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mazakaal

Looking for an Italian curriculum...

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I'm slightly annoyed with ds who had said that he wanted to learn ASL for his foreign language requirement. I did all the research and found several good options for him for ASL and showed them to him today so he could give feedback on which appealed to him. He decided he didn't like any of them and wants to learn Italian, which we had tried a couple of years ago, but just with some low key books I found at a local shop - tourist Italian. Now I need to find a high school level course for Italian for ds. We live in the UK so there are no community colleges that offer it near here. I know some native Italian speakers, but they are definitely not the type to be able to teach the language. I've searched the boards and found some ideas in this thread from 2015. 

Right now I'm looking at 

Espresso

Prego

CyberItalian - the self-study course - the other options are too expensive

Oggi

My questions are 

Are any of these sufficient for two high school credits? I'm thinking ahead; I don't want to do one year with one thing and then be stuck for Italian II.

Are there any other options for Italian for high school? 

Thanks.

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My dd used Oggi.  It is sufficient for high school credit.  It is kind of boring though. 

I would use Prego if I had to do it again and just use the Koble Academy guides. 

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I'm not sure this will be much help but it is what we've done. Trinqueta is going to Rome for 3 weeks this summer and wanted to learn some Italian. She's taken 3 years of high school Latin and is fairly proficient in Spanish so we're not starting from scratch. I bought Italiano para hispanohablantes (this is totally worthless to you) and the Pimsleur Italian Gold Edition on ebay for $100. The Pimsleur is very good. It's on CDs so we do it in the car and it's a great way to get some oral practice with time constraints. I wouldn't pay full price but the $100 was money well spent. T is also doing about 15 or 20 minutes a day on Duolingo and is motivated to get her Golden Owl. The Pimsleur rounds out the Duolingo nicely with intensive oral practice imho. But, it's not a regular curriculum and might not line up with a standard school progression.

If she wants to continue next year and eventually attempt the AP Italian exam we'll probably enroll with Cyberitalian or use an Italki professional tutor. Both of her top college choices have Italian exchange programs so she's more motivated than I expected to continue with Italian.

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I think @LisaK in VA is in IT had a kid use a MOOC class that seemed pretty good when I looked at it for my kid. (My language lover doesn't do well with self-paced stuff, so she never used it.) I can't remember which system it used. EdX? maybe?

Edited by RootAnn
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My DD (12th) has been taking Italian (currently in Italian II) through Big River Academy  with Guiliana O'Connell.  She is a native speaker, who I believe also teaches at the university level in CT.  She is an extremely warm and caring instructor.  DD has been dealing with some health issues this year and Mrs. O'Connell has been very accommodating and supportive.  She teaches all the way up through Italian IV.  Big River Academy posts their statement of faith on their website (I believe the kids learn Bible verses in Italian), in case this might be an issue for you.  She uses the textbook Salve! in both Italian I and II.  The courses are $200 per semester, and the semesters are 15 weeks long with two breaks each semester.  DD has really enjoyed working with Mrs. O'Connell.

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I just watched the sample lesson with Mrs. O'Connell. She looks so sweet! From the website, it looks like they are in Tennessee. Are all the classes listed at Eastern Standard Time?

Ds doesn't want to take any online classes, but I may override him on foreign language. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if BRA will work for us as we'll be out of town for the first two weeks of classes.

Thanks for the suggestion, though. I'll look into it - if maybe he can start a couple of weeks late and cover basics on his own. Thanks!

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3 hours ago, mazakaal said:

I just watched the sample lesson with Mrs. O'Connell. She looks so sweet! From the website, it looks like they are in Tennessee. Are all the classes listed at Eastern Standard Time?

Ds doesn't want to take any online classes, but I may override him on foreign language. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if BRA will work for us as we'll be out of town for the first two weeks of classes.

Thanks for the suggestion, though. I'll look into it - if maybe he can start a couple of weeks late and cover basics on his own. Thanks!

