. Questa tradizione legata all’albero natalizio ha origini antiche. C’è chi fa risalire le sue origini al 1441, quando nella piazza centrale del Municipio di Tallin, in Estonia, fu eretto un abete gigantesco attorno al quale giovani single ballavano in gruppo alla ricerca dell’anima gemella, e chi invece al XIII secolo, a Basilea, in Svizzera. In Italia si diffuse nella seconda metà dell’Ottocento grazie alla Regina Margherita di Savoia che ne fece addobbare uno nel Palazzo del Quirinale, dando il via a una vera e propria moda che si diffuse rapidamente in tutta la penisola. La tradizione vuole poi che l’albero si tolga, insieme a presepe e decorazioni, il 6 gennaio. Molti hanno addobbato i propri abeti, simbolo di convivialità, famiglia e amore durante le feste, in solitaria “Quest’anno non sarà come gli altri, ma il Natale è la festa della rinascita e della speranza” – ci ha detto qualcuno. Natale 2020 naturalmente, a causa della pandemia da Covid-19, non sarà come i precedenti e non si potranno prevedere veglioni, festeggiamenti, baci e abbracci. A tavola ci potranno essere massimo sei parenti stretti: sarebbero queste le nuove raccomandazioni e regole per le festività. Anche la Messa del 24 notte fara` i conti con l’ultimo Dpcm. La sera della vigilia di Natale, infatti, si dovrà rientrare presso la propria abitazione entro le 22:00. La messa di Natale sarà quindi anticipata alle 20:00.

 

Zampognaro scozzese a Londra

Sara`un Natale dall’aspetto nuovo e particolare: anche gli Zampognari, figure amate e molto diffuse nell’Italia centro-meridionale, che nel periodo natalizio girano per le strade suonando lo strumento antico della zampogna dovranno indossare la mascherina naturalmente o tenersi lontani dalla folla mentre suonano. Questo senz’altro però non li fermerà dall’allietare le strade con la loro musica.

Insomma, che questo sarà un Natale in sicurezza e all’insegna del distanziamento è fuor di dubbio anche per tutti i Babbo Natale che incontrano centinaia di bambini ogni anno. Ma nulla è perduto. Da tutto questo, infatti, è nata un’iniziativa particolare, Dillo con Babbo Natale” (Say it with Santa). In cosa consiste? Chiunque potrà chiedere a Babbo Natale in Finlandia, tramite il sito online, di trasmettere il proprio messaggio di positività e affetto ai propri cari e amici, tutto ciò che basta in questo momento. Babbo Natale ha già ricevuto migliaia di messaggi che saranno raccolti in un video che sarà condiviso sui social. Detto questo, auguriamo a tutti un Natale sereno e sicuro con ciò che, come ci ha insegnato questo periodo complicato, davvero conta nella vita: amore, buoni sentimenti e famiglia.

 

Carlotta Casolaro

Discover Radio Dante!

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RADIO DANTE HISTORY

Radio  Dante started to be broadcast on  3rd  March  2012,  founded by  Director  Dr. Giulia Portuese-Williams of the European Cultural Centre La Dante in Cambridge. The main objective of La Dante is the dissemination of European languages and cultures, in particular Italian, Spanish and English.

In 8 years, we have produced more than 100 radio programmes, trained 60 interns in radio broadcasting and marketing, built collaborations with  Colleges and Universities all over Europe and with La Dante Alighieri Society’s 500 offices around the world.

 

TRILINGUAL PODCASTS

Radio Dante broadcasts every two weeks with half an hour in English and half an hour in Spanish or Italian on Cambridge 105 radio. We also publish our podcasts on Radio Dante’s website, on La Dante in Cambridge’s website, on Spotify , on our Facebook account and on other social media.

 

THEMES

We cover cultural themes on our radio programmes:

MUSIC

We broadcast from classical to pop music. Moreover, we interview professional musicians who speak about their music, their artistic journey.

 

 

 

 

HISTORY

Knowing our roots allows us to discover the historical links that bind us to other countries. Our team is made up of people of different nationalities, which enriches the historical topics our journalists cover.

