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Checklist to choose a school

CHECKLIST: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT SCHOOL

Most of the school of Italian as second language you find in Italy have an excellent reputation and quality - moreover, consider that there is not such a thing as the "better" school, but it surely exists the better school for you: meaning that, every student has her/his own character, expectations, ideas, way of learning etc., therefore what works for me maybe does not work for you, and vice versa.

The same goes for the accommodation: someone finds a family just great, because the mother talks a lot with the students, the father insists to go all together to the seaside duringthe weekend, and the son absolutely wishes to help with the homeworks, another student find all this things a violation of her/his privacy..

So, it depends on you, but there are some point to define a good school everyone basicly agrees on, and they can help you benchmarking the different offers you get, and selecting the right school (for you).

CHECKLIST

1. DOES THE SCHOOL EXISTS ?

Nowadays it is possible to everyone to put together a very nice Internet site, with a perfect presentation of a fabulous school... that does not exists.
Always check the postal address, the phone number, the exact location, ask questions: the number of the classrooms, the equipment of the school, the year of foundation, even better, references from former students: to discover that your course takes place at the kitchen table of somebody's home can be a nice surprise, but it is maybe better to know it in advance...

2. IS THE SCHOOL RECOGNISED BY THE ITALIAN MINISTRY OF EDUCATION ?

Even if it is still not compulsory, private schools can request, and obtain, through a long and demanding process, the certification (Presa d'atto) by the Italian Ministry of Education.
The certification guarantees that the building, the classes and the offices comply with the European protocols of safety, accessibility and habitability on one side, on the other side states that the management and the instructors have the necessary curricula (teachers must have an University degree), are regularly employed, and that the programmes and syllaba are solid and consequent.
Of course, it is possible to learn a language just chatting with some mother-tongue student - but in this case why should you pay for a course - if an exchange in conversation is what you get ?

3. IS THE SCHOOL MEMBER OF ASILS ?

The Association of the Schools of Italian as Second Language is the official category association and sets the standard for its members, cares for the relationships between the schools and the authorities, inform and protects the students about their rights.
We hope not, but if something goes the wrong way, it is better to know you can apply to someone...

4. HOW LONG ARE THE HOURS ?

Usually one hour lasts 60 minutes, but in the world of the schools one "hour" is synonimous of one lesson, and can even last only 45 minutes !
Therefore check with the different schools about how long is their "hour" : 45 minutes ? 50 minutes ? 55 minutes ?

5. HOW MANY STUDENT PER CLASS ?

The few the students, the better - even if you have to work a lot more in a small group of just 5 persons !
But it is important to know also how many students are there totally in the school, otherwise, if there are not enough students to have different classes for different levels, you risk to be together with students with a dramatically different knowledge of Italian...on the other side, more than 12 students per class is considered too much.

6. IS THE COURSE GUARANTEED ?

Especially with small schools, or with special group courses like, say, Italian for florists, or for enthomologists, you could be the only students enroled for your class. Ask in advance which is the policy of the school in this case: do they have such a policy ? do they cancel the course and rembourse you ? Do they offer you private hours in exchange ? Do they run the course anyway ? In that case, the price remains the same ? etc.

7. IS IT POSSIBLE TO SIT FOR EXTERNAL EXAMS ?

Especially if you stay in Italy for 4 weeks or more, it is important that you end your course in Italy with some certificate, even better if you can sit for am exam. Most of the schools offer exams at the end of the course, but it is important that the exams are external, recognised by some "third" authority, better if it is an international authority. Beware of the diplomas "recognised by the State" or similar: at the moment such an exam does not exist - neither the Italian Government nor the Italian State, nor the Ministry of Education recognises any exam of Italian as second language.

 

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