Words do not suffice to tell you how much I am learning and enjoying this first half of a three-month's stay in Italy. The Babilonia School in Taormina, where I extended my two-week stay to three weeks, gave me a solid foundation for learning Italian. The extended professionalism of the school, the direct teaching methods for learning a language and the incredibly fun teaching staff present to each student a unique environment for speaking, understanding, and writing Italian.
>From the first day's greeting and throughout my three weeks, each person on staff and especially the secretaries were always patient and willing to assist in any way. The apartment housing with the Salsa family was perfect and dinner with them was a generous introduction to an Italian family. On the first day of class, students were made very comfortable and the placement requirements were easily arranged. Being in a class with so many students from different countries was a highlight and I made several friends with whom I will stay in contact.
In addition to the school's professional structure, the teaching methods for my beginning skills created a strong foundation for learning to speak and understand and then write Italian. Teachers, from the first moment, spoke only Italian and with a patient understanding for the beginning student. As a language teacher, I know this can be taxing. Learning new grammatical structures in context and then learning the vocabulary and grammar are the direct teaching methods, I found, easy to understand and then apply to speaking and comprehension skills. Within a week, I felt my learning increase immeasurably. I found the four-hour standard course plus one to be a perfect combination for small class and individual instruction.
The key component to any learning, but especially a new language, is the teaching staff. I cannot speak highly enough of the Babilonia's teaching staff. They love teaching and show their passions with their energies and senses of humor. Each teacher created a learning environment that made learning and understanding easy. For example, to learn a new verbal concept, the teacher first presented the verbs in a listening context, then after checking on listening comprehension presented the verbs in a grammatical structure.
In addition, each teacher was wonderfully patient and thorough with the beginner student. To learn different speaking accents and styles of teaching, the teachers changed every week so that in a course of three weeks, I had nine different teachers. Each one is a highly skilled teacher who constantly challenges the student in a very relaxed learning environment. The individual hour, in combination with the standard course, I felt, was most effective because I could tailor my learning needs, such as my pronunciation, and spend a full hour working on specific skills.
I cannot speak highly enough of Babilonia with their professional and effective teaching and support staff. The three weeks went by so quickly with evening activities and weekend excursions. In a wine, cheese and olive tasting class for three evenings, I made friends with the staff and owner of the restaurant that opened up more opportunities for learning to speak and understand Italian but in the classes especially, I made friends with people from England, Switzerland, Japan and Germany.
With the three weeks in Taormina and the two weeks exploring the front and back roads of Sicily, I feel in love with the island--its rich history, fabulous foods and wines but more so with its generous people.
I send my heartfelt thanks to Babilonia's staff and to you, Robin, for all your helpful information. I'll keep in touch..next time in Italian!
Ciao and take care,
San Francisco, CA - USA