This article is a transcript of our podcast that can be found on our http://www.essenceofitaly.net/ podcast page.
Carolyn: I spent some time in the beautiful, historical city of Lecce, located in the heel of the Italian boot, in the region of Apulia. Here I met Mariella Capano, who teaches Italian to foreigners at the Apulia Domus School of Italian Language and Culture.
Originally from Brindisi, Mariella spent some time living in Germany and working as a translator. When a friend asked Mariella to create a lesson teaching Italian, she enjoyed it so much that she’s been teaching Italian ever since.
For Mariella, teaching her language is a way to bring the people of the world closer together.
Your students are from all over the world, right? Tell me some of the countries your students are from.
Mariella: Australia, America, Brazil, Germany, Serbia, many, many countries.
Carolyn: Mariella understands that learning a language is also learning the culture.
Mariella: Well, the differences between cultures, I think it’s the most important thing when you study a foreign language. Foreign language is not grammar, but it’s culture, it’s tradition. Teaching Italian is not only a job, but it’s also the communication of my origins.
Carolyn: Teaching her language to foreigners allows Mariella to learn the cultures of her students, as well.
Mariella: I learn everything; slang, I learn tradition. For example, what does the color violet mean?
In Italy, it represents a very bad color because it represents death, it represents bad luck. For example, if you go to the theater in a violet T-shirt, you are not allowed to go in.
But on the contrary, in Great Britain, violet is a very nice color because it is the color of the king, it represents the king. And there are so many things that you can learn from other people.
Carolyn: Mariella speaks only Italian in the classroom, immersing her students in the sounds and visual associations of the language.
Mariella: Italian in particular because it’s a very musical language and I think it’s easier to learn it, because you learn the sounds. And to learn the sounds, it’s easier than to learn than vocabulary.
Carolyn: I had the pleasure of being Mariella’s student, in a class with 4 others from different countries. Mariella always found ways to make the classroom experience more interesting. We didn’t just repeat lessons from a book, but she also taught through music, color, drawing and discussions of current events in Italy and America. Although we all struggled to express ourselves, it was a tremendous learning experience. Here, Mariella explains some her teaching techniques.
I try to use music because your mind is relaxed. To speak to the people and say to them, OK, now draw what you feel at this moment. You can see that each person draws with pastel colors, or they draw the sea, or the mountains, because the music helps your brain to work in a relaxing situation.
You have to listen to what they say, to let them explain. This is a method to let the people speak, to express themselves.
Carolyn: Mariella uses these techniques to allow the students to get more out of each class.
Mariella: If you study for 2 hours only grammar, grammar and grammar, your brain is tired and at the end of the lesson you remember only half of the lesson.
Carolyn: Mariella loves teaching her language and sharing the Southern Italian culture and history with the world.
Mariella: It’s very important to know the history because here you can see the monuments, you can see the history of human beings. The character of the people of South Italy, it’s very important to know them. When they see foreign people they try to help them. It’s not important if they don’t speak English or German, they try to speak with their hands, and to help them.
Here in south Italy, because there are so many things to see, to visit, to appreciate.
Carolyn: To learn Italian with Mariella or any of the other talented teachers at the Apulia Domus School in Lecce, check out their website http://www.apuliadomus.com/.
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