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Youth Language School blog

  • 23 Oct 2014 2:58 PM | Anonymous

    Bilingualism in our Youth Language School: a round-trip ticket

    You might think of our school as a train station busy with people who want to share ideas, an espresso at the bar, some new recipe (often moms), soccer formations (usually dads) and especially the endless "Ciao” . The train with all its components is the bilingual child who perceives, communicates and breathes two cultures--constantly traveling on two parallel tracks. On a practical level, the train is a means of locomotion widely used in Italy to travel between cities and is often used by young Italians to reach the school or the university. Like the train that transports travelers from a place to another, the bilingual child carries language and knowledge between two distant cultures, making them closer. The bilingual child take on specific roles by becoming the conductor--when translating between grandparents and family members who speak two different languages--and other times the passenger sharing new adventures, experiences and souvenirs with their fellow travelers.

    For the bilingual child, an independence of language is triggered that allows them to get by in both cultures without having to resort to the help of an adult to continually translate. This freedom and independence is one of the most important benefits, because with it comes the confidence of never feeling lost or off track.  Thus, languages become their own round-trip ticket.

    Il bilinguismo nella nostra scuola: un biglietto di andata e ritorno.

    Si potrebbe  pensare alla nostra scuola come una  stazione ferroviaria  trafficata da gente che ha voglia di scambiarsi  idee,  un caffe’ al bar, qualche nuova ricetta (spesso  le mamme), improbabili formazioni calcistiche (di solito I papa’) e soprattutto interminabili “ciao”.

    Il Treno, con tutte le sue componenti e’ Il bambino bilingue che  percepisce, comunica e respira costantemente due culture viaggiando su due binari paralleli.
    A livello pratico Il treno e’ un mezzo di locomozione molto usato in Italia per sportarsi  fra le varie citta’ e viene spesso utilizzato dai ragazzi italiani  per raggiungere la scuola o la sede universitaria.
    Come il Treno  che  trasporta i viaggiatori da una localita’ ad un'altra, il ragazzo bilingue trasporta i suoi linguaggi e i suoi saperi fra due culture lontane facendo si’ che si avvicinino. Accade cosi’ che  il bambino bilingue assuma di volta in volta un ruolo specifico, diventando macchinista quando si propone di tradurre fra i nonni e I familiari che parlano due lingue diverse e  diventando passeggero quando, con I suoi compagni di viaggio, condivide la sua avventura e scambia esperienze e souvenirs.

     Nel bambino bilingue s’innesta un’indipendenza di linguaggio che gli  permette di potersela cavare in entrambe le culture senza dovere ricorrere continuamente all’aiuto di un adulto che traduca per lui. Il ruolo piu’ importante e’ dato dalla sicurezza di non sentirsi mai perso o fuori binario diventando cosi’ il suo proprio biglietto di andata e ritorno.

                                                                                                     Luisa Narducci O'Gara

  • 21 Aug 2013 9:58 PM | Anonymous
    We are so excited to introduce our new teachers Francesca Bortoletti and Luisa Narducci O'Gara. Check out the instructor bio page to learn all about them. The other big change this year is our move from Saturday mornings to Sunday afternoons. The communal snack at 3:00 pm will allow families from both tracks to mix and mingle and get to know each other better.
  • 17 Aug 2011 11:13 PM | Anonymous
    Mirella Rossi-Heimpel joins the Youth Language School teaching team

    Mirella in her own words:
    "I have lived in St Paul MN, with my family, for the past 14 years. I grew up in Rome and hold a Laurea in Psychology from the University of Rome La Sapienza. I met my husband in Italy, while traveling, and moved to the US shortly after getting married. I became a Montessori teacher in the US and taught in Delaware and California. Those were my forming years in this country and I will always cherish them because they became the basis for who I am right now. Once my three children Nicholas (17 yrs.), Simon, (12 yrs.) and Carmen(10 yrs.) were born, I fully immersed myself in parenting. My heart has stayed into learning and teaching and either with my children or with the community (and with the help of the library), I have enjoyed experiencing world cultures besides my own. I volunteered in my children's classrooms for nine years through the Art Adventure program and became a girl scout leader in the past 3 years. I believe in the power of learning through a variety of means: folk and modern music, art, stories, cooking and games are my favorites! Italy is rich in tradition and history and is a modern country as well. I believe we can learn Italian while enjoying Italy in its variety."
  • 27 Jul 2011 11:00 AM | Anonymous
    Seven cousins whose greatgrandparents originated from San Costanzo, Marche Region, Italy, came to our summer camp to learn about the Italian government, regional and provinces division, physical geography, diet, crafts, games, and other popular cultural elements.
    Here they proudly display their posters about the Italian regions. I wish to thank Shirin for bringing new games and activities to teach and entertain the students.
  • 06 Mar 2011 12:33 PM | Anonymous

