Eindhoven Italian School “La Lampadina” offers 8 free trial lessons for Italian children from March to May
It has never been more apparent that parents need to be proactive in order to raise truly multilingual children (see the recent article posted by Eindhoven News). For this reason, a group of people have started an initiative to bring Italian lessons to children in the Eindhoven area. We sat down with Laura Pirani to ask her about the Eindhoven Italian School “La Lampadina.”
Why have you started an Italian school in Eindhoven?
Quite simply, I see that my children are starting to speak better Dutch than they speak Italian and I want to help them develop a more even bilingualism. I got together with Gisi Cannizzaro and Juliana Nasufi because we – with our backgrounds in linguistics and philosophy — want to support children who speak Italian at home with one or both of their parents. There is research to support the claim that formal lessons in the heritage language (or home language) can have life long benefits. We hope to get enough momentum to also work with Ente Scuola Italiana, which requires a minimum number of students per class to receive the subsidy.
Why is it important for children to study Italian?
We believe that each child has a unique cultural and linguistic background, just waiting to be enriched. In today’s world, having a good command of the different languages we speak is an important asset. Not only can Italian lessons help prepare children for their future as global citizens, we also believe that developing language skills can be enjoyable!
When will the pilot lessons start?
In February we ran a two pilot lessons at no charge, just to get things started. At no charge, we gave a lesson to one set of children on a Wednesday and a lesson to a different set on a Friday, with parents choosing the day that works best for their family’s schedule. The lessons took place at two elementary schools between between 15:00 and 16:30. We now have 8 additional lessons planned from March to May, and parents can choose between the Wednesday and the Friday class.
Are lessons only for Italian children?
The purpose of the lessons is to support children who speak Italian at home with at least one of their parents. That being said, if there are many Dutch parents who would like to enroll their children in lessons for Italian as a second language, we can certainly explore the possibility of offering classes for these children as well.
How can parents sign up for the pilot lessons?
What will the children learn in the lessons?
The Italian families who responded to our survey in November indicated that they would like their children to develop more confidence in speaking skills, expand their vocabulary, better understand their heritage culture, and learn formal skills like reading and writing. As many expats know, only speaking a language at home with one or even two parents does not provide a child with an academic knowledge of that language. This is what we will try to support: a deeper knowledge of the children’s mother tongue, beyond what is able to be achieved at home.
Which teaching method do you use?
We take a student-centered approach similar to what is offered at Dutch schools. We want children to be engaged in the lessons and take an active role in learning. (In Italy the approach is very teacher-centered, but that kind of approach is not feasible in this setting, in our opinion.)
The children are given a concrete task that involves them directly, in order to instigate a real and immediate use of the language. The approach we use combines the Socratic and CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) methods.
What are the Socratic and CLIL methods?
The Socratic method uses real-life examples to make it easier for the students to elaborate and memorize the grammatical and syntactic rules (and not vice versa). The CLIL method develops language by exploring the areas of history, geography, and science in Italian. CLIL has been shown to be an effective method with bilingual children not only because children expand their knowledge, but they also develop a positive attitude towards learning.
Is your school looking for more volunteers?
Many parents have already indicated a willingness to volunteer, so we are very pleased about that. Our teacher can use help with preparing the lesson location and tidying up afterwards. Anyone interested should definitely contact us!