We've traveled during T's school year. I got her a cheap Chromebook and she uses it to connect to classes from anywhere. All you need is a decent internet connection (Starbucks or McD's in the US are fine). You can also watch the video of the class at a later time if you have a conflict. It's not ideal but it means you don't completely miss the class if you have a conflict.

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4 hours ago, mazakaal said:

I just watched the sample lesson with Mrs. O'Connell. She looks so sweet! From the website, it looks like they are in Tennessee. Are all the classes listed at Eastern Standard Time?

Ds doesn't want to take any online classes, but I may override him on foreign language. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if BRA will work for us as we'll be out of town for the first two weeks of classes.

Thanks for the suggestion, though. I'll look into it - if maybe he can start a couple of weeks late and cover basics on his own. Thanks!

Yes, EST.  Mrs. O'Connell records all the classes and she is extremely flexible and accommodating.  If you have any concerns, drop her an email.  I think missing in the first few weeks would be ok, as long as the student can handle it.

DD has really enjoyed the online environment for learning languages (she's in French IV, Italian II and Spanish I this year).  I think it's essential for learning a new language to have as many opportunities to practice speaking it as possible.  DD has made a few friends in her classes, too, which is just an added bonus.  I highly recommend it!

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I did Italian evening classes for a couple of years in the U.K., at a further education college. In my city it was called Regional College. Maybe there is something like that where you are? Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the textbook, it’s been over 20 years.

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Maybe Duolingo and Practice Makes Perfect books for the basis.  This is what my Dd did for French.  I know Open University has Italian and do know of a homeschooler who did some with them.

My village has an Italian Club....something like that might work for practice.

Edited by mumto2

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Does anyone have any recommendations for a Level 2 or higher text book / curriculum (not an on-line class) for Italian? We have several of the Practice Makes Perfect books, but DS does not love them.  I would love to find something more along the lines of Breaking the Barrier, but for Italian. Does this exist?  DS has been studying Italian for several years using a combination of Rosetta Stone (with guidance), Coffee Break Italian podcast, the Practice Makes Perfect books, and some dual language readers for translating English into Italian and Italian into English.

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3 hours ago, Mabelen said:

I did Italian evening classes for a couple of years in the U.K., at a further education college. In my city it was called Regional College. Maybe there is something like that where you are? Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the textbook, it’s been over 20 years.

There’s a similar one here, but the Italian course they offer looks like it’s for tourists, not really something that will count for a high school credit.

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3 hours ago, mumto2 said:

Maybe Duolingo and Practice Makes Perfect books for the basis.  This is what my Dd did for French.  I know Open University has Italian and do know of a homeschooler who did some with them.

My village has an Italian Club....something like that might work for practice.

 

I used Practice Makes Perfect as a supplement for older ds when he did Breaking the Barrier Spanish. I don’t think it would be enough for younger ds on its own. I think he’s going to need something that’s more organised.

I hadn’t thought of OU, though. I’ve just been on their website, and they do have Italian, but I can’t figure out if they offer individual courses. It looks like you have to be registered for a diploma program. Do you know if the other homeschooler was just doing Italian on its own?

I expect that the uni offers Italian classes for people in the community. I had looked into it for dd for Russian III. But I think that it would be way too challenging for ds for Italian I.

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45 minutes ago, mazakaal said:

 

I used Practice Makes Perfect as a supplement for older ds when he did Breaking the Barrier Spanish. I don’t think it would be enough for younger ds on its own. I think he’s going to need something that’s more organised.

I hadn’t thought of OU, though. I’ve just been on their website, and they do have Italian, but I can’t figure out if they offer individual courses. It looks like you have to be registered for a diploma program. Do you know if the other homeschooler was just doing Italian on its own?

I expect that the uni offers Italian classes for people in the community. I had looked into it for dd for Russian III. But I think that it would be way too challenging for ds for Italian I.

I think she was doing two languages but at the start was not seeking a diploma.  She now is I believe.

 I just looked and found this.  http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/modules/l195. Pretty sure you pay by the module, and this appears to be one module.  I can talk to Dh because he has researched OU in great detail. 😂

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17 minutes ago, mumto2 said:

I think she was doing two languages but at the start was not seeking a diploma.  She now is I believe.