 

 

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

We also offer our listeners advice on language learning and other topics to enrich their lives and develop their skills.

 

TRADITIONS

To know the traditions of a community is to understand the way in which they relate among family, friends and the environment. Thanks to the multiculturalism of our team, we can tell our listeners all about the traditions of each region from different perspectives.


Pictures of our team at the broadcast studio

 

PARTNERSHIPS

We have been working for the past 8 years with the Department of Italian and the Department of Spanish at Cambridge University where academics often come and participate to interviews (this has happened prior to the pandemic).

Over 60 University Students chose us for a successful professional internships over the years, knowing the work experience at La Dante is valuable and well regarded all over the world. We have partnerships with the Universities of Valencia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Seville in Spain as well as the Universities of Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Siena in Italy.

 

RECOGNITIONS

We are recognized by the British Government and by La Dante Alighieri Society, which is a a Cultural non-for-profit organization with 500 offices around the world.

7 Reasons to Learn a New Language

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WHY STUDY ANOTHER LANGUAGE?
AND WHY STUDY ITALIAN OR SPANISH?

 

1. Connect!We can improve the way we speak

One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect with others.  Being able to communicate with someone in his or her language is an incredible gift. Bilinguals have the unique opportunity to communicate with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives.

 

Connect with the world

2. Advance Your Career

Language skills can be a significant competitive advantage that sets you apart from your monolingual peers. Learning a second language also opens additional doors to opportunities for studying or working abroad.

 

3. Feed Your Brain 

The many cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. People who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills. They switch between competing tasks and monitor changes in their environment more easily than monolinguals, as well as display signs of greater creativity and flexibility. If that weren’t enough, as we age, being bilingual or multilingual also helps to stave off mental aging and cognitive decline.

 

Madrid Gran Via

 

4. Deepen Your Connection to Other Cultures

Language is the most direct connection to other cultures. Being able to communicate in another language exposes us to and fosters an appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the people associated with that language.

 

 

Firenze

5. See the World

Traveling as a speaker of the local language can revolutionize a trip abroad. While monolingual travelers are capable of visiting the same places, travelers who know more than one language are more easily able to navigate outside the tourist bubble and to connect and interact with the place and its people in a way that is often inaccessible to those without the language.

 

6. Boost Your Confidence

Any language learner can attest to making his or her share of mistakes while discovering a new language—often in front of an audience. It’s a necessary part of the learning process! Learning a language means putting yourself out there and moving out of your comfort zone. The upside is the amazing sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when conversing with someone in their native language.

 

 

7. Gain Perspective

As we explore a new language and culture, we naturally draw comparisons to what is most familiar. Learning about another culture sheds light on aspects of our own culture—both positive and negative—we may not have previously considered. You may find a greater appreciation for what you have, or you may decide to shake things up!

Aprendizajes y celebraciones en una cuarentena

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Entrevista a Claudia

España ha sido uno de los países más afectados por el Coronavirus a nivel mundial. De marzo a junio, la totalidad del país se vio sumido en una estricta cuarentena de 3 meses y 15 días, lo que constituyó un hito sin precedentes para toda la población.

Se han visto múltiples noticias a nivel internacional, sin embargo, ¿cómo fue vivir la experiencia realmente? Claudia, una adolescente de 17 años, nos responde a cómo fue vivida la cuarentena desde su pueblo en el Alto Palancia, Altura.

Altura es un pueblo del interior de España de aproximadamente 3500 habitantes, con costumbres y festividades muy arraigadas en las que participa activamente toda la población autóctona y la de los municipios vecinos. Esto ha creado, a lo largo de los años, un fuerte sentimiento de comunidad que también comparte Claudia, ya que es alturana y ha vivido toda su vida en este entorno: “Nos apoyamos mucho los unos a los otros y la pandemia me ayudó a saber cuáles eran las personas que verdaderamente me importaban”, afirma la entrevistada.

No obstante, en un inicio, se le vino el mundo encima al enterarse de que tendrían que estar confinados: “Soy consciente de que no volveré a tener esta edad y pensé que este sería un año perdido. Sin embargo, conforme fueron pasando los meses, a pesar de que tuve muchos momentos de crisis, aprendí muchas cosas. La primera fue una nueva forma de vivir la música”.

