Learning Italian for life in Italy

door Regina Coeli

Most Regina Coeli course members learn a foreign language for work. Not Peter and Nan. They are enthusiastic Italy-goers and spent a week in Vught learning Italian so they could enjoy their time in Italy even more.

‘It’s a kind of working holiday,’ Peter explains. ‘You can also spend the money on a plane trip to a faraway country and then lie around on a sun lounger there. But with this kind of language course, you learn something; you connect with other people and through something fun: the language. It’s really invigorating to use your brain in a different way for a change.’

A week of learning Italian

Peter used to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hence, the couple was familiar with ‘the week to the nuns’. ‘I always thought it would be fun to do something like that. A friend of mine went to Regina Coeli some time back because he wanted to give a speech in Italian at the wedding of his son and his Italian bride. He was hugely enthusiastic after his course.’

Like other trainees, Peter and Nan both had individual training, with four private lessons a day. ‘In between, we practised in the lab,’ Nan explains. ‘There were a total of four students and four trainers that week, so we had lessons from four different trainers every day. That was great fun. We had a very nice click with everyone, and you notice that the trainers align things extremely well.’

Lesson in Italian gestures

Besides the private lessons, there are language tables and group activities during the week. This naturally led to good contact between the Italian learners who were there that week. ‘The four of us had a lesson on Italian gestures because Italians say so much with their hands. That was wonderful! But we also had good rapport with people learning the other languages,’ says Peter.

Learning a language when you are older

Nan has taught English and Dutch, but Italian was tough for her. ‘I found it intense to start from scratch in a new language. What helped is that I have a background in languages. But I, too, noticed that you learn a language differently than when you’re young.’ Peter adds: ‘You have to repeat things more. That’s why the lab works so incredibly well.’

Soon after the training, Peter and Nan left for Italy and could start putting their new language skills into practice. ‘At a basic level, we can use the language quite well,’ says Peter. ‘We’ve been to Italy three times since the course in April. It’s easier to engage with the language at some times than others. But we remain enthusiastic. The Italian language is just fun.’

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