 I just looked and found this.  http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/modules/l195. Pretty sure you pay by the module, and this appears to be one module.  I can talk to Dh because he has researched OU in great detail. 😂

Thanks!

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1 hour ago, mazakaal said:

There’s a similar one here, but the Italian course they offer looks like it’s for tourists, not really something that will count for a high school credit.

In my college, the earlier courses were definitely geared towards tourists. I already had a basic knowledge so I started further along the sequence. You could also take the GCSE and A level exams corresponding to your course. 

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NB: I've put in a lot of preamble. If you just want where I see the courses you cite fitting in, please skip to the "Courses" bit.

I am from the UK, and one of my local colleges was offering Italian until the end of the 2017 academic year (when the entire foreign language department was closed), at each level up to university entrance. The reason for this was that the UK's main pre-GCSE preparation courses for adults (provided by NOCN) stopped being offered at that point. I cannot see any evidence that any course provider has stepped up to fill the gap, though if you live near a university or other place with a languages teaching facility, it may have a course. (One of my local universities has Italian courses from beginner through to graduate level that members of the public can access, but the price is steep).

GCSE Italian was not recommended for "the average learner" at the college I studied at unless Italian had already been studied for two years prior to the GCSE year, resulting in the formal qualification only being there after three years of foreign language study*. However, that's not a hard and fast rule, and this is a situation where "breaking" the rule if possible would be a good idea. A student who had done (for example) BBC Talk Italian 1 and 2 in one year, and had some practise at using Italian in at least one high-interest area outside what Talk Italian covers, would be ready to study the GCSE in their second year of study. (At least, that was what my local college used to tell me). The biggest problem will be convincing a college or other test centre (such as a local school specialising in languages) to allow the GCSE to be taken (try somewhere that does other foreign language GCSEs, but nothing can be guaranteed).

The reason I'm emphasising this is because if the plan is to use the learning in the UK, transcripts tend to be checked rather than course content. If the plan is to use it in the USA, it won't matter if your dc has a specific piece of paper at the end, provided they have the knowledge one would expect from doing Italian I and II.

Note that BBC Talk Italian 1 is flatly aimed at tourists, and 2 isn't much more expansive. It just so happens that pre-GCSE courses and assessments in Italian in the UK tend(ed) to assume a touristy text and adapt(ed) assessments accordingly. While it does have a grammar supplement as a separate book, I would recommend getting a separate book of common verbs and, at minimum, a pocket-size bilingual dictionary**. (I had a large-format bilingual dictionary as well; it would work well for advanced Italian studies and the "high-interest" part of my recommendation, but really not necessary . The Signorelli-Cambridge I have is, alas, no longer in print, because not only was it comprehensive, it has both British and American spellings).

I'd also consider some sort of additional audio source material, whether that's with audio CDs (Dorling Kindersley has an "Italian Advanced" course that, to my eye, would work well alongside a GCSE course, and most beginner/tourist-aimed ones would work well with the pre-GCSE level(s)). A regular podcast in Italian, some Italian-language videos on interesting topics or even an Italian radio station would all be good alternatives.

If you want the course to feel less touristy, consider getting a short book of parallel readers may also be good for broadening the course of study, especially after the first couple of months (there are lots of choices for this). Also,  bilinguala business dictionary (Berlitz has one), would also be helpful. There are also free online websites which explain things like how to write a formal business letter for an Italian audience, which have English-language instructions. If your dc doesn't have any inspiration for a subject area in which they might try applying Italian outside their course, making your dc learn some "business Italian" would be a practical idea.

Since mazakaal does not have access to a bricks-and-mortar course, a tutor of some sort would be an excellent idea - at the very least, to practise conversation, and also to help with expanding the content to high-interest discussion topics. Finding something high-interest in which the language can be used will be very important to making language study work smoothly. Ultimately, it is better if you can get your student using the language in a broader context than just what the textbook says to use it in, even if that slows down progress through the textbook, than it is to speed through the textbook and only be able to use Italian in test contexts.

