How to choose a school?
Before choosing courses of the Italian language in a certain city I spent a lot of time searching for information and reviews on the Internet. There are a quite many different schools in all regions of Italy. Some are purely linguistic; some have accompanying courses. For example, painting, cooking and photography courses enjoy great popularity. My task was to find a school where teenagers and adults were taught simultaneously and I found it. And since I was going to spent time on a seashore with my children, I chose a seaside town. The seaside port town of Salerno in the south of Italy met all our requirements.
I must admit that after a long search I found the option I needed on the site languageinternational.ru and all further correspondence was carried on directly with the school.
Any course in this school starts on a Monday and you can choose 1, 2, 3 or 4-week training according to the level you have. The level is determined conditionally and after the first lesson right on the spot it becomes clear whether the student remains at the chosen level or can be transferred to a more advanced group.
Where to live?
After I decided on the school, I started browsing the sites with housing offers. Although I could do without it. In our correspondence the school administrator Margarita, immediately offered me options for living in Salerno. They have agreements with apartments owners throughout the town for the residence of students. The most budgetary option is living in a family. This may not be very convenient, because despite the separate room the rest of the house is shared. But in terms of communication and consolidation of one’s knowledge such accommodation can be useful. The second option is a separate apartment, which we choose. And the last and most expensive option is staying at a hotel. 3 weeks in a 3-room apartment 25-minute walk from the school cost us 800 euros. At that time the cost of hotels or apartments booking on the site airbnb.com was 1,5 times higher. Of course, this choice was a bit risky, because I was sent only the description and location of the apartment without any photos, but afterwards we were pleased with this choice.
On the eve of the first day we had to sail by ferry from the island of Ischia to Salerno and Margarita arranged for us a transfer from the port to our apartment. We constantly maintained correspondence with her to clarify the time and other details. We corresponded in English as my Italian level was not good enough.
After all the clarifications we needed to pay 20% of our courses cost. The remaining money, including the cost of housing was to be paid on arrival.
The school was located between the port and the town center in an old house and we found it fast enough.
On the first day an introductory meeting of all the students and teachers was held. I and my oldest son Danila were assigned to different groups. There were eight people in my group, and Danila worked alone with his teacher along with 15-year-old Patrick from Austria. He really liked her and still remembers her lessons.
I was lucky with my teacher as well. Our group was taught by Milena, who, like all Italians, was gesticulating frantically and showing with her body and face all she was talking about. Listening to her was such a pleasure! People from all over the world gathered in the group with a single goal - parlare Italiano which in Italian means ‘speak Italian’. There were young people traveling around the world for whom these courses were not merely a place where they just could start speaking, but also get to know Italy. Or a nice married couple from Vienna, with whom we made friends. They learned the language simply for themselves, because of being in love with Italy. Just like us, by the way. A woman from Los Angeles, who lost all her baggage on the flight from Rome to Naples. A woman from Argentina, who once lived in America, in Virginia, and whose grandmother came from Italy. And only one person in our group studied Italian because of work in Italy. During the 3-hour lesson not a word was spoken in English, which I had very much counted on. We were given textbooks, but at the first lesson did not even touch them. All were trying to talk about themselves, their countries and on the topics Milena was offering. In 3 hours we learned about Neapolitan celebrities and read about them. Number one was, of course, Maradona. We analyzed word by word a video on how to cook pizza Margarita. And at the end of the lesson we were given a home task to fix the results.
Classes began at 9 am and ended at about one in the afternoon with a short break. The Academy had a free Wi-Fi and computers in the common room, where my youngest son was waiting for me. He either painted, or played on his iPad and watched cartoons. All the teachers were amazed at how quietly he sat every day while we were studying. But during the break Semyon could finally hang out and play football.
At the courses we talked a lot about the culture and history of Italy, the mentality of different regions inhabitants. On our final day at school we were talking, watching an old Italian film and discussing what we had seen. At the end of our training, we were awarded certificates confirming our level. After 3 weeks of training from the basic level of Italian proficiency we moved one level up, and the grammar and certain topics fell into place. And we certainly do not regret that we have planned our vacation exactly that way: with benefit, interesting acquaintances and new impressions.
The Academy of Leonardo organizes excellent excursions, which we were told about at the first lesson. Some of them take place in the afternoon, for example, cooking master classes, and some - on weekends. Salerno is located next to the Amalfi coast, a half hour drive from the excavations of Pompeii, and the volcano Vesuvius, and an hour drive from Naples, the southern capital of Italy. To the towns of the Amalfi coast we could go by ourselves without any problems. Pleasure boats leave the port several times a day. We also got out to Naples and Pompeii on our own, and with the Academy we went to kayaking on the Amalfi coast and a very interesting place of Remolino for trekking, which we would not have reached by ourselves.
Oddly enough, the tours organizer’s name is Leonardo and he comes up with and realizes really interesting trips. It took us about an hour to get by 2 cars to Remolino in the mountains. It is one of the national parks with mountain rivers, amazing flora and fauna. We climbed the mountain, bathed in the icy river, descended and went to Leo's friends who produced wine and cheese. And we rounded off the evening at a local food festival, which takes place every year at the end of August. It was just an unforgettable trip!
Статью на русском можно прочитать здесь.