Italian classes for children and the importance of movement

In our Italian classes no matter what the student age is, we never just sit on a chair but we offer a variety of activities so that our students can move. We believe that learning takes place when we feel free and relaxed. This is why movement is important in our classes.

Even in our adult classes we carefully select games to consolidate vocabulary and structures learnt. Adults move in class during the games, during ‘mingling’ activities, and they are sometimes invited to the board to take ownership of a particular activity.

Movement is even more important in our children classes. Children unlike adults have a short attention span, albeit which grows with age.

We account for this in all of our classes. For example our 3-5 classes are taught mainly on the carpet. However, children are invited to stand during singing time, they can move around during our role plays (picture 1.) and during games. Because the class is varied and time standing/moving/on the carpet is alternated, when it is time to listen to a story in Italian or to work on activities that require attention, children are able to sit, listen and concentrate (pictures 2. and 3.). Storytelling is a very important element in our classes. Our storytelling time is always interactive, so children are asked questions – always in Italian – and they are invited to participate actively in it. All our classes at all levels and for all ages are taught exclusively in Italian and students are interacting with our teachers in Italian.

Class 3-5 years old, 1. Role play 2. Story told in pictures, 3. Puppet show

 

As the children grow their attention span grows and they are more able to sit still for longer periods. Students in our Italian 7-9 class, have a chair with a table as they are asked to write in some of the activities. Activities however, are varied and students are expected to move during some of the activities. For example we offer time to work in pairs or in small groups on the floor (picture below) as well as standing time; for example time on the board during a game, a mime activity and so on.

Class 7-9 years old, group work

Three simple steps to enable children to learn a second language

Children’s brains are designed for learning and they are natural at learning languages. Find here three simple steps to help them.

When it comes to languages children are like sponges, they are able to learn simply by being in the environment where the language is spoken. Even when living abroad, if both parents speak their mother tongue, at home, the child will speak it as well. So they are natural learners and learning languages have huge benefits for them. But what about those children who are not raised in a mainly bilingual environment at home? Are they doomed? Of course not!

Step No 1. Give children enough exposure to the language

To enable them to learn, children need enough exposure to the language and the right type of exposure. A class is a good way to start. In this setting, the language needs to be presented in context, for example with a story, with a task, with a game, etc… The class must be fun. Let’s be clear here, fun in class is not a desirable element but is essential, without it the children will switch off. Moreover, the language needs to be perceived as useful by the child. The skill of the teacher is to make those tasks/games/etc, irresistible for the children, so that they can’t wait to get stuck in.

Step No 2. Support your child

Although children’s brains are designed to learn and especially to learn languages, we also need to recognise that learning is an effort for the children, especially if they cannot rely on it being spoken continuously at home. So they need to be well supported in their endeavour. Parents needs to be aware that learning a language is a commitment for both the children and themselves.

Step No 3. Be patient

To learn a second language takes time and it takes dedication for children and families. It happens but not overnight, so be patient!

At Parla Italiano, our school of Italian in Palmers Green, we strive to understand the process of learning so all the activities that we design reflect all of the above and more. Please visit our school if you wish to see our teachers in action or write to us to find out more about how we teach.