My name is Cristina T., and I am an Italian native speaker. Ever since I was a child, I always loved listening to foreign languages. As I got older, I realized my passion in life was to become a language teacher.
I studied French, English, German and Spanish and it excites me that I can speak with people in their native language because I can also better understand their culture and traditions. Thanks to my studies in translation and interpreting, I quickly found a position as a translator in 2004. My fields of expertise are legal, technical and medical translation.
I recently received my Masters in teaching Italian as a second language so I can have a better understanding of how to communicate and teach foreign languages to my students. During the one year master’s program, I was trained in teaching Italian to people from different countries, backgrounds and ages. I taught Italian in group sessions and/or one-on-one tutoring to adults at different language levels. I also helped university students get their Italian certifications (such as CELI from the Università per Stranieri di Perugia, CILS from Università per Stranieri di Siena and PLIDA from Societa’ Dante Alighieri). I also had the opportunity to do my internship at Casa Italia, the Italian Cultural Center in Stone Park, IL.
As a teaching assistant, I collaborated with other instructors and also worked independently organizing teaching activities, creating schedules, power points, lesson plans and several other Word formatted documents. I worked with children from ages four and five, assisting them with their listening and communication skills. The children were submersed in the Italian language using fun instructional activities such as games, sports, songs, cooking food, drama, movies and crafts.
After this wonderful teaching experience, I decided to do research on how children acquire their first and second language in early childhood and write my final thesis on the benefits of second language learning at an early age. I described the most effective strategies that a good teacher should use to help children acquire a second language naturally and spontaneously.
In December 2011, I received my Master’s degree in teaching from Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. Soon afterwards, I moved to the U.S.A. and at the present time I am tutoring kids and college students in the Chicago land area. I also collaborate and teach Italian in private schools.
In regards to my teaching methods, I usually refer to the media, publications, journals and books to help prepare my lesson plans and activities. I teach in a communicative way in order to help my students develop their comprehensive skills such as understanding, listening and reading, as well as their productive skills, such as writing, speaking and interacting in Italian. As a second language teacher my goal is to make sure my student can handle a conversation with a native speaker on different subjects in accurate Italian. I also focus on developing my student’s communication skills.
To get my students involved in my languages sessions, I first let them read an article from a newspaper and/or watch a movie trailer. Secondly, I have them do both oral and written exercises to learn how to use new language structures effectively. Using this method, it involves my students indirectly to learn grammar rules and help structure sentences. Researchers and language teaching experts agree nowadays that a second language is acquired the same way the mother tongue is acquired. Finally, studies have shown children ages two to twelve years old are capable of learning languages with greater ease and are better able to acquire the native accent.
In conclusion, I recommend parents to have their children learn languages when they are still young which is important especially if you want them to become bilingual, trilingual or even multilingual. Giving your child the opportunity to learn a new language not only gives them the chance to grow in a multi-cultural way but also will help them in the business world when they become adults.
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