ARE YOU UP TO A GREAT ONLINE EXPERIENCE OR DID YOU THROW THE TOWEL IN TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE ONLINE?

How we enjoy and develop our language learning experience online

Here at La Dante in Cambridge, we are riding the big wave, having moved all of our language courses online for Italian, Spanish, and English.  Many of us are at home during the lockdown and really wish our time was well spent: consolidating or just learning something new. Our desire to travel will always be there, whether we do it this summer or in the autumn, wishing to visit friends in Italy and Spain, sipping that prosecco by the lakes or in the main square in Sevilla chatting to friends.

We have a great language learning experience at La Dante in Cambridge and our objective is to help people understand other cultures, help them succeed in their exams, help families whose children wish to talk to their grandparents in Italian or Spanish.

Many of our students have already asked when we will be back for our face to face lessons at la Dante, and the answer is, of course, people will always want to learn face to face to have a laugh and to have the eye contact with other students, share a cake during a class to celebrate someone’s birthday………it’s all about the culture and La Dante will open on September 1st. In the meantime, there are so many ways to enjoy and take advantage of this special time during lockdown: we can all learn how to use Skype or Zoom or Google Meet, our team has been helping some of our students who were not familiar with the platforms. There is also so much help on google search and our team of teachers has been great at facilitating the online classes.

We took the opportunity to ask our teachers 5 questions about the online learning experience at La Dante in Cambridge:

1)    Why do you think people should take this opportunity to learn a new language during  lockdown?

 

Ludovica – Italian teacher at La Dante in Cambridge

Ludovica Frezza, Italian teacher from Napoli: “Definitely, in this situation, it seems that time never passes, but by learning a new language you can spend one or two pleasant hours with your teacher and/or classmates. In this way, you change your routine by having fun, learning something new and meeting new people even if you are locked in the house.

 

Emilia Marra, Italian teacher from Catania:  Learning a new language is an excellent antidote against the sense of loneliness that we all have been experiencing in these strange months. Being part of a class that shares the same passion for languages not only allows you to interact with new people, external to your family group and circle of friends but also to learn a new tool through which to communicate.

Silvia De Paola, Italian teacher from Rome:  Sure, I agree with that. Learning online is great. It is an excellent resource for people who can comfortably connect from home and definitely take advantage of this situation. Furthermore, it is also an occasion for socialization which is crucial for everyone at this moment in which we are all asked to keep the safe distance from others to protect against the coronavirus disease.

Luisa Tammaro, Italian teacher from Naples: Life in lockdown is challenging, and people can get bored easily. Learning a new language in this difficult period means spending the huge free time to gain new skills and feel more productive. Students can easily join online classes from home and socialise with their classmates.

Tamara Benassi, Italian teacher from Bologna: Learning a language is ALWAYS a great way to keep your mind active, and add new skills while having some fun!

2) If someone finds that online is not ‘a real context’ to learn languages, what is your advice for these people?

Luisa – Italian teacher at La Dante in Cambridge

Ludovica: The context is virtual and not real, it’s true. But what makes it real is the relationship that is created with the other participants in the class. We can’t touch each other, but there is interaction. So if you feel like you are attending a non-real lesson, I would recommend focusing on what really happens during the lesson and not on the fact that you are online. There is no robot or pre-recorded video on the other side. The smiles, expressions, and voices…are real!    Luisa: For students, online lessons can be much closer to the ‘real context’ than it seems. Teachers work hard to make this happen. They use the same materials that they would use in a face-to-face class (i.e. books and exercises) and adapt them to the online class. Moreover, the advantage to learn a language online is the massive use of digital tools and sharing materials in real-time. Some interactive tools make the online lesson more usable and much closer to the real one. I strongly believe that people should not be so worried about the ‘context’ but should take into account this opportunity as a good chance to discover a new way to learn a language and make friends.