  1. Una nueva forma de vivir la música

“Tan siquiera sabía que había altavoces distribuidos por todo el pueblo, pero no hubo un día en el que no se escuchara música. Durante 30 o 40 minutos, a las 6 de la tarde, se escuchaba tanto Flying Free, Un beso y una flor o canciones de La Bella y la Bestia.

Claudia nos cuenta la importancia de la música durante la cuarentena, ya que sirvió para unir y animar a la gente a pesar de la distancia. Asimismo, nuestra entrevistada forma parte de la banda musical de Altura, a través de la cual los miembros se animaron los unos a los otros enviándose vídeos para seguir compartiendo su pasión por la música ante la imposibilidad de reunión.

“Tampoco se pudieron celebrar las fiestas como siempre, así que inventamos nuevas formas de vivirlas a través de la música. Con motivo de San José, todos los músicos de la Comunidad Valenciana salimos a los balcones a tocar “Amparito Roca” y “Paquito el Chocolatero”. Había un directo en Internet para poder seguirlo. Fue muy emocionante sentir cómo nuestra esencia de celebración, fiesta y tradición no podía perderse”.

  1. Carnavales improvisados

La entrevistada afirma que uno de los mejores recuerdos del confinamiento fueron los carnavales online que acabaron surgiendo de forma espontánea entre los jóvenes del Alto Palancia: “Inicialmente, usábamos Houseparty para estar en contacto con nuestros amigos, y como las llamadas eran abiertas, acababan entrando otras personas del Alto Palancia para animarnos y darnos fuerzas los unos a los otros. No sabemos cómo ocurrió, pero esto llevó a una especie de carnaval online diario, donde la gente entraba disfrazada a las conversaciones y el resto tenía que adivinar quiénes eran. Es una de esas cosas especiales que jamás me habría esperado que ocurriese. Acabamos todos disfrazados, disfraces en ocasiones verdaderamente originales y divertidos, riéndonos y fortaleciendo vínculos con personas con las que tal vez no teníamos tanta relación”.

  1. Tradiciones que se suman

La tradición más importante en Altura es la del Berro, celebrado el 25 de marzo. Esta debía de haberse celebrado unos días después de que empezase la cuarentena en España, pero los alturanos, decidieron que no se quedarían sin celebrar una de sus fiestas más importantes: “Ya que no teníamos muchas formas de poder expresar que estábamos celebrando el nacimiento del Berro, decidimos salir con cacerolas a nuestras ventanas para crear una mascletá antes de que Zarzoso tirara la oficial. Las camareras de la fiesta tiraron fuegos artificiales y la banda salía a sus balcones a tocar los pasodobles tradicionales. ¡Teníamos que celebrar nuestra fiesta, hombre!”.

  1. Un verano diferente

Con la llegada del verano llegó también una “nueva normalidad” al territorio español, y ante la imposibilidad de hacer las mismas cosas que otros años, Claudia aprendió a vivir el verano de una forma distinta: “Estuvimos mucho más en contacto con la naturaleza. No podíamos salir de fiesta, pero descubrimos que había tantos sitios a los que ir: miradores, montañas, playas, calas… En definitiva, ha sido un verano increíble”.

  1. Selectividad y el futuro

Claudia actualmente estudia el último año de bachiller, por lo que confiesa estar inquieta ante la posibilidad de que esta situación pueda afectar a su futuro en la universidad: “Estamos todos un poco perdidos y tampoco los profesores saben qué decirnos”.

Por otro lado, la entrevistada espera no tener que volver a una situación de confinamiento, aunque sí considera que la pandemia ha tenido su parte positiva: “Tanto para lo bueno como para lo malo, voy recordar por siempre este año y todas las cosas que he aprendido. Es extraño, pero cuanto más inestable es tu entorno, más fuertes se hacen los vínculos con las personas que te quieren y a las que quieres. Ahora ya sé que aunque cosas negativas e incontrolables ocurran, tengo no solo a mi familia y amigos, sino a toda una comunidad que se hace fuerte ante las adversidades”.