    Thank you to all who helped plan and to those who attended our recent events. It has been exciting to meet so many new families! Visit the ICC Flickr page to see more images from the 2011 Festa Carnevale.
  • 11 Jan 2011 12:29 PM | Anonymous
    Shanna and Bryce are students of Italian at the University of Minnesota and volunteer their time on Saturday mornings in the ICC's Youth language school. Shanna volunteers with Shirin's 6-9 year olds in both the beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced tracks. Bryce volunteers with Anna Maria's 3-6 year olds in both the beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced tracks.  Here is what they say about their interest in volunteering with the Youth language school:

    "I am interested in volunteering for the language school because knowing another language is very important to me. When I was in Europe, everyone knew at least two or three languages that they started learning from a very young age. I think the USA undervalues the importance of language skills. Not only does it open up communication with other people from around the world but it helps you learn about another culture. My major is Italian and I have studied other languages as well; they are very important to me. I am also considering getting involved in teaching and thought helping out would be a small amount of practice."

    Studio all'universita' di Minnesota e la mia specializzazione e' la chimica. Ho abitato a Firenze la primavera scorsa con una famiglia italiana. Mi interessano la cultura, la storia, e la lingua d'Italia. Mi piace insegnare agli studenti e vorrei diventare un'insegnante.
  • 09 Dec 2010 9:22 PM | Anonymous
    The fall trimester is officially over. Our six classes (31 students) have been busy preparing for the holiday party on December 11, where they will have an opportunity to show off their skills with poems and songs in Italian ... and wait for Babbo Natale's annual visit to the Hennepin Center for the Arts. It looks like it will be a true winter wonderland this year!

    We were very fortunate to have had the assistance of three University of Minnesota students of Italian this trimester. Bryce, Shanna and Katie generously devoted their fall Saturday mornings to the ICC Youth language school and were a wonderful asset to the program. The instructors and students were all very enthusiastic about this new initiative. Shanna and Bryce will be back for the winter trimester, but Katie is off to Bologna ... buon viaggo Katie!

    Winter trimester starts January 15 and registration is now open.  
  • 21 Aug 2010 10:52 AM | Anonymous
    The teaching team is set for the fall 2010 trimester of children's classes! Curriculum director Anna Maria Jaker will be teaching the 3-6 year olds in both the beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced tracks as well as the beginner/intermediate 14-18 year olds. Venetian native Shirin Ishu Bayati will be teaching both the beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced 6-9 year olds as well as the bilingual/advanced 14-18 year olds and Carmela Parisi will be teaching both the beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced 9-13 year olds. To learn more about this superstar teaching team visit the Youth language school's instructor page
  • 21 Jul 2010 9:30 PM | Anonymous
    I am pleased to announce that Anna Maria Jaker has agreed to assume the role of curriculum director, overseeing the educational experience of students as they move through each of the four levels of both the beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced tracks. During her almost two years with the school, Anna Maria has taught classes at various levels in both tracks. She brings to the role her experience as a parent, having raised two bilingual children, as well as a wealth of knowledge acquired in the course of formal training in early elementary education at the College of Saint Catherine in St. Paul.
  • 21 Jul 2010 8:43 AM | Anonymous
    The ICC management committee has approved the restructuring of the Youth language school to provide an enhanced educational experience for students. Beginning this fall trimester, the following changes will be implemented:

    1. Both beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced tracks will meet for 60 minutes followed by a snack/social time.

    2. Both beginner/intermediate and bilingual/advanced tracks will be adopting the following age divisions, on the advice of curriculum director Anna Maria Jaker:
    Level I: 3-6 years of age
    Level II: 6-9 years of age
    Level III: 9-13 years of age
    Level IV: 14-18 years of age

    Parents are encouraged to consider the ages merely as guidelines and to consult with the curriculum director about the best placement for their child/children, which should be based on social and academic readiness. For more detail on each of the classes and the broad mission of each of the tracks visit the Youth language school section of the ICC website.

    3.  Field trips will no longer replace lessons in the bilingual track. Field trips and other social events will be organically organized outside of class time by parent volunteers interested in fostering community. Students and parents will be informed of these events via e-mail.

    4. All classes will be taught by paid instructors, although parents interested in volunteering in the classroom are encouraged to participate and may do so in accordance with their time and interest in coordination with their child's instructor.

    We are excited about this new chapter in the program, as it grows from the wonderful initiative spear-headed by parent volunteers into a more traditional language school.
The Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization
 528 Hennepin Ave | Minneapolis, MN 55403 | (612) 295-4111 

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