You must familiarise yourself with the following grammar information!
Italian language structures are different from English language structures. To say, for example, “I don’t go” or “I’m not going,” Italian speakers, thinking in their own language, say, “I not go”. Germans say “Ich gehe nicht” (I go not). In French it is “Je ne vais pas” (I not go not), while in Spanish it is “No voy” (no go I). If you consider that a 12-year-old Italian child may have said “Non vado” (I not go) 10 to 20 thousand times, how many times will it take to rewire his/her memory to produce instead “I don’t go” or “I’m not going”?
Speakers have these structures ‘hard-wired’ into their brain from early childhood. In order to modify these structures the brain must be stimulated through engaging and constructive repetition done in a caring environment. Boring repetition with an unfriendly and unmotivated teacher produces no change (Consider how you have been taught a foreign language and how much you have learnt.) Neuroscience has shown that the deeper parts of the brain which react to emotional stimuli “switch on” the outer cortex.
The following is a list of ‘hard-wired’ structures that are difficult for Italian students to unlearn. Italian students will commonly say in English:
- I have 15 years.
- I have thirst.
- Now I play.
- Yesterday I not played tennis.
- Yesterday I not am gone at Milano.
- Michael Jackson is better of Madonna.
- The my mother not speak English.
- You must to speak slowly.
- The car of John…
- My apple is more good of your.
- You can to go?
- Want you to go?
English and Italian grammar are very different. As a few basic examples, the Italian language does not have the auxiliaries ‘do,’ ‘will,’ or ‘would,’ questions in Italian are formed with rising intonation, and the tense systems of the two languages do not coincide.
With some 25 letters, humans can produce some 45 sounds. Not all languages use all of these sounds. The ‘r’ sound, for example, is familiar to Italian and Spanish speakers but not to Chinese or Japanese speakers.
After adolescence, the brain becomes deaf to unheard sounds and is unable to reproduce them. It takes patience and repetition “to hear” these sounds and “pronounce” them. The following sounds are difficult for Italian speakers: ‘th,’ ‘h,’ English ‘r,’ long vowels as found in ‘leave,’ ‘sheep,’ ‘sheet,’ ‘no,’ ‘please,’ ‘far,’ ‘low,’ ‘cheese,’ ‘you,’ ‘wow,’ ‘cold,’ etc. Become aware of how you stress these sounds. Think of sentences or songs or games using these sounds. Where English speakers find it difficult to pronounce double consonants (e.g. PavaroTTi), Italian speakers find it difficult to pronounce ‘sheep’ and thus typically say ‘ship’.
Body language and funny sounds
Body language and other non-verbal communication is an essential component of the ACLE approach. Imagine that you want to tell a new friend that doesn’t speak or understand your language about a trip you have recently made. You only know five words of this language and you can only use five words and a lot of sign language and emotional sounds. Try to tell him as much as you can in three minutes. See if you are successful. Make sure the energy in your voice doesn’t drop! This activity will help you approximate some of the strategies you will need to communicate successfully with Italian children.
Familiarity with English grammar terminology
Can you give examples of the following grammar terms?
- simple present
- present continuous
- simple past
- the past participle
- prepositions of time
- Demonstrative adjectives
- Saxon genitive
- Future definite
- Comparative with two elements
- Superlative with three elements
It is essential that you follow the link to ACLE’s grammar pages and familiarize yourself with their contents as you will be teaching grammar through games, songs and activities in the mornings at camp.