 

In tutto il mondo si avviano le celebrazioni per i 700 anni dalla morte di Dante Alighieri

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Tra pochi mesi entreremo nell’anno in cui ricorrono i settecento anni dalla morte di Dante Alighieri, avvenuta nel 1321. Agli inizi di settembre si sono aperte le celebrazioni nazionali di questo importante Settecentesimo anniversario, alla presenza del presidente della Repubblica, Sergio Mattarella, a Ravenna, luogo in cui morì il Sommo Poeta (il servizio del Tgr Toscana). Per l’occasione è stata restaurata la tomba e  la serata si è conclusa con il canto XXXIII del Paradiso, l’ultimo della Divina Commedia, recitato dall’attore Elio Germano. Il ricco calendario di iniziative dedicate al padre della lingua italiana riguarderà non solo Ravenna e la regione Emilia Romagna, ma l’intero Paese. Fino a settembre 2021, infatti, saranno coinvolti circa 70 comuni e molti luoghi legati a Dante, come il castello di Gradara, la rocca che secondo la leggenda ha fatto da sfondo al tragico amore di Paolo e Francesca di cui e` raccontato nella Divina Commedia.

“Commemorare Dante”, ha detto Alessandro Masi, segretario generale della Società Dante Alighieri, ”significa rendere omaggio al padre della nostra lingua e ad un caposaldo della letteratura europea e mondiale. Significa anche celebrare il simbolo che racconta al mondo l’Italia, il suo umanesimo e la sua identità fatta di bellezza e accoglienza”.

Chi era Dante Alighieri sommo poeta

Nato a Firenze nel 1265, Dante (battezzato Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri)  è considerato il padre della lingua italiana e uno dei simboli più rappresentativi della nostra cultura in tutto il mondo. La sua “Comedìa”, divenuta famosa come Divina Commedia, da secoli è considerata la più grande opera scritta in lingua italiana e uno dei capolavori della letteratura mondiale. Descrive un viaggio nell’aldilà, toccando con mano i drammi e le sofferenze dei dannati, le pene a cui sono sottoposti (a seconda dei peccati di cui si sono macchiati) e le glorie cui hanno diritto. Un viaggio nella storia e nell’uomo, tra emozioni, speranze e sentimenti eterni.

A ravvivare ogni anno la memoria del poeta, c’è, dallo scorso,  anno una giornata nazionale dedicata a lui, il Dantedì, nato su proposta del Ministero per i Beni e le attività culturali e per il Turismo, che si celebrera`ogni 25 marzo.

Anche lo scorso anno quindi, ci sono state celebrazioni in tutta Italia, quando tutti furono simbolicamente chiamati a leggere alcuni versi della Commedia di Dante Alighieri.

I segreti per imparare quattro lingue e le nostre lezioni di spagnolo

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di Giulia Portuese, Direttrice de La Dante in Cambridge

