Last Friday I taught my first Italian language class, to 12 Vodskov Skole pupils and one V. Skole teacher.
When you are about to start teaching a language to absolute beginners, you always face the same question: should I use English? And, if so, how much of it?
I decided to resort to english (to a full use of it) for the first half of the lesson, and to almost completely avoid it for the second half. I “warned” the students, from the beginning, that it would be so.
This way, in the first half we focused on “culture” (with the help of a big map, a brainstorming activity, some photocopies from the excellent textbook “Un giorno in Italia” and this power point: Presentazione) while in the second half we practised some basic Italian language, before studying it.
No, I didn’t write that by mistake – we really practised Italian before studying it.
With the help of this power point: FirstLesson, we exchanged basic information in the new language. Asking swift questions, and expecting appropriate answers (not repetitions of what the teacher said, but real answers), about one’s identity, you can manage to introduce into the pupil’s mind many new language forms. To achieve this, the most important thing is to use only a few items, and to use them many times, while adding a new item only after the previous ones have been used and reused several times.
Only at the end of this process it is time to show a grammatical “resumé” (TestodaRicordare) and a “synthesis” (Strutture) of the formal structures that we used to communicate between ourselves.
There was also some music (italian classics like “O’ sole Mio”, “Nel Blu dipinto di Blu”, and Negramaro’s modern version of “Meraviglioso”), a (also a classic) game (throwing a ball to your classmate, for example, to Frederik, while asking him “come ti chiami?” – he catches it, says “mi chiamo …..Frederik”, and throws it to another mate), and it all went well in the end. After class some students stayed there, to teach me some danish… I will never be able to say all those vowels (there are 15 of them), half of them sounds exactly the same to my italian ears (we have only 7….) (not 7 ears – 7 vowels).