 

Daniel Miguel Pastor, Spanish teacher from Burgos: Thanks to new technologies and the work that teachers do to adapt, we make the experience of learning online very enriching. Online classes are a great and effective way to learn.     Emilia: ‘The online’ is itself a new language. Remote interaction is undoubtedly different from that in presence, but it is not a matter of comparing the two experiences in terms of more or less. The online is a big change compared to traditional teaching and offers many opportunities. As always, when the news knocks on the door, we are called to make a test, in order to understand the advantages of a new situation, and, why not, be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities it opens.          Silvia: With new digital tools, online teaching is very close to face-to-face teaching. Obviously, the mode of use changes but group interaction remains. Sharing multimedia contents can also be stimulating for the student accustomed to the ‘classic’ lesson since it represents a novelty.

3) Do you think there is an age in which people can learn a language?

Daniel Miguel – Spanish teacher at La Dante in Cambridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel: Of course not, any age is good to learn a new language. Many times some of us have that bad feeling for not having done something long ago, for lack of courage or for doubts. Likely, many people when they get older decide to sort it out and satisfy that urge. So, they successfully start a language course. Languages can be learned at any age, we just have to be motivated and eager, the teachers will also help us with that.

 

 

Luisa: I would like to use a quotation: ‘there is no age limit for learning until your passion towards curiosity ends’. I think you can learn a language at any age. Obviously, the learning mode changes from age to age.

Ludovica:  Everyone can learn a new language, but everyone has his own time. The important thing is not to be discouraged.

 

Tamara – Italian teacher at La Dante in Cambridge

Silvia: I think people can learn a language at any age. Taking a language course is not only learning an idiom but also discovering a world different from one’s own, a different culture. It is also a great occasion to meet new people.

Emilia: I believe that learning a new language is always within everyone’s reach.

4)   Tell me 5 things that make learning online fun with you: 

Ludovica: 1. Not only theory but also practice and discovery of Italian culture. 2. There is the interaction between classmates and between student and teacher 3. We watch videos and listen to music. 4. The teacher does not speak continuously, but also and above, all the students speak 5. In each lesson there is a new challenge: I don’t like boredom!

Emilia: 1. Extra material available every week on google classroom: interviews, newspaper articles, surveys; 2. Use of audio-visual resources; 3. Games and exercises in pairs thanks to the support of Zoom’s breakout rooms; 4. Immediacy in finding visual material shared with students through the use of Zoom chat or Skype; 5. Dynamic conversation.

Emilia – Italian teacher at La Dante in Cambridge

Luisa: 1. Many interactive games; 2. Sharing authentic material in real-time;  3. offering engaging interactive content; 4. Using songs and videos;  5. More structured lessons and more conversation.

 

Silvia: 1)  videos or songs during the class 2, sharing material in real-time 3, offering captivating interactive contents 4, lessons built with targeted exercises created ad hoc 5 very stimulating group exercises (for example talk shows on a topic)

Daniel: 1. I am a happy person who approaches the class in an entertaining way, always smiling (no one gets bored during my classes!) 2. I adapt each class to the students’ level and objectives. 3 I don’t always use the same methodology. 4. I like that students are entertained in class and learn as much as possible so that they always want to know more. 5. The way I work gives rise to many curiosities and aspects not only related to the language, but also to the culture of the Spanish-speaking countries

5) Would you recommend online learning at La Dante? if so, why?

Ludovica:  Yes, all teachers are prepared, reliable, patient, and positive. The classes are small, so you can’t feel neglected by the teacher. There isn’t only theory and you are totally immersed in the Italian or Spanish language.

Luisa: I would recommend online learning at la Dante because our teachers invest part of their time in online education training, and also because our team is constantly looking for new teaching content and new online tools.

Tamara: Yes, because it gives you the chance to learn a language and culture in a small group class with a native Italian speaker.

Emilia: The online tuition by La Dante guarantees the quality of the teaching of the frontal lesson, while integrating the most recent resources available on the internet, in terms of both platforms used (Zoom, Blinklearning, Google Classroom) and content available for the teaching of the Italian language L2.