Bisogna sfatare il mito che spinge molti a pensare di “non avere più l’eta` per imparare una lingua” o che sia “meglio studiare le lingue da bambini”. Oggigiorno con le metodologie basate sull’approccio comunicativo e con lezioni dal vivo, in persona o online,  e`davvero facile acquisire una seconda o terza, o, perche` no, quarta, lingua. Non ci sono limiti d’età. Durante i nostri corsi di italiano alla Dante di Cambridge ho conosciuto una studentessa inglese di 90 anni, Ann, che amava leggere libri in italiano per hobby. Come Presidente del mio Comitato, per me e’ stata una rivelazione, e senz’altro motivo di orgoglio, vedere la gioia di una signora inglese di una tale eta` nel poter leggere testi in una seconda lingua o parlare al telefono  con gli amici italiani. In questo momento, con l’isolamento che abbiamo avuto e le restrizioni che stiamo vivendo in Italia e in Europa, abbiamo più tempo da dedicare ai nostri interessi e più opportunità di dedicare tempo ad aggiornare le nostre abilità. Molti italiani scelgono di studiare  lo spagnolo. E` facile seguire lezioni online con insegnanti di madrelingua e qualche compagno di classe, semplicemente dalla propria stanza o in giardino o con il proprio portatile al bar.  Lo spagnolo suona molto simile all’italiano per la sua origine latina, pur conservando le peculiarità della sua grammatica.  Noi tutti a La Dante, grazie alla parte del nostro team spagnola (tra insegnanti e assistenti di marketing) ci divertiamo a studiare questa lingua e ad imparare molte curiosità su questa cultura e sullo spirito di socializzazione di questo popolo mediterraneo che sentiamo così vicino a noi e che ha così tanta storia parallela a quella italiana. Sapete quanti bar ha la Spagna per abitanti? In Spagna c’è un bar ogni centosettantacinque abitanti. E questo non sorprende se pensiamo al clima mite di questo incantevole Paese e al modo di socializzare degli spagnoli fuori casa con amici e famiglia. E sapete qual e l’origine delle Tapas? Tapas significa coperchio. La leggenda vuole che il Re Alfonso X creò un decreto per cui era obbligatorio servire una ‘tapa’ con le bibite alcoliche così da evitare che i clienti si ubriacassero velocemente. L’ origine di questo termine (coperchio)  e’ quindi la conseguenza di come era servito: sopra la bibita.” Di solito una fetta di prosciutto o formaggio.

Quanto tempo ci vuole per imparare una lingua come lo spagnolo?Per raggiungere un livello di comunicazione semplice e basico da sfruttare in vacanza, ad esempio per essere in grado di  comunicare nei ristoranti e chiedere come stai agli amici in Spagna,  bastano tre mesi. E’ interessante pensare che l’apprendimento all’inizio è stimolato dall’ascolto regolare della lingua, bastano dai 10 minuti ad un’ora al giorno. Vi consiglio pochi minuti al giorno da dedicare all’ascolto delle notizie su Slow news in Spanish o giocare con la lingua utilizzando Duolinguo. Queste applicazioni gratuite facili da installare sul cellulare aiutano molto ad imparare divertendosi allo stesso tempo.

Se invece l’obiettivo è di comunicare per lavoro, per studio, o addentrarsi nella cultura, allora ci vogliono  più dedizione e passione e riuscire ad arrivare a 480 ore per acquisire un ottimo livello linguistico. Bastano 3 ore al giorno per appena 6 mesi o se si studia 1 ora al giorno per 160 giorni. Non è  tanto se si pensa che ce ne vogliono 2200 per imparare lingue più complesse come il cinese o il giapponese.

La ricerca mostra che imparare una lingua fa bene allo stimolo della memoria e riduce la possibilità di avere l’alzheimer. Krashen, linguista americano dice che per ridurre la senilità: basta leggere, bere caffe’ e imparare una lingua. 

Io ho già 60 anni e sto imparando la mia quarta lingua, lo spagnolo, appunto, a La Dante in Cambridge con insegnanti madrelingua e altri cinque studenti che come me hanno la passione per la lingua e la cultura spagnole. Parlo già fluentemente l’italiano, inglese e francese e trovo facile e intuitivo sentire l’insegnante dal vivo, unirmi ai gruppi meet-up gratuiti per far pratica ma specialmente fare amicizia con altri spagnoli quando viaggio o durante i miei studi.

Ora con le ristrettezze dei viaggi, cerco anche di ascoltare Radio Nacional de España (Spain), che potrete trovare in streaming online, e soprattutto mi piace guardare alcune serie tv con i sottotitoli in spagnolo come La Casa de Papel su Netflix, in castigliano, o Narcos che per ascoltare lo spagnolo del Sud America. Il mio spagnolo in meno di un anno è  arrivato ad un ottimo livello.

