Language Travel

This summer I spent 3 weeks in an Italian Language school in Siena called Dante Alighieri. Honestly, it exceeded me expectations in terms of learning, fun, friendships, daily life in an Tuscan city. It was amazing! If you like me get a bigger thrill out of ordering coffee in another language than touring museums, this could be a wonderful type of travel for you. Not to mention, it is very reasonable! (575 Euros for 3 weeks of class, 420 Euros for 3 weeks of a room in an apartment) I teach English as a second language so I got to see what it is like to be the student (which was actually great job training!) If you are interested, I wrote a blog: That American Trying to Speak Italian - - Blog Removed By Webmaster. Review guidelines for Trip Reports - -

Posted by Christine
Philadelphia, PA, USA
15 posts

I have heard of that institute. The thing with language schools is there are seemingly limitless choices. If I were you I would try really hard to do a French language school in France (if at all possible). Then you get to really practice outside of class which is very helpful. When I did google searches I was overwhelmed by the options. So I actually emailed Rick Steves and Dante Alighieri was one of the schools recommended. Also, I had been taking night classes at an Italian American Society in Philadelphia and they had a good relationship with my school and highly recommended it. Finally, I tried to really pick a city that I thought I would enjoy and Rome and Florence seemed a little too big for my taste. Hope that helps!

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Christine, I've been looking at a 4 week French course with the Institut Francais in Villefranche-sur-Mer (although I'm unlikely to get spousal approval for that and may do one of their intensive courses in London instead). That's the official government language institute and as far as I can work out, the Italian equivalent would be the Instituto Italiano di Cultura. I wonder if you looked at their courses, and if you did then what made you choose Dante Alighieri instead? Italian is next on my list of languages to try to learn to speak well (but never quite achieving...) so it would be interesting to know how you picked a school. I taught English as a second language for a short time, many years ago, here in England, so I'll be reading your blog with interest!

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Kevin, if you're interested in learning French at a professional level (ie, not just ordering a meal), look into CERAN. I attended a week long course for Dutch at the Spa, Belgium location, where they also teach English, French and German. They also operate a school in Brussels and one somewhere in Provençe. Excellent course, although it's more suited for people already at an intermediate or advanced level. I wrote a trip review on this website, search back to around last October and you should be able to find it.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Christine, thanks for your reply. It's really hard to know what is a good school and what I like about the IF course in Villefranche is that it is a month of intensive tuition, in French only, not a holiday with a few hours of lessons per day. On the other hand, it's a whole month and realistically I can't do that, but the London branch is a practical possibility. I really wish I could be there, because I get what immersion can do for you, but I'll have to make do with French TV (fortunately I have a French TV system so I get all their domestic channels via satellite), and in the meantime I'm carrying on with Assimil. Tom, I'm going to go and Google that. I really don't just want to speak tourist French, it's really about being comfortable in a range of conversational and travel situations, and I know that I'm capable of getting to B2 or higher. Well, I'd like to think so...

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Kevin, I was assessed at B1 before I took the course, and after one week of immersion and exercises, I was reassessed at B2, just missing C1. A big part of the course is focused around meal-time and social situations, usually with a generous serving of alcoholic beverages. This forces you to use the language outside of a structured environment, and in situations where your mental capacity is perhaps not at it's sharpest.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Christine, I've been thinking of taking some Italian language training in Italy, and have found it's a daunting task to sort through the many language schools that are seemingly available in all parts of Italy. It was helpful to read your comments and recommendation for Dante Alighieri, so I'll be making a note of that. The costs for both tuition and accommodations seem to be in about the same range for most of them. Was your apartment in a private room or shared with others? A few questions..... > Were your classes four hours in the mornings in a group setting? > Was it a total immersion type of instruction? > Did you need to get a student Visa or did you just use the normal 90-day tourist Visa? > What was the typical age range of the other students? > Did you feel that you learned quite a bit in a time frame of three weeks? Would two weeks have been worthwhile? I'll keep this in mind when I work out my Itinerary for next year. Cheers!

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
250 posts

I attended the Institut de Francais in Vllefranche-sur-Mer 4 years ago and loved it. I have returned to the town once since them to vacation and I will vacation there again in a couple of weeks. School is fun. Breakfast & lunch are included, no English allowed at meals. Classes are 0900 to about 4:30. The setting of the school is wonderful, gorgeous gardens. The town is on the edge if hills by the sea, so downhill to the water. I did learn a lot, but have not kept it up. It was a fantastic experience.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Kevin, I was assessed at B1 before I took the course, and after one week of immersion and exercises, I was reassessed at B2, just missing C1. That's very good Tom, well done. Having looked at their prices, I'd hope that the teaching was effective!

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

I have the same questions as Ken. Did you send him a PM? If not, please answer here as I think other people have the same questions. Thanks, this is something I REALLY want to do.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

After I posted on Tom's immersion, thread I found this report...oops. Loving the reports, but I'm not excited that some meals are included (French school), since I have Celiac and numerous food allergies :( Was looking for a school in Dijon. Anyone had success there?

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

That's good to know, Tom. Was it the same school mentioned here in France?

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

"Loving the reports, but I'm not excited that some meals are included (French school), since I have Celiac and numerous food allergies :(" For the course I attended, you can make specific dietary requests.