Italian language classes are offered through a comprehensive approach, the goal enabling one to read, write and speak with equal proficiency while gaining knowledge of Italy, its culture and history. The classes are conducted in Italian with some English used in the beginning as a support. Students are trained to conceptualize in Italian rather than translate or substitute words: As students learn, for example, "Buon giorno. Come stai?" at their first lesson, there is no longer a need to translate it as "Good morning. How are you?" With this approach, vocabulary enrichment grows throughout the course. Grammar and syntactical studies include use of auxiliary verbs "to be" and "to have", the three basic present tense conjugations and an introduction to irregular verbs. Verb tenses covered include Past Perfect, Future, Imperfect, Pluperfect, and Conditional. Possessives, prepositions (simple and compound), direct pronouns are covered. A routine is implemented, using these structures at once and integrated into syntactical studies and through conversation.
Elementary levels use the textbook, Pianeta Italia: First Book of Italian by Beatrice Muzi and Davide Zannoni.
More time is dedicated to conversing, with a continued focus on pronunciation and inflection. Each new session includes a review of earlier materials. A comprehensive application of all studied grammatical and syntactical functions is employed in written work and conversation, which also emphasizes idiomatic expressions. Students are now able to compose fictional and non-fictional essays which help aid in developing vocabulary and use of structures. Grammatical studies include indirect pronouns, combined pronouns; the Imperative, Subjunctives, Remote Past tenses; hypothetical sentence, passive and impersonal forms, gerund, direct and indirect discourses.
Our Advanced levels are not only progressively defined but also each has a specific emphasis: some focus on review of grammar and translation skills other than conversation. Others are based on conversation and reading to develop vocabulary and cultural knowledge. Placement into our advanced levels is based on the mastery and application of all previous studies. In all groups vocabulary is expanded along with more attention devoted to writing, reading essays, plays and literature. Students are encouraged to contribute material, making these classes into an ongoing seminar which can be taken over a period of time as a means of maintaining a high level of fluency in Italian. Emphasis is given to cultural studies, usage, idiomatic expressions, and studies of contemporary Italy.
Elena Berriolo, 2010
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