Inoltre e`possibileascoltare notizie e programmi culturali in Spagnolo gratuitamente su siti e canali come la BBC https://www.bbc.com/mundo . Anche BBC KS1 e KS2 https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize offrono moltissimo e così Youtube (date un’occhiata a Un elefante va a la ciudad e altre storie del genere. ) . Tra le risorse disponibili in rete ci sono molti audiolibri su Audible.com o e`possibile ascoltare i programmi radio bilingue in spagnolo e inglese di Radio Dante (www.radiodante.org o www.ko-fi.com/radiodante ) Ci sono diversi podcast scaricabili, che consentono di ascoltare le puntate mentre si è in viaggio, o in coda al supermercato, o in giro in bici il fine settimana.  Una delle ultime novità di Radio Dante è proprio una nuova serie in spagnolo: Radio Dante Viajes racconti, tradizioni e musica in Spagnolo a cura delle nostre inviate Belen e Lidia, e Radio Dante Microcuentos per bambini: racconti via podcast ottimi per migliorare l’ascolto.

Se avete passione e voglia di scoprire, imparare ed esplorare usi e costumi, altre culture, vi invito a ad ascoltare queste trasmissioni.

In ogni caso date pure un’occhiata alla www.ladante-in-cambridge.org e parlatene con gli amici. Sono tutte dritte che favoriscono l’apprendimento veloce di una lingua. Fatemi sapere se posso darvi altri consigli, saro’ felice di avere i vostri commenti online o condividere con voi altre novita’ sull’apprendimento delle lingue.

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o Volete provare una lezione gratuita con un’amico o un’amica per vedere quanto e’ veloce imparare alla Dante? Mandateci pure un email a spanish@ladante-in-cambridge.org con il codice Spanish Free lesson/Il Confronto October 2020

Seguiteci su:

www.facebook.com/La.Dante.Cambridge/

www.instagram.com/ladanteincambridge

5 Reasons for Studying Languages Online (vs. Face-to-Face Classroom)

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“Shall I take my next course online or shall I stick with my face-to-face classes?”

If you are reading this post, it is possible that you are toying with the idea of signing up for an online course, but perhaps you don’t have a lot of experience studying online, if at all.

If you have taken face-to-face classes all your life, being a little apprehensive at the beginning is normal, even if you are tech-savvy. However, taking an online course, as opposed to a face-to-face class, definitely has its perks. Here are five advantages to studying languages online.

    1. Enhance your career or study to improve your communication when you are abroad

During lockdown, you may have more time to focus on learning a language and dream of your next trip when all the restrictions with international travel are lifted.

An online live session gives you great interaction with your teacher and your fellow classmates at your own pace through break out rooms in Zoom.

In a survey at Learning House: 44% of online students reported improvements in their employment standing and 45% reported a salary increase. By the time you finish your online course, you will have gained more work experience and learned new skills that will help you advance in your career, or if you study for fun, a great result for your future trips or family and friends reunions in the chosen country where the language is spoken!

2. Maximise your study time at home

By studying online with live native teachers, you choose your own learning environment that works best for your needs: be it your bedroom, your study or when this lockdown ends, the café across the street, or your local gym. Or if you just missed your class, you can listen to your teacher’s class recording as you run on the treadmill. Isn’t that awesome?

Taking an online course also means that you don’t have to commute to class, which means less time spent on the bus or car and more study time learning.

  1. Extra time to read or listen to podcasts
    As we are all in lockdown right now, it’s great to develop our skills and improve our knowledge, be more exposed to the language of our choice by reading more newspapers, apps for languages like com or SlownewsinSpanish.com and if you prefer listening to podcasts, listen to Radio Dante podcasts with programmes in Italian/English and Spanish/English on a variety of cultural topics.
  2. Self-discipline and responsibility

Who says that having to be more self-disciplined is a disadvantage? It is true that studying online requires more self-motivation and time-management skills, because you will spend a lot of time on your own without someone physically close to keep you focused on deadlines. Look at it this way: your online course will not only teach you languages and cultural topics, it will also help you become more self-motivated, a trait that will make you stand out in the workplace and beyond.

  1. More choice of language course topics
    Let’s face it, when thinking about what to study, besides for interest and career opportunities, whereto study is also a deciding factor. By taking an online course, you can really focus on the subject you are interested in and choose from the variety of online courses and programs.

I only listed five benefits to learning online but, having been an online student myself, I know there are many more. Can you think of other advantages or reasons why you prefer to take your next course online? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

And don’t forget to follow us on FB, Istagram or Twitter and let us know what you think.