Courses:  The GCSE is A2 level in the CEFR international system. I would expect an average student (who is being credited Italian I/II by Carnegie hours) to have just about completed A1 level and be ready to start GCSE. For the faster path (where the Italian I/II is being credited on mastered content), I would expect A2 to be completed and the GCSE (if that is in your plan, for the purposes of confirming the grade's soundness) to have been obtained. If the plan is to use Italian at university, I'd aim for the "faster" path, otherwise you will run out of time to be ready for AP Italian or AS/A-Level Italian. If not (for example, if you're doing it to increase the range of universities dc can access, or simply to encourage appreciation of another language), the "average" path is fine. It's difficult to tell how a student will get on with a language, or what their eventual aims will be, before they've even started it, therefore I advise regarding both goals.

Espresso - I think Espresso Raggazzi 1 and 2 would work for your Italian I and II plans. If your dc goes through the material at average pace, you could reasonably still call it Italian 2 if they've mastered book 1 and made some progress in book 2. (There's also a version aimed at adults, Nuovo Espresso, for which the same advice applies. Get whichever of the two is more interesting to your dc, or simply what's easiest to obtain).

Prego - Upside: this is definitely not a touristy text, but an academic one. As such, it's likely to provide a smoother transition to serious Italian courses than a UK college course would have done even if it had existed in mazakaal's area. This appears to be set up to go with a specific set of supplementary materials. It works considerably better in that context than outside it. It is emphatically not touristy, but it's hard for me to tell what level it goes to because I've never used it, there's only one of it (so if it doesn't go high enough for you or dc, you will have to switch supplier mid-stream) and you will have to be careful to budget for online access to materials as well as the textbook, in order to get the full experience. I would welcome further comment from people who have used Prego!

CyberItalian - I don't see enough detail about this course to make comparisons with the other materials.

Oggi In Italia - This not only has the combined version, but also a 3-volume split option, with each being the equivalent of a semester's study in college (thus college-standard Italian I/II/III). If you got 2/3 of the way through the combined book (or halfway, plus some GCSE-specific prep materials), nobody could reasonably dispute you granting Italian I and II - and you'd still have the other third of the book left for potential scope for Italian III. It is hard to say how much scope for slowing down through the text there would be given that some American colleges definitely use this text, but getting through less than 1/3 of it and trying to call it Italian II would be right out.

The other option I'd like to throw in at this point is Online Italian Club. All the exercises except speaking would be free. Aim to complete A1 and start A2 for an "average" student, complete A2 for a student aiming to have GCSE Italian by the end of the second year.

* - In the UK, the full progression for adults was NOCN 1 -> NOCN 2 -> GCSE -> AS Level or equivalent -> A-Level, and took 5 years to reach university entrance. Children generally didn't bother with the NOCN courses, instead doing a few years at a slower pace before attempting the GCSE.

** - The exact pocket-size bilingual dictionary is unimportant. I tried Oxford, Collins and Webster's and noticed little difference between them.

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Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to break all that down. That is very helpful - I really appreciate it. And I'll check out the Online Italian Club. Thanks again!

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@ieta_cassiopeia  Thank you for mentioning the Online Italian Club. I just checked my level there, and I was pleasantly surprised to be shy of the Advanced level by just one point. I had achieved a solid Advanced level back in the day, but after decades of not using Italian, I have lost quite a bit of ground. 

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I'm 9 weeks away from returning to Virginia -- and a more normal life (whatever that means).  Just saw this thread.  Edx.org has an entire series by Wellesly College, which goes through AP. I combined this course with a daily duolingo.  I printed the resources and worked through the videos, taking notes, practicing, etc.  It is a very thorough course -- you do need to do the practice, and having the ability to speak with others is extremely helpful.  Each course, plus the daily review -- is close to a semester worth of work and material at the college level.  I do not hesitate to recommend it.  

This teaches formal Italian -- which wasn't as helpful in Naples, as they have their own dialect here.  But, I do have passable Italian 😉  Due to my coaching obligations, I never made it past the 2nd course.  They have also updated it since I took the course.

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