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Report 293: Language School in Lucca

By Carol M from CA, Spring 2003

Trip Description: Two weeks in May - Attending the Centro Koine' in Lucca

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Tuscany

Categories: Family/Friends; Language Classes; Independent Travel; Single Traveler

Page 1 of 1: Immersion course in Italian

This report is a follow-up {see web link} to summarize my fourth course at Centro Koine' in Lucca.

I enrolled for a 2-week course again, classes only, no private lessons, in advance of a 2-week vacation with family in Tuscany in May 2003. Having applied myself fairly diligently for the previous months at home, I found the transition into full immersion this time much easier. Could it be I'm actually progressing? Even so, the first few days were a challenge, given jet lag and words that sounded, when they emerged, quite different from the way I thought they would.

Our class was great. Besides me, there were two Swiss men, a German doctor who owns a villa near Lucca, two attractive 20-year-old Danish girls, and another American woman spending a month with her young family in Lucca. We had a wonderful teacher for the first week, Cristina, who challenged us with Koine's imaginative variety of activities to stimulate conversation and the "acquisition" of Italian (see previous report for more details.) We talked and talked. We were all close to the same level in Italian, so we helped each other acquire vocabulary and learn about our respective experiences in exploring the area around Lucca. The second week was a bit less stimulating, because Cristina went on vacation, we had to adjust to a new teacher, and the group expanded to include 3 more students, also an adjustment, but all in all, a very good learning experience.

I stayed with the same family, a husband and wife who frequently host students from the school and are fantastic people! We took walks together around the walls of Lucca, went to a fabulous restaurant run by friends of theirs in the nearby countryside, went to a card-playing gathering and buffet at a local club with lots of their friends, and just talked and talked (okay, I was a better listener.) At this point, I have a few other friends in Lucca, and we also got together for outings at the beach near Viareggio, some dinners, etc. Laura is a wonderful cook and loves to share her recipes, and Nino is passionate about politics, which leads to some interesting cross-cultural discussions.

Of course it was old-home-week at the school! The faculty is stable and experienced, and almost all of the teachers have suffered through my attending their lessons, and all were welcoming. There were several afternoon activities available, including a very interesting walk through, around, and over the Lucca walls to explore the construction, the history, and the legends (many) which are part of the ambience. Another fascinating lecture concerned the varieties of Italian comedy in film, with selections from some of the greats on tape.

Aside from calls to/from home, and an occasional lapse into an English conversation ("I can't do it any more!"), I had two weeks of immersion rigorously in Italian. The telephone remains a challenge in Italian, as you can imagine, although fun. It is a humbling experience to lose all of the ways one normally has of expressing oneself in the mother-tongue and to try to adopt new ones. In learning these latter, you also learn about your own language, and both aspects continue to fascinate me.

What to do next? I'm not sure...I can't say that a fifth time at school would serve me particularly well, and since I'm not planning a move to Italy, I'll just have to try to hold on to what I've gained using the Internet and e-mail, and of course, plotting my next trip.

Resources

Koine Center (Language School)

Language School Notes

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