Advantages of learning English via Skype – Great for professionals

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by Alexis Loizou for La Dante in Cambridge

Most business English students want to learn English because it is the most common language spoken in business. It is the main language of the Internet, Conference call meetings and Skype calls … and many technical manuals are written in English too. Other students want to learn the vocabulary that is specific to their industry (Ai, future technology) or their department (accounting, finance or marketing).

Whatever your reason, learning English via Skype is a great way to increase your vocabulary, improve your fluency and listening ability and create better conversation.

Skype lessons have a number of advantages:

  • They are highly convenient, just one hour during the day (no travel time involved)
  • They are one-to-one, not big classes: just you and a teacher!
  • You focus on the subjects that improve your English most
  • You spend the whole lesson engaged in conversation
  • The topics of conversation can be about work/projects, news or world events

Lessons tend to be based on a mixture of topics that include: work related vocabulary, speaking skills, grammar focus, subjects of personal interest and discussion. Students learn as much from lessons about sports and cooking as they do about writing business emails. The emphasis is on keeping the lessons interesting and engaging while working on speaking issues like syntax and pronunciation.

What previous students have said about Skype learning with La Dante:  

“This particular approach has noticeably improved my comprehension of spoken English as well as my fluency in speaking. Particularly I’d like to mention the stress put on the coverage of phrasal verbs: for a foreign learner to be able to use a high amount of phrases that vary their meaning according to context, it is perhaps the greatest challenge and most successful achievement.”

CLIL: Interviewing La Dante’s teacher trainers

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Mary Spratt and Helen Baker have run our two weeks’ CLIL course for a group of secondary teachers from Zaragoza, who taught a variety of disciplines from PE to Music and Art. We’ve interviewed them after the end of the course.

Mary Spratt, teacher trainer and course writer 

  • How was your experience teaching CLIL at La Dante? I think it was very positive. La Dante is a small school and because of it everybody is able to meet, everybody supports and gives ideas to everybody else and you just get this great feeling of collaboration. I think this kind of setup is quite special.
  • What were the highlights of these two weeks? We’ve been working for two weeks with three Spanish teachers who teach Art, Sport and Music in a school in Zaragoza. I think that the highlights of these two weeks were hearing them talking about their own lessons and their own students. Some of them had great ideas about how they could create programmes for their classes and how to turn their classes into CLIL classes. These teachers were just so very motivated and it has been a pleasure teaching to them.
  • What is the most important message you would give to teachers who would like to apply for a CLIL Course at La Dante in Cambridge? I think that a lot of subject teachers are quite frightened or worried about teaching CLIL and similarly a lot of English teacher trainers are worried about teaching CLIL. CLIL is a challenge, I agree, but I also think that CLIL is a great deal of fun and experiments: one of the Spanish teachers this morning said: “teaching CLIL is an adventure”. Some people probably think “I do not want an adventure, I want a recipe”: it’s difficult to find a recipe for CLIL, but there are guidelines and within those guidelines, you can do lovely adventurous things. It’s true that when students learn both content and language together it helps them to get motivated for both and to make very good progress in both.

Helen Baker, teacher trainer and Cambridge examiner

  • How was your experience teaching CLIL at La Dante? I’ve really enjoyed the experience of teaching CLIL here at La Dante, I had some very motivated students who were really keen to apply their teaching knowledge to the CLIL situation. The best thing for me has been seeing them develop their ideas and putting the theory into practice over the time. We also had a relaxed working atmosphere with treats and celebrations along the way.
  • What is the most important message you would give to teachers who would like to apply for a CLIL Course at La Dante in Cambridge? I’d recommend that they come with an open mind and be prepared to learn a lot, perhaps in a short time, and to adapt their knowledge of teaching – which should already be extensive – to the CLIL situation. I hope that more students will want to join during the next years and have this experience seeing how CLIL can really enrich their teaching.

For more information on our CLIL courses, please enquire: english@ladante-in-cambridge.org

CLIL: practical tips for teachers

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Is there a recipe for CLIL?