 

Silvia – Italian teacher at La Dante in Cambridge

Silvia: Definitely, because our team is constantly looking for original content and new ways of doing the teaching, with particular attention to making the students feel at ease during the lessons, always using new ways to satisfy them.

 

Daniel: I recommend learning with La Dante because it is a very friendly and familiar school that knows how to treat its students and that not only offers languages but also brings different cultures to everyone in an interesting and entertaining way. In addition, online classes are well organized and it is always about improving and incorporating new technologies and improvements that facilitate learning for students.

Let us know what you think of these interviews and if there is anything you would like us to do differently within the virtual classrooms or by offering new opportunities online, click here to get in touch 

 

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

 

 

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.

ICGSE PREPARATION AT LA DANTE IN CAMBRIDGE

The International GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) we held this year was a project to teach English B2 level, Geography and Maths in English for the best students coming from the Lyceum Fardella-Ximenes in Trapani, Sicily.  The thirty-five Italian students aged 14 and 15 came to La Dante in our lovely Cambridge in February for two weeks. Our English CELTA qualified teachers organised interesting and stimulating tasks in and out of the classroom that went far beyond the exam preparation. The students’ commitment and interaction was excellent and so were the tutors who accompanied them, Prof Matteo Peraino and Prof.ssa Lucia Abate who were pivotal for the success of the project. The course programmes were topical and planned accurately, with challenging and stimulating activities. For each course, they had to run interviews and research, presentations and debates.  In the Geography class, they discussed themes based on environmental issues, such as climate change, hurricanes, and weather forecasting. They studied issues related to cities and specific industrialised countries. Teaching and discussions during these themes were both rewarding and newsworthy as the students came from one of the most beautiful places in Sicily where pollution problems are extremely low.  As the IGCSE programme developed into English B2 level they discussed and enriched their vocabulary and enriched their speech. The lessons focused on social media, law and order, and sustainable fashion. They took several tests in preparation for their exam next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for IGCSE Maths we had the professor Alex Datta who helped them consolidate the maths programme in view of their exams: from differentiation questions to understanding quadratic functions, the students responded well and were proactive during the whole course. The teenagers have also been given the opportunity to take advantage of our beautiful city to enjoy British culture. So the teaching was integrated by a social programme, which included a walking tour of Cambridge. The first point of interest was the iconic King’s College, and then they gained a better insight into what Cambridge University life is like by visiting a variety of colleges. Of course, the Cambridge experience would not have been complete without a punting trip under an incredible February sunshine. The group also went to Grantchester to enjoy a walk through its typically British meadows. Along with the cultural experience, we offered them karaoke evenings and the screenings of British films to relax after their hard work. They really enjoyed that and at the weekend they visited the nearby cathedral town of Ely, as well as London.

It’s safe to say the group experienced everything British weather has to offer, from the unseasonal February sunshine and blue skies to gale-force winds and hail. We’re grateful to them for bringing the sunshine!    Our teachers and our team really enjoyed meeting them. We took the opportunity to interview these excellent and motivated students to find out their take on the experience. Here is what they thought about the IGCSE course in English, Maths, and Geography at La Dante in Cambridge:

Alessandro: “This experience is a big opportunity because I think that studying in Cambridge, in England is a big opportunity to improve my skills and my language. I really like La Dante teachers, (Michael Jill, Michael Brown, Rebecca Caute, Alex Datta, Gudrun Hughes) we talked about current affairs, and my English is improving a lot. The best thing is that we always speak in English. In Trapani you study English but here it is a different type of study, much more effective, of course”

Aurelia: “I am enjoying this experience. I haveimproved my pronunciation as well as my understanding. I feel more confident. The thing I like the most is that I am learning about English culture and traditions. Also the family who hosts me helps me in this because they often talk to me, so I feel more confident when I speak in English.

Martina: Professors are really good, they’re nice and gentle and we are practicing writing, speaking, listening and learning a lot of words.