Much has been written on what CLIL is and why to do it but there is very little practical guidance on how to plan and teach CLIL lessons. If you are a subject teacher who has been asked to teach in English or a language teacher who has been asked to help teach content, you are probably looking for the best way to do it. In our opinion, CLIL is not only about finding the perfect recipe but rather an adventurous journey that you can embark on – but not without some essential guidelines.

CLIL: where to start?

There are some things you should definitely keep in mind when you start planning a CLIL lesson. First of all, think about who your students are – their level of English (or whatever the second language is), their previous knowledge of the content you are going to teach them, and what they expect from the class. Once you know that, you can start to outline the programme you want to follow, matching your students’ language level to the content and selecting the materials to use.

Here are two examples to underline the impact the language level of your students could have on your course. During a CLIL course, we ran in Italy in a secondary school, we were teaching students that had quite a high level of English. This allowed us to focus more on the content side (in that case Arts and Science) and the English language was just the means we used to deliver the classes. With these students, we were able to adapt material designed for native English pupils. Then we had another experience in a school where the students’ English level was quite weak. This forced us to choose a more language-oriented approach, focusing on the particular vocabulary related to the content areas (in this case PE and Music). With these pupils, native English textbooks were linguistically too hard, so we adapted and created our own materials a) to teach key concepts and vocabulary regarding PE and Music and b) to develop their language skills, with the goal of allowing them to be able to use real English content textbooks by their last year of school. lesson. First of all, think about who your students are – their level of English (or whatever the second language is), their previous knowledge of the content you are going to teach them, and what they expect from the class. Once you know that, you can start to outline the programme you want to follow, matching your students’ language level to the content and selecting the materials to use.

Here are two examples to underline the impact the language level of your students could have on your course. During a CLIL course, we ran in Italy in a secondary school, we were teaching students that had quite a high level of English. This allowed us to focus more on the content side (in that case Arts and Science) and the English language was just the means we used to deliver the classes. With these students, we were able to adapt material designed for native English pupils. Then we had another experience in a school where the students’ English level was quite weak. This forced us to choose a more language-oriented approach, focusing on the particular vocabulary related to the content areas (in this case PE and Music). With these pupils, native English textbooks were linguistically too hard, so we adapted and created our own materials a) to teach key concepts and vocabulary regarding PE and Music and b) to develop their language skills, with the goal of allowing them to be able to use real English content textbooks by their last year of school.

How to select the right material?

An important factor to consider when selecting materials is to avoid overloading students with too much information that they will not be able to process. This can be done by choosing a relatively simple content area or by using an area that you have already covered in L1 and doing the CLIL course as revision and extension.

Teachers could find useful to work on English textbooks designed for native English primary schools. This has advantages for both teacher and students: these books’ content level is not too hard but provides an authentic context for the vocabulary that the students will need later on. As for the teachers, they can use the ready-made exercises to test content knowledge, while focusing on the development of further activities to consolidate the second language skills of their students.

Online resources for CLIL

The internet has a lot of resources for teachers: for example, the British Council and publishers like Pearson offer free content online. You can also have a look at a sample of a CLIL lesson about Induism here. You will also find further ideas on this page.

It’s very important for language teachers and content teachers to be working together as a team. Sharing ideas and observing each other’s lessons would really boost your CLIL skills.

For example, content teachers have a huge amount of materials which you may be able to find equivalents of in English, and language teachers probably have ideas as to how to exploit those materials for language purposes.

Material analysis and how to use it at its best

Vocabulary is definitely one of the first aspects to consider – is there any technical or specialised vocabulary that your students need to know for the course, or to understand the text? If that is the case, make sure to explain it beforehand by getting students to match words to definitions or pictures, through gap-fill exercises or helping them to guess the meaning from context.

Practical ideas: your lesson will probably focus on the general comprehension of one main text – make it more interesting by using comprehension activities such as information gapsjigsaw reading tasks and jumble tasks. Follow-up activities can work on reinforcing the vocabulary taught earlier and developing both language skills and comprehension of the topic. These activities can include group discussions, individual presentations, making posters and writing about the topic.

For more information on our CLIL courses, please enquire: english@ladante-in-cambridge.org