Ruben: The teachers are so well prepared, my objective is improving my English skills, and I can feel more comfortable in communicating. I also love being with my friends and at the same time learning new things. Cambridge is a very nice city, and the people, who live here, such as my house family, are lovely and hospital.

Martina II: This is my first time in England with the school and my classmates. I think that it is something that everyone has to do because we can do so many new experiences, we can learn so many things about the language, culture, and tradition in England. Cambridge is a beautiful city. The best thing about this city is the place itself. I loved the punting tour on the river Cam.

Giuseppe: I am really enjoying this experience at la Dante in Cambridge because the teachers are so good and the atmosphere is very nice. We are lucky because we can practice a lot with high-qualified teachers. The things I like the most are the lessons themselves because they are perfect.

Alberto: La Dante is a happy place, and Cambridge is a really nice city. I am so enjoying this experience. It is very effective because you are in a city where people do not talk your language and so you have to push yourself. I am always with English people. The things I like the most is being with my friends and seeing Cambridge, its parks, cinemas, and colleges. Living with British family is so cool. I am enjoying this because you only talk English with them.

Serena: I am learning a lot about the English culture and habits. I really like the city with it monuments and the colleges and also the people who are very kind. Here they eat very early in the evening and this is strange for us because we have dinner at 8 pm and they from 5 to 7 pm. On a typical day, in the morning we go on trips, we visit the city with a guide or the teachers, and on the afternoon we have the lessons on Geography, Maths and English teacher. My favourite subjects are English and Latin. I am a very curios person, I want to discover this culture because I think it is important for my future to use a good English. It is the first language in the world, so the first tool to find a good job and to learn more about other people habits. I really like La Dante teachers, they are very kind and they make us feel at home. Thank you so much La Dante in Cambridge!

  We welcome more IGCSE projects in English, Maths, and Geography, and of course for other subjects. Our European Cultural Centre, La Dante in Cambridge attracts the best qualified trained native teachers and we have been developing exclusive projects in Europe since 2011.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at: english@ladante-in-cambridge.org

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!

La Dante in Cambridge contributes to the Erasmus Traineeship

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It’s with great joy that I am sharing this piece of information with you. We just received a commendation from the Erasmus office for the contribution given to training Italian graduates from the best Italian Universities. We had a training programme for Erasmus students since we started in 2008 in Cambridge, training Italian graduates in marketing and administration. Thanks to the training, most graduates, up to 90% of them, find full time positions within 18 months of leaving La Dante in Cambridge.

The Italian graduates we attract are bright and energetic,  they come along with an Erasmus scholarship, often with no previous working experience, straight from University. They need to have a C1 proficient level of English to do the working experience here like Euridice Comuzzi from Milan University , Alessandra Icardi from Genova University, and Linda Lauzana from the University of Venice. They are full of enthusiasm for their working experience and eager to learn.

Our trainees are trained in online and offline marketing, organisation of cultural events, coordinate classes, customer service skills, administration. They also do market research, project management and most of all help with the promotion of our Italian culture in Cambridge with enthusiasm and professionality.

Here is the email we had from the Erasmus office:

3rd October, 2016
Dear Esteeemed La Dante in Cambridge,

Italian Erasmus Mobility for Traineeship (EMT) had a year growth of 44% in a.y. 2014/2015. Compared to other European countries, Italian mobility reached the fourth highest number of outgoing students. More than 6.000 European enterprises hosted an Italian Erasmus trainee.
A European Community survey carried out in 2015 found out that Italian students receive the highest number of job offers compared to all the other European countries (51%).
The Italian Erasmus National Agency (NA) would like to thank you for contributing to reach that goal.

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Benefits of a bilingual brain

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It’s obvious that knowing more than one language can make certain things easier — like travelling or watching movies without subtitles. But are there other advantages to having a bilingual (or multilingual) brain? Mia Nacamulli details the three types of bilingual brains and shows how knowing more than one language keeps your brain healthy, complex and actively engaged.

TED.com on the Benefits of